San Josef Bay

April 1st, 2010 | by | 2 Comments
Published in Destinations, North Vancouver Island
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San Josef Bay

The beach at San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park.

I have made two visits to the San Josef Bay area of Cape Scott Provincial Park. The area is an excellent place for both beach combing and photography.

On the first occasion we drove to the trail head, parked and backpacked the short distance to San Josef Bay. This is a short hike (less than an hour) on a good trail. Family campers were packing in their supplies in a wheelbarrow! On our first night we were awakened to yelling and cursing. One of our party had a mouse in his tent that he could not capture until he could see it in daylight.

I found plenty to see and do from the San Josef Bay campsite. I enjoy beach walking and beach combing. In the evening light I photographed and shot one of my favorite beach images. Great views of the coast and the sub alpine scenery can be obtained with a day hike up Mt. St. Patric. The trail is accessible from the beach, and though it can be slippery and muddy it is well worth the effort. More ambitious hikers can descend from Mt. St. Patric to Sea Otter Cove but the trail is less defined and only suitable for the more experienced hiker. Canoing and Kayaking are possible in the area. There is a boat launch near the trail head and you can paddle down the river to the ocean on higher tides.

On a second visit, with a camper on my truck, we stayed in the RV area near the trailhead. We were able to enjoy day hikes to San Josef beach and other nearby places of interest. With a base at San Josef Bay, other side trips can be made to Winter Harbor, Raft Cove and Grant Bay.

Sea Stacks at San Josef Bay

Sea Stacks at San Josef Bay.

A highlight was a side trip along the road to Port Hardy to visit Ronnings Garden. We took the signed side road, parked and walked a short distance to the garden. A Black Bear had been just ahead of us on the trail, leaving his or her calling cards.

This heritage garden, started by Brent Ronning in 1910 has an interesting history and contains many plants and shrubs imported from around the world. Anyone who has started a garden will be impressed at the work involved in starting a garden of this scale in the rain forest. When we visited, the new owners were busy propagating Monkey Puzzle trees which thrive in the unlikely habitat. An interesting comparison is with Cougar Annie’s Garden on the coast north of Tofino.

About the Contributor:

Chris Carter is a photographer based in the Comox Valley, British Columbia. His current work can be viewed in galleries on Vancouver Island and on his web site.


  1. shalyn. says:

    November 19th, 2012 at 8:36 am (#)

    I love this beach! Truly an unknown gem on Vancouver Island, great and informative post you have! Cheers

  2. Tourism Attractions in Port Hardy and Beyond says:

    February 23rd, 2016 at 12:30 pm (#)

    […] This white sand beach is located about 45 minutes by foot from the parking lot and is the gateway to rugged Cape Scott Provincial Park. For the truly adventurous there is camping on the beach. […]

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