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Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park (Saysutshun)
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Due to damage from high winds, the park has been closed for public safety
The park will reopen once the winds have subsided and appropriate assessments have been conducted to ensure it is safe to open to the public. Please check this page for updates.
July 23, 2018: Prevent raccoons from becoming food conditioned
Attention: Newcastle Island Marine Park (Saysutshun) has an abundant raccoon population that thrives on park visitor’s food, garbage and other scented items.
Please follow these important guidelines to prevent raccoons from becoming food conditioned:
- Do not feed raccoons. They may become aggressive and potentially dangerous once they are used to getting food from people.
- Never leave food unattended. Properly secure food and scented items (sunscreen, toothpaste, etc.) when you are away from your campsite and at night.
- Store food and scented items inside boats or secured food containers provided (bungee cords around coolers and rubbermaid bins do not work!).
- Never leave food inside your tent.
- Dispose of garbage immediately in the garbage bins provided. Never leave scraps or waste unattended.
- Ensure your vessel is secure to prevent raccoons from accessing food from inside vessel hatches.
Park Operators and Park Rangers patrol the area to facilitate public education and monitoring. Penalties may be issued under the Park Act for non-compliance.
Thanks for your cooperation.
Ferry service schedule to Newcastle Island Marine Park
- See the Park Operator website for fees and other ferry service information.
About This Park
For an experience rich in history, culture and entertainment, do what people have been doing since the 1930s—hop on a boat to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, one of the most intriguing parks in B.C. 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.
Established Date: October 17, 1961
Park Size: 363 hectares (334 hectares of upland and 29 hectares of foreshore)
- A park interpreter is in attendance during the summer to provide visitor information and to interpret the island’s unique human and natural history. Contact the Park Operator for information about dates, time of walks, talks and other program details.
- The Pavilion may be booked for use by groups and organizations.
- 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.
Know Before You Go
- Please remember that you are in cougar country, and cougars are known to visit the island from time to time (especially in spring and summer). Park visitors are strongly advised to exercise caution if visiting the 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
- Pull-out of kayaks and vessels for overnight stay is permitted only on the south end of the park, near the ferry dock on the developed beach.
- Mooring buoy and dock facility use fees apply throughout the winter. The 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
Mooring (to buoy) Fee: $14.00 per vessel / nightDock Facilities Use Fee: $2.00 per metre / night
- 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.
Notice regarding upgrades/repairs to the park:
- The trail across the dam is closed.
- 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.
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.
Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
Group Camp Reservations
Location and MapsPlease 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 operator’s website.
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.
Maps and BrochuresAny maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Nature and Culture
History: A brief walk around Newcastle brings you to the site of Saysutshun Village, where recovered native artifacts bear silent witness to the life of a Salish 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.
Activities Available at this Park
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.
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.
Pets on Leash
Facilities Available at this Park
Sites 1,2,& 3
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $80.00/group site/night, plus $5/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15). Children under 6 are free!
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $50.00/group site/night, plus $5/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15). Children under 6 are free!
There is a public wharf that can accommodate over 50 boats.