Mayne Island Weekend Getaway Guide

B.C.'s own Mayne Island is an underrated retreat rich with history, recreation and relaxation

Discover Mayne Island, a West Coast wonder

The small, quiet and relatively unassuming southern Gulf Island of Mayne offers a unique West Coast experience, rich with history, recreation and relaxation.

As the halfway point between Vancouver and Victoria, Mayne was once a bustling stopover hub for miners in search of their fortunes during the Cariboo and Fraser River Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Today, you’ll find a laidback island, just 21-square kilometres in size, with an eclectic mix of 1,000 residents made up of retirees, hobby farmers and others seeking a more off-the-grid lifestyle.

Its proximity to Vancouver and Victoria (only a one-hour trip on BC Ferries from each) make Mayne Island an extremely accessible weekend getaway; however, the year-round temperate climate, variety of activities and peaceful atmosphere encourage a longer stay.

Explore: By Land & Sea

Winery & Whales

Discovery Seatours offers a variety of tours from Mayne Island, including whale watching in the months of July and August. The three- to four-hour tour explores the rocky coastlines of Pender, Saturna and Mayne Islands in search of the resident Orca pods that summer there.

A visit to the Saturna Island Family Estate Winery will be added to the tour itinerary when time permits. With a climate remarkably similar to that of the Northern Mediterranean, the vineyards on Saturna produce grapes for Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.

Kayak or SUP with Bennett Bay Kayak

Long-time Mayne Island residents Doug and Leslie Peers chose Bennett Bay as the location for their kayaking operation because of its proximity to the protected Gulf Islands National Park. The islands, islets and reefs that make up the 26-square kilometre marine park provide an exceptional setting for paddling.

Bennett Bay Kayak runs April through October and offers two guided tours as well as private rentals. In addition to exploring secluded bays and scenic shorelines, kayakers will enjoy some of the best wildlife viewing in area. Sea lions, otters, bald eagles, sea birds and, for the very fortunate, orcas have been sighted on the tour.

Japanese Memorial Garden

The Japanese Garden at Dinner Bay Park was created to honour the 50 Japanese residents who were forced to leave during World War II.  Operated and maintained solely by local volunteers, the garden is a beautiful sanctuary for island residents and visitors.  Lush plants and trees, a pond with moss-covered bridges, a waterfall and a secret garden are a few of the highlights. At Christmas time the garden is even more spectacular when thousands of fairy lights twinkle in the night sky.

Eat: Fresh Local Fare

Farmers Market

Mayne Island is sprinkled with rolling pastoral farmlands that harvest everything from certified organic tomatoes to peaches, savoy cabbage and root vegetables. The Saturday morning farmers market at the community Agricultural Hall in Miner’s Bay is the best way to meet local growers and purchase island honey, farm fresh produce and eggs, artisan jellies, chutneys, pesto, home-baked goods and organic meats and cheeses.

Farm Gate Store

The quaint family-owned Farm Gate Store is another option for sourcing local products on Mayne Island. Organic grass fed beef, lamb and chicken from Deacon Vale Farm, island grown produce, locally caught seafood as well as homemade soups, casseroles, bread, muffins and pies are a few of the local goodies available at Farm Gate.

Bennett Bay Bistro

Bennett Bay Bistro serves delicious home-style cooking in a friendly atmosphere with panoramic water views. The picturesque restaurant (which is only open for lunch and dinner) has a fabulous $12 burger and beer special that features a thick, juicy handmade burger on brioche bun with a heap of hot hand-cut fries. The dinner menu includes hearty dishes, such as a rich, decadent carbonara seafood pasta as well as lighter fare, like the coconut crusted tilapia. All meals include a salad bar starter with organic mixed greens, and a variety of toppings.

Stay: In a Beachfront Cottage

Mayne Island Resort is a tranquil hideaway on the shores of picturesque Bennett Bay.  Fronting the island’s best beach, the resort offers 18 luxuriously finished one-bedroom cottages, each with fully equipped kitchen, cosy fireplace, gas BBQ and oceanview patio.

The property is also home to the century old Mayne Inn, which has now been converted from historic boarding house to intimate guesthouse, complete with six oceanview hotel rooms, indoor pool, full-service spa, boutique wine shop and Bennett Bay Bistro restaurant.

Built to take full advantage of the bay’s southeast exposure, Mayne Island Resort boasts spectacular views of the Marine National Park Reserve, Belle Chain Islets, American San Juan Archipelago and, on clear days, Mount Baker on the horizon. Short-term and long-term cottage rentals are available throughout the year.

For more information visit Mayne Island Chamber of Commerce.