Serene Schooner Cove Sunset

Sun Setting at Schooner Cove
Looking west at the setting sun at Schooner Cove in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Yellow Sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia) in the foreground amongst the drift logs.

Schooner Cove in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is one of my favourite places on the west coast of Vancouver Island to visit. It takes a little longer to get to (about 30 to 45 minutes depending on which parking area you choose and how fast you’re walking), and for that reason it’s less crowded than other places in the park. If you’re planning to do this hike in the evening and return after sunset, a flashlight is recommended. Make sure to check the tides as well as there is a natural choke point along the way.

I usually try to time my visits with a low tide since the rocky tidal island in the middle of the cove is spectacular for intertidal life. It’s hard to get to before sunrise because the parking areas don’t open until around 7 am, so sunset is a good option. For some reason, despite the many seasons I’ve worked out here, I’ve never gone out to photograph the cove in the evening.

Rocky Islet
Subtle colours in the clouds and sky above the rocky islet after the sun sets in Schooner Cove.

I met Bob Bellefleur a week ago photographing South Beach and when he suggested Schooner as an location for a shoot I decided to join him. We hiked out via the Schooner Cove Trail access point (I usually prefer Incinerator Rock — it’s slightly longer but walking back on the beach after dark is easier than navigating the stairs and boardwalk of the Schooner Trail).

The weather cooperated and we managed to get some good light and clouds. I decided to focus more on the drift logs at the high tide line to capture the overall view of the cove and some of the native plants like yellow sand verbena (Abronia latifolia) in the foreground. The wind has shaped the sand here in the cove and the driftwood has a lot of character! At this time of the day there was no one else on the beach except a couple of local kids who had bicycled out to catch the sunset from the top of the rocky island.

Last Light
Last light of the sun reflects in the wet beach curving towards the island in the middle of Schooner Cove.

By the time we packed up and started heading out around 10 pm the light was finally starting to fail. I’m definitely planning another sunset shoot here this summer, the landscape and the sweep of the cove is spectacular.

To view more photographs from Schooner Cove please visit