Fire Restrictions in Effect for this Park
Activites and Facilities Available in this Park - Click icon to view
Activities Available at this Park
Facilities Available at this Park
Park Contact Snuneymuxw First Nation
E-mail: admin@newcastleisland.ca
Phone: 250 754-7893
Fax: 250 754-7894

Click here to view the park facility operator’s website (a non-government weblink) for additional information.

Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park

For your own safety and the preservation of the park, keep to designated trails and obey posted signs. Shorelines may become unsafe or cut off from the trail during high tides and storms.

Notice to Boaters
  • Mooring Buoy and Dock Facilities Use Fees apply throughout the winter. Maximum length of stay is 14 days per calendar year.
  • 43 new mooring buoys have been installed in Mark Bay. There are two types of mooring buoys as follows:
    • those for boats 30 feet length overall or less
    • those for boats 40 feet length overall or less
    These mooring buoys will maximize the use of Mark Bay for the recreational vessels and provide secure moorage while protecting the sensitive ecological values of the sea bed from dragging anchors. The use of anchors in Mark Bay is not permitted in order to allow for the recovery of sub tidal and inter-tidal marine life in the bay and to better prevent boats from washing ashore.
Note: Mooring Buoy Rings & Chains do not lift up.
  • The chains on Newcastle Island mooring buoys are now much larger than often found on past buoys. This increase in size better protects your boat in storms, but does not allow you to pull the chain up due to the its larger size and weight.
  • The most efficient method to use when tying to the mooring buoy is from the stern of your vessel. Slip
    your line through the eye on the mooring buoy, then walk the line to the bow of your vessel and
    secure it there.
In addition to the mooring buoys BC Parks also provides moorage at the Park dock.
For information on moorage in Nanaimo contact the Nanaimo Port Authority.

Notice regarding upgrades/repairs to the park:
  • The trail across the dam is closed.
Please note:
  • In order to prevent racoons from becoming a nuisance, please follow these important guidelines:
    • Ensure your boat is secure to prevent racoons from getting food from your vessel.
    • Do not feed raccoons.
    • Never take food inside tents.
    • Store all food, including toothpaste, in the food lockers.
    • Dispose of all garbage immediately.
    • Warning – Be aware that raccoons will become aggressive when approached or cornered.
  • Remember – Newcastle Island is home for many species of animals and the island provides plenty of natural vegetation for all its inhabitants.

About This Park

Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park For an experience rich in history, culture and entertainment, do what people have been doing since the 1930s—hop a boat to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, one of the most intriguing parks in BC. Bring your own boat or take the passenger ferry from Nanaimo—a 10-minute ride that deposits passengers on Newcastle Island, located just a few hundred metres offshore from Vancouver Island. From a distance you’ll see an island shoreline dominated by steep sandstone cliffs and ledges, interspersed with sunny beaches – a marked contrast to the interior of the island, which is studded with mature Douglas fir, Garry oak, arbutus and Big Leaf maple trees.

Visitors to Newcastle Island can choose from an extensive network of walking/hiking trails that lead to various historic points around the island. Indian middens offer mute evidence of at least two Salish First Nations villages, which were deserted before the discovery of coal in this area in 1849. Subsequent decades saw the island’s fortunes rise and fall as it went through various incarnations while supporting a fish-salting operation, a sandstone quarry and a shipyard.

In 1931 the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company purchased the island and operated it as a pleasure resort, building a dance pavilion - now the visitor center – a teahouse, picnic areas, change houses, a soccer field and a wading pool. An old ship was tied to the dock at Mark Bay and served as a floating hotel. The island became very popular for company picnics and Sunday outings, with ships from Vancouver bringing as many as 1,500 people at a time. The advent of the Second World War, however, caused a decrease in the number of ships available for pleasure excursions and Newcastle Island suffered a consequent decline in popularity.

Today, park services and facilities include walk-in campsites complete with flush toilets and showers, as well as facilities for group camping and picnicking. The Pavilion can also be rented for dances, corporate picnics and wedding receptions.

Park Size: 336 hectares

Special Notes:
  • A park interpreter is in attendance during the summer to provide visitor information and to interpret the island’s unique human and natural history. Check at the Pavilion or on information boards at the dock heads for the times of walks, talks and other program details.
  • The Pavilion may be booked for use by groups and organizations. For more information on how to reserve school groups, click here.
  • Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park benefits from excellent adjoining commercial facilities. Shopping, recreation and entertainment are available in the nearby city of Nanaimo. During July the annual Nanaimo- Bathtub Race departs from the Inner Harbour. Petroglyph Provincial Park, just south of the city, has some excellent native rock carvings. There are a variety of marinas offering boats and fishing gear to take advantage of the plentiful salmon in the surrounding waters. At Departure Bay is the Pacific Biological Research Station, which has public displays.
Dock Facilities Use Fee: $2.00 per metre / night
Mooring (to buoy) Fee: $12.00 per vessel / night
Campground Dates of Operation
All dates are subject to change without notice
Opening and Closing Campground Dates:
(campground is accessible but may not offer full services such as water, security, etc.)
Year round
Campground Dates with Full Services and Fees: April 1 – October 15
Off-season: limited services and winter fees
Campground Reservable Dates: May 1 – October 8
Total Number of Campsites: 18
Number of Reservable Campsites:
(all remaining sites are first-come, first-served)
10
Note: The above information is for the campground only. Park users can still walk into the park if conditions such as weather permit. Check the "Attention Visitor Notice" above for park alerts.

Reservations

All campsite and group site reservations must be made through Discover Camping. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.

Reserve a site

Campsite Reservations:
Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.

Group Camp Reservations:
Group campsite reservations are accepted at this park through Discover Camping for dates starting May 1 to October 12.
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Location and Maps

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation. Newcastle Island is accessible by boat only. Once you’ve reached Nanaimo (mainland visitors can ferry over via Horseshoe Bay), take the foot passenger ferry for the 10 minute ride from Maffeo-Sutton Park, just north of downtown Nanaimo on Hwy 1. The ferry schedule is available through the park facility operator’s website (a non-government weblink).

Private boat owners can simply tie up to the wharf or anchor at Mark Bay. Berthing facilities for more than 50 boats are available at the island. Boaters can reference marine chart #3447 (Nanaimo Harbour) for more information on this area.
Dock Facilities Use Fee: $2.00 per metre / night

Maps and Brochures

Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
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Nature and Culture

  • History: A brief walk around Newcastle brings you to the site of Saysetsen Village, where recovered native artifacts bear silent witness to the life of a Salish Indian village that was deserted some time before coal was discovered in 1849. For centuries the Salish had occupied this village between the months of September and April, leaving every spring in order to fish for cod and gather clams and tubers on Gabriola Island. Although the Salish were among the island’s first coal miners, they were soon “supplemented” by boatloads of British; these men christened the island after a famous coal town in northern England and diligently worked the mines until 1883. Newcastle Island’s supplies of sandstone lasted longer than did the coal: this attractive building material, used in many constructions along the west coast, was quarried from 1869 until 1932.

    Newcastle Island also played a role in the fishing industry of the province. By 1910 the Japanese, who dominated fisheries, had established a small settlement just north of Shaft Point on the west side of the island. Here they operated a saltery and shipyard until 1941 when all the Japanese-Canadians who lived along the coast were sent to internment camps in the Interior in the interests of national security during wartime.
    In 1931 the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company purchased the island and operated it as a pleasure resort, building a dance pavilion (now the visitor centre), teahouse, picnic areas, change-houses, soccer field and a wading pool. An old ship named Charmer (later replaced by the Princess Victoria) was tied to the dock at Mark Bay (Echo Bay) and served as a floating hotel. The island became very popular for company picnics and Sunday outings, with ships from Vancouver bringing as many as 1,500 people at a time. The advent of the Second World War caused a decrease in the number of ships available for pleasure excursions and Newcastle Island suffered a consequent decline in popularity.
  • Cultural Heritage: Newcastle Island provided a home to the Coast Salish native peoples prior to the discovery of coal in 1849.
  • Conservation: The Park offers an island shoreline dominated by steep sandstone cliffs and ledges punctuated by beaches and provide a marked contrast to the interior of the island studded with Douglas fir, arbutus, Garry oak and Big Leaf maple trees.
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Management Planning

Management Planning Information
  • The approved Master Plan is available online in pdf format. [PDF 1.51MB]
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Activities Available at this Park

Cycling

Cycling

Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Fishing

Fishing

Children will enjoy fishing from the wharf. Salmon fishing in nearby waters can be rewarding. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Hiking

Hiking

A well developed 22 km trail system on Newcastle Island provides access to all locations on the island. These easy hiking trails lead from the dock and day-use area and link with other trails at various locations in the park. Directional signs are located along the trails. Click here for detailed trail information.

For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Interpretive Programs

Interpretive Programs

A park interpreter is in attendance during the summer to provide visitor information and to interpret the Newcastle Island’s unique human and natural history. Check at the Pavilion or on information boards at the dock heads for the times of walks, talks and other program details. Interpretive signage is also located at various points of interest along the trails.
Pets on Leash

Pets on Leash

Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Swimming

Swimming

There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks. Pleasant swimming is offered at Kanaka Bay and off of the dock area.
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Facilities Available at this Park

Campfires

Campfires

While fires are allowed at the campsites, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Campfire rings are provided at each individual and group campsite. Firewood can be purchased from the Park Facility Operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Drinking Water

Drinking Water

Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
Group Camping

Group Camping

There are 5 group campsites at this park, with picnic shelter, tables, fire rings, barbecues, fresh water, and pit and flush toilets. The group campsites are located within a 5-minute walk from the dock and are open all year, when accessible. Food lockers are supplied to protect food from raccoons. Click here for reservation information.
Sites 1,2,& 3

Youth group camping charges per night are $1/person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum.

Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $70.00/group site/night, plus $4/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15).

Sites 4 & 5

Youth group camping charges per night are $1/person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum.

Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $20.00/group site/night, plus $4/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15).

Picnic Areas

Picnic Areas

This park has a large day-use/picnic area with a playground, picnic tables, information shelter, swimming beach, toilets, horseshoe pits and a large grassy area. This popular day-use/picnic area is located at the entrance area to the park.

There is a public wharf that can accommodate over 50 boats.
Mooring (to buoy) Fee: $12.00 per vessel / night
Dock Facilities Use Fee: $2.00 per metre / night
Pit or Flush Toilets

Pit or Flush Toilets

Pit toilets are located throughout the park and in the campground. A flush toilet building is located near the entrance to the park, approximately 50 metres from the dock.
Playground

Playground

There is an adventure playground at this park.
Showers

Showers

There are coin operated hot showers in the toilet building, approximately 50 metres from the dock.
Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

Walk-in camping is allowed at 18 designated sites in the park. These sites are located in the forest, approximately a 5-minute walk from the dock. These sites are located in the forest, approximately a 5-minute walk from the dock and shower building. Food lockers are supplied to protect food from raccoons. Click here for reservation information.
Walk/Cycle-in Frontcountry Camping Fee: $16.00 per party / night
BC Senior’s Rate (day after Labour Day to June 14 only): $8.00 per senior party/night. Read the User Fees Policy for information on Senior Camping Discounts.
Wheelchair Access

Wheelchair Access

The Pavilion, the toilet building and some trails are wheelchair accessible.
Winter Camping

Winter Camping

Walk/Cycle-in Frontcountry Camping Fee: $11.00 per party / night
BC Senior’s Rate (day after Labour Day to June 14 only): $8.00 per senior party/night. Read the User Fees Policy for information on Senior Camping Discounts.