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Backcountry camping

Pirates Cove Marine Park offers six walk-in campsites with tent pads, located just above the south beach. 

  • Please practice Leave No Trace camping ethics. 
  • Garbage facilities are not provided. Visitors must pack out all of their garbage.
  • Please ensure you camp and hike in designated areas. Human disturbance of vegetation leads to erosion of the sensitive shoreline and the potential destruction of archeological sites.

Fees for overnight camping apply year-round.

Backcountry camping fee: $5 per person per night (age 6+)

The BC Parks backcountry permit registration service allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. Although this does not reserve a campsite, it provides the convenience of prepaying for your trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.

If necessary, fees are payable at self-registration vaults located near the water pump. 

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Drinking water

A cold water hand pump is located on the south beach.

Picnic areas

This park has a day-use and picnic area, located adjacent to the camping area. Facilities include a cold water hand pump information shelter and pit toilets. Five kilometres of hiking trails are accessible from the day-use area.

Pit or flush toilets
This park has two pit toilets, located at the north end of the park and the south end of the park near the camping and day-use areas.
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There are 5km of easy hiking trails that weave around and through the park, passing through mature second-growth Douglas fir as well as, arbutus and Garry oak.

Brother XII Trail: Length 800 metres. Approximate walking time: 15 minutes. This trail is a shortcut of the Darkwoods Trail through the interior of the park leading to the camping area.

Darkwoods Trail: Length 1km. Approximate walking time: 20 minutes. This trail cuts through the middle of the park through a Douglas fir ecosystem with mossy sandstone outcroppings. This trail links up to the Pylades Trail and the camping area.

Pylades Trail: Length 3km. Approximate walking time: One hour. The Pylades trail circumnavigates the shoreline around the park, offering spectacular views of Valdes Island and Pylades Channel.

For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.

There is no designated swimming area at this park, however swimming occurs on the sandy south beach. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
This park is a popular destination for ocean kayakers, who use Pirates Cove as a destination area or a rest stop prior to traveling further north or south through the Gulf Islands. The sheltered waters around the Gulf Islands make it a good spot for paddlers of all abilities. The waters around the park also offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Several commercial kayak operations on Vancouver Island offers rentals and tours to this area.

Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate fishing licence.

Wildlife viewing

Pirates Cove offers a variety of excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Common marine mammals include harbour seals (year-round) and Steller’s and California sea lions (common from late August through the mid-May). 

The fortunate may catch glimpses of harbour porpoises or orcas, as well as gray and humpback whales in the summer. River otters also frequent the park and are most easily seen in the early morning. A stroll around the Pylades Trail in the park will likely result in a sighting or two. Watch for areas of flattened grass that otters have used for slides or sun-bathing. 

Birdwatchers will find Wilson’s warblers, Pacific-slope flycatchers, black oystercatchers, white crowned sparrows and other species breeding in the park. Bald eagles, great blue herons and scores of others use the park for foraging and resting.

Pets on leash

Pets and domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.