Heischolt Lakes on Texada Island is a flooded former limestone quarry that boasts incredible azure-blue freshwater
When friends and family come to visit me on Texada Island, I bring out my list of five must-see places I always take visitors
Texada is the largest of the Gulf Islands, and there's a lot to see and do. So my list includes some of the island's best sights, along with lots of opportunities to relax and enjoy the place I call home.
When my aunt visited from Alberta, one of the first things we did was to cross off the number-one thing on my Texada to-do list: visit spectacular Heischolt Lakes.
Heischolt is a flooded former limestone quarry that boasts incredible azure-blue freshwater several degrees warmer than the ocean.
It’s a few minutes' drive from the ferry dock at Blubber Bay, and has become an immensely popular tourist stop. You cannot camp there and need to be very careful around the loose rock cliff edges, but it’s a fabulous day stop for swimming and kayaking.
Left: Gillies Bay Beach, Right top: Gillies Bay from the air, Right bottom: Shingle Beach
(Images: Jenessa Blanchet)
Gillies Bay Beach
We spent day two walking Gillies Bay beach at low tide, and while we caught up on each other’s lives, we squirted water at gooey ducks with our toes, collected seashells, and waded through the warm tide pools that freckle the sand.
Time slips away when you wander this beach, and before we knew it, the tide was on the move and we found ourselves sitting on the edge of the shore, drinking a cold beer, watching the water change colour as the tide rolled in.
Some girlfriends and I had planned a campout at Shingle Beach, a free campground 15 minutes’ drive beyond Mowat Bay that offers more privacy than the densely populated regional campground at Shelter Point.
Shingle Beach is the site of the annual Diversity Music Festival, which attracts 1,200 people (practically doubling the population of Texada in one weekend), as well as many outdoor weddings throughout the year.
I hauled my aunt along to girls’ night on the beach and the evening did not disappoint. We enjoyed great laughs around the fire, watched cruise ships pass, and one friend enjoyed a refreshing dip in the evening sea while the bioluminescence (think stars in the water) was at its height.
Left: Stromberg Falls, Right: Turtle Lake Trail (Images: Jenessa Blanchet)
In the morning we thought we’d fit in a short hike to Stromberg Falls, not far from Shingle Beach. Stromberg Falls is a woodland fairytale-like vision that many residents don’t even know about.
Although it varies greatly with the weather and season, the trek will reward you with cool, misty air and, if you’re lucky, rushing waters.
Farmers’ Market and Shelter Point
On the last day of my aunt’s visit to the island, there was still so much left to see and do. I wanted her to see the white sand sloughs of Sand Banks Beach, or walk historic Turtle Lake trail (once home to the summer cabins of the Texada elite during the island’s gold rush heyday).
In the end, however, we spent Sunday touring the Blubber Bay art gallery and the always fabulous Farmers’ Market in Gillies Bay. We sampled baked goods, stocked up on Swiss chard and pickled beets, and even found a tutu dress for my daughter. We finished the day sitting at Shelter Point Beach watching another glorious west coast sunset.
Shelter Point (Image: Jenessa Blanchet)
It really hit me that weekend how much there is to enjoy here. When the weekend rolls around, we focus on getting out sailing, hiking or just sitting on the beach for as long as possible, because life’s too short not to reach out and enjoy what’s right at your feet, especially if it’s a beach!