Saturna

Picture of park_sign Saturna Island is one of several islands that make up the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada. These are directly adjacent to the San Juan Islands of Washington State and are mostly accessible by ferry from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. We chose Saturna as our destination island largely because of the wildlife sighting opportunities. The ferry from Swartz Bay (if direct) takes about an hour and leaves you in the unassuming village of Lyall Harbour.
Picture of fawn About half the island is part of the National Park. The rest is sparsely inhabited by humans but excessively inhabited by deer. As they have no predators on the islands (except for some limited hunting permits) they have basically taken over the place.
Picture of mount_warburton_pike Mount Warburton Pike is the highest peak on Saturna and it has considerable prominence. A road leads all the way to the top although there are trails along the ridge with continuous spectacular views. We saw several bald eagles soaring here at or below our altitude. It is supposedly common to see whales from here as well. The nearest island in the distance is Pender which is also part of the Canadian park. Off to the left is Stuart Island in the United States.
Picture of east_point The furthest place on the island from Lyall Harbour is East Point which is also the best wildlife watching spot. It's easily accessible by car. It would be a considerable ride by bicycle. In general, Saturna is not walking-friendly although there is some sort of ride-share setup on the island (if you come across enough traffic to make it work). We spent the majority of our time on the island at East Point.
Picture of eagle_seals Here we have a bald eagle lording over an island full of harbor seals. The rocky islets just off East Point sit at a meeting point of several strong currents between Puget Sound, the Salish Sea and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Tides play a role as well. This is a common spot to see pods of orcas although we did not see any during our stay.
Picture of purple_sea_star The tide pools around East Point are also good viewing. The water is quite clear. These are purple sea stars clustered below one of the rock ledges. While we were here several harbor seals swam in and out of the small inlets chasing schools of fish.
Picture of water_snake A bit of a surprise to us was finding several snakes out along the water's edge. Mostly on shore amidst the rocks but this one was hunting in the water offshore.
Picture of russell_reef About midway along the north shore of Saturna is Russell Reef. There is a small pull out here with a pit toilet and room for maybe 4 cars (if optimally parked). There is a submerged offshore reef here and some awesome tide pools between these parallel ridges of rock. There are numerous species of crabs here and it was also a popular hunting spot for bald eagles.
Picture of winter_cove Winter Cove is in the northwest corner of the island and has a good view over the sheltered harbor. There is a hiking trail that leads down to Boat Pass (a narrow gap in the island). It goes under the unpronounceable name "Xwiwxwyus Trail". Yes, we spelled that correctly. Services on the island are quite limited. There does not appear to be a regularly open gas station. There is a small store at the crossroads coming off the ferry and a restaurant right at the dock.

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