Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville is one of the best camping picnic areas on Vancouver Island. Giant old-growth firs, an incredible sandy beach with campsites located in the mature Douglas fir forest. At low tide, the ocean goes out for almost a kilometer and this gives visitors a chance to walk on endless sandy beaches.
There are many campsites in this forest along with trails throughout the park. All campsites are within a 5-min walk of the beach. Bird watching is popular in March and April when the herring spawn goes on and Rathtrevor Beach is also famous for its return of the migrating Brant Geese.
In 1886, William and Elizabeth Rath and their baby girl settled where the park now sits, they had four more children over the next few years who helped work the land as they built a farm out of the wilderness. In 1903, William passed on leaving the running of the farm to Elizabeth. She worked the farm but also began to look at the possibility to build a campground here for the many visitors that were coming to the area to get away from the city of Nanaimo. She changed the name of the farm to Rathtrevor because it had a nice sound to it.
The campground became a hit right away and soon families were coming to camp, swim and just beachcombing along the endless beaches. When the tide is out, you can seem to walk out for miles and when the tide rolls in over the hot sand in the summer, the water gets heated up and the swimming is just awesome. There are adventure playgrounds for the kids and plenty of undercover picnic areas here, the trails lead to all areas of the park.
There are 174 drive-in campsites here plus another 25 walk-in sites, the campground has a sani-station, hot showers, flush and pit toilets, and endless trails. To camp here, I recommend that you make reservations as the park is usually full from July 1 up to September 30. Camping is permitted year-round with summer fees from March 16 up to October 15, there is a small winter fee from October 16 up to March 15 but there are no services and campers need to be self-sufficient during this time.
Bring your camera as you could see deer, raccoons, squirrels, otters, eagles, hawks, turkey vultures, owls, and many shore and migratory birds that visit the area. Birdwatchers will see the return of the little Black Brant goose as they stopover to bulk up on eelgrass and herring spawn before continuing on its way. The bird watchers seem to be on their own migration as they follow the geese. Please stay back from the geese and no pets are allowed on the beach at this time.
The nature house at the park is just incredible, it is open from May until September and you can learn much about the park and through live exhibits, you can see the various creatures like frogs and gastropods, insects and plants that make up the park’s smaller inhabitants. You can purchase gifts like t-shirts, toys, and books along with other souvenirs.
Rathtrevor campground became a provincial park in 1967.