Situated on the stunning Sunshine Coast, Saltery Bay offers idyllic camping and access to one of the finest bits of shoreline in British Columbia. Rocky tide-pools - miniature worlds populated by strange and fascinating creatures - await discovery. The cool, sparkling waters at Mermaid Cove invite swimmers to escape summertime heat. The lush forests which surround the campground offer both quietude and scenic beauty.
Saltery Bay and its surrounds are also a renowned diving destination; scuba divers can explore caves and shipwrecks or seek out some of the bay's diverse marine life. The area also attracts anglers, who can cast for salmon, cod, and flounder in the rich, clean waters. Crabbing and prawning are popular along the coast as well.
For those looking to travel on the water, rather than under it, canoeing and kayaking are both great options. With many miles of rugged coastline and vast stretches of deep blue ocean, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
Saltery Bay's campground offers 42 sites, all of which are suitable for RVs and trailers. The park is open year-round, though the campground (and park services) are open only from mid-May through mid-September.
Saltery Bay Provincial Park is located right off of the Sunshine Coast highway, just a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers) west of the Saltery Bay ferry terminal. Those traveling to the park from Vancouver or thereabouts will need to take two ferries - one from Horseshoe Bay to Hopkin's landing and one from Earl's Cove to Saltery Bay. The drive, taking about four hours (assuming you time the ferries just right) is a terrifically scenic one, offering fantastic views of the Sunshine Coast and the Straight of Georgia for most of the way. The highway is well-maintained, relatively flat, and has few sharp turns, so even travelers with large rigs should have no problems.
Spots at the Saltery Bay Campground are arranged in two interconnected loops. All sites are back-in, but there's plenty of space between sites, and there are no sharp turns to navigate within the campground, so parking should be a cinch. Once you are parked, you'll be within easy walking distance of Mermaid Cove, the day use area, and the trailhead for the park's short hiking trail. There's additional parking available at Mermaid Cove, too.
Just a few hundred feet from the coast, Saltery Bay's lovely campsite offers well-shaded sites set in a thick forest of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and western red cedar. In total, the campground sports 42 sites, all of which can accommodate RVs or trailers (all site are back-in, and most sites can fit rigs up to 32 feet - just one site can fit rigs over 32 feet). The grounds are primitive, offering no water, electric or sewage hookups. There is a sani-dump within the park that can be used for a small fee, and there are several pit toilets and potable water spigots spread throughout the campground as well. Each site has a fire ring, and firewood is available for sale from the camp host.
The day use and picnic areas at Mermaid Cove are just a short walk away, and a mellow, one kilometer (0.6-mile) hiking trail meanders through the forest that surrounds the campground.
Saltery Bay's campground is open from mid-May through mid-September. Reservations are taken, through the BC park's reservation system, for 21 of the 42 sites.
Kayakers and canoeists can take in some of the finest shoreline British Columbia has to offer at Saltery Bay. Paddle out into the open water or explore the verdant, tree-lined coast. The rocky shores of remote and beautiful Hardy Island sit just a mile (1.6 kilometers) to the south, inviting intrepid paddlers. If you're lucky, and if you visit at the right time of year, you may even find yourself paddling alongside a pod of dolphins or whales!
Mermaid Cove presents an idyllic location for a summer swim. Sparkling blue waters invite visitors to take a respite from the heat. From the water, you can look back on the tree-lined shore or simply enjoy a float and watch the summer clouds pass by overhead.
There are a few sandy spots along the beach (at high-tide anyway), but the majority of swimming spots are rocky. Visitors are advised to be aware of the fact that tides and currents can change quickly here - there are no lifeguards, so make sure everyone in the water is a solid swimmer, and make sure kids are supervised.
Saltery's crystal-clear waters, bustling with marine life, are a popular destination among divers. Get an up-close look at the stunning, colorful array of creatures which populate the waters off the Sunshine Coast; or, just take in the vast expanse of cerulean blue. There are several caves and shipwrecks to explore, if you're more experienced.
Divers at Saltery can also visit a unique attraction: a nine-foot (274 meter) mermaid named "Emerald Princess". This statue was placed in an easily accessible underwater spot by a local group of scuba-enthusiasts.
The rocky, pitted shores at Saltery Bay are home to a suite of tidal fauna. These specialist organisms thrive in a harsh and ever-changing environment, living on the edge of land and sea. Commonly seen creatures include ochre sea stars, harbor sea urchins, tidepool sculpins, and a plethora of crabs, snails, mussels, chitons, and limpets. You may even be lucky enough to come across a rare or more elusive creature, such as an octopus. Every day can bring something different.
The entire Sunshine Coast (on which Saltery Bay occupies a particularly scenic spot) is renowned for its fishing opportunities. Chinooks and Coho can be found in large numbers, while Ling cod, rock cod, Tommy cod, and flounder can be snapped up by bottom-fishers. Crabbing for Dungeness and red rock crabs is also popular along much of the coast.
As is always the case in British Columbia, make sure you have a valid fishing license, and be aware of any seasonally-specific regulations.
Saltery Bay presents fabulous opportunities for photographers of all types. The waters off the beach at Saltery begin glassy and clear at the beach and slowly deepen and darken into a marvelous shade of blue. Play with lighting and color as the day progresses - every moment presents a new, unique shot. Marine wildlife is abundant, and the tide pools at Mermaid Cove are filled with spectacular creatures waiting to have their likenesses captured by skilled macro-photographers.