Out and About Pender Island

This small southern Gulf Islands, Pender Island has a unique lifestyle that continues to attract visitors and residents alike. The climate of Pender and its other island neighbours is amazing all year long so you’ll want to make sure your visit to the picturesque Pender Island includes some recreational activities like hiking, sailing, and biking.


FACTS FOR THE VISITOR

Every Island has a story ...

The Penders, as the locals refer to them, are now two islands joined by a one-lane bridge, which was built in 1955. Originally, Pender was one island joined by an isthmus, which was dredged in 1902 in order for the steamship, The Iroquois, to travel from the Hope Bay dock on North Pender to Sidney. This was considered to be a much shorter, and safer, route to take around South Pender. Pender Island was named after the captain of The Plumper, Daniel Pender. Ancient settlements on the Penders were inhabited by the Coast Salish. These settlements are evidenced through the shell middens at Beaumont Park and on the north end of the bridge.
One of the largest archaeological excavations on the Gulf Islands occurred on Pender Island, and now a cairn marks this spot. Other settlers would arrive from Spain and the British Isles, making their homes throughout the rough and hilly landscape of the Penders. They would have to get their supplies from Mayne and Salt Spring Island, as Pender would remain fairly rural and devoid of much industry, apart from some fruit trees and cattle, for many years to come. 

Who lives on Pender?

A long-standing rivalry between Hope Bay and Port Washington has now dissipated. Both sites fought to be the location for the ferry and post office. and disdainfully spoke of one another in threatening they naughty children by saying, “If you don’t behave, I’ll send you over to Hope Bay/Port Washington.” Luckily, both sites are still steeped in a history that the island residents are happy to share with visitors. There are now about 2,000 residents on this 24 square kilometres island.

Where is it and how do I get there?

There is easy access by BC Ferries from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island or from Tsawwassen terminal located on the Canadian mainland to many of the Gulf Islands, including the Penders. Find out more about BC Ferries service to the Gulf Islands, including fares, reservations on the Tsawwassen-Gulf Island route, and schedules, on their web site at www.bcferries.com or call 1-888-BCFERRY (BC) or (250) 386-3431 (Victoria).
Another excellent scenic way to make your Gulf Island escape is by floatplane. Private air service companies offer safe, efficient flights to the Gulf Islands from a variety of departure points, including Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Seattle. Daily scheduled service and chartered flights are available.

When should I go?

The temperate climate (the mildest in all of Canada) makes the Gulf Islands the perfect destination almost any time of the year. Here, it is drier than Vancouver and the islands are more protected than Victoria. Enjoy spring as early as February; warm, sunny, and dry summers; the vibrancy of fall; and, frost-free winters perfect for hiking, cycling, or kayaking. You really can’t go wrong no matter when you plan to visit! A tip for packing: bring layers. You may need clothing for all types of weather during your visit – warmth, wind, and water! Nights are always a little chilly – especially if you are walking by the water – so bring a light jacket even in the summer. 

What should I do when I get there?

Whether you choose to visit the country stores, government docks, beaches, parks, or historical sites, Pender Island has an abundance of options to fill your itinerary. Some of the unique features of the Penders are described below.

What are some of the Island’s unique features?

If you sail, or want to learn, the Gulf Islands are a popular destination not to be overlooked! Live-aboard certification courses led by qualified instructors can be arranged. If you are already a qualified boater, you can rent a motor or sailboat and head out on your own … for a day, a week, or even longer! Sailing and boating tours are also available from Pender or any of the other Gulf Islands. Several companies offer wonderful tours of the islands and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty! Don’t forget to book a water taxi for an interesting way to travel between the islands!If you are visiting the Penders by boat from the U.S., there is a Canadian Customs office located on South Pender Island and it is open in the summer months.

Explore the Parks & Beaches by bike!

The Pender Islands are great for cycling; bring along your swim wear so you can check out some of the islands' wonderful beaches along the way. Bicycles can be rented on all the Gulf Islands, and tours can be arranged.

Visit Old Industry ...

From brick makers to a herring saltery to a cedar shake roofing company, Pender Island has long been known for its many industries. Many of the older enterprises are still standing, ready for you to visit as you wander around the island.

 

Where should I stay? 

No matter what your budget will allow there are a number of  accommodation options available to you! Gulf Island Accommodations

 

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