Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Savary Island! Car-free Holiday Number 3!

Savary Island is a remote getaway, off the coast of the Sunshine Coast near Lund. Beautiful beaches, warm(ish) ocean, and pretty quiet.

It is fairly hard to get to, and therefore more expensive than the other holidays I've written about. There's no regular ferry service to the island; you can only get there by float plane, or water taxi from Lund.

Of course, getting from Vancouver to Lund without the use of a car is not so easy - public transportation will only get you to Powell River, and, with 2 ferries in the way, it takes a lot of time. We were looking for a weekend getaway, and time was of the essence, so we decided to bite the bullet and fly.

  
[float plane terminal on the Fraser River. All photos mine]

From the South Terminal at Vancouver Airport to the beach on Savary takes 30-40 minutes, and costs $300/person (return). Like I said, expensive. Note: it isn't much cheaper to fly to Powell River (scheduled flights) and then to taxi + water-taxi, so taking the float plane is worth it once you've decided to fly. On a nice day, it's a stunning journey.

 [overflying BC Ferries on its way to Nanaimo.]

 
[you land on the beach, so be prepared for wet feet!] 

The island is small and accomodations limited: we stayed at the Savary Island Resort, which I can unreservedly recommend. The place is steps from the beach, although it doesn't have a view, being located in the forest.

The resort is quite new and has 2 self-contained suites (each sleeps 2, with own full kitchen and bathroom and private patio) as well as 4 "bunk" rooms which sleep 4 (1 queen, 2 singles) and have their own sink + toilet. The bunking option includes use of a very large, well-appointed communal kitchen - two full stoves (incl oven), fridges, and a full set of pots and pans and sharp knives. There's a common outdoor patio, and very nice showers. It's really a very nice place to stay and the proprietors are extremely helpful.

Other accomodation options include booking one of the many private cabins (for longer stays) - check the internet for listings - or staying in a B&B (the Savary Island Lodge is in one of the oldest log homes on the island, near the government wharf). There are no equipped campsites. If you are careful and discreet you can apparently camp "wild", but there are no public toilets or sources of fresh water, so be prepared.

There are also no real shops on the island. You cannot buy liquor at all, or much in the way of groceries either. The folks at the Savary Island Resort will take your emailed shopping list and have your supplies waiting for you in the fridge when you get there - a real plus, since the float plane limits you to 12kg in baggage! There is a single pub and one other cafe, so dining out is limited as well.

Since you can't bring your car onto the island, you'll be walking everywhere. Or you can rent a bike on the island from the shop up the hill from the wharf at Mace Point. This is highly recommended - you can bike from one end of the island to the other in about 30 minutes. There's excellent kayaking around the island, and rental is available. Try some of those new "stubby" play-kayaks with see-through bottoms!
[the main road]

There are lots and lots of cottages on Savary Island - the place has a long history as a holiday destination and was subdivided for cottage lots in the 20's. There's a real "westcoast mix" of folks with lots of money and no time, and others with lots of time and no money, rubbing shoulders. The cottages are very close together, it's not an "acreage" type of setup like you find on the other islands. There's no real town center either. This gives the island the impression of a giant campground, which is reinforced by the island's single dusty dirt road, full of kids eating ice cream...you feel like you've been transported back to your youth.

 
 [pull out onto one of the many empty beaches on Savary.]

The Savary beaches are the main attraction - the island is surrounded by white sand beaches and shallow seas, quite unlike most of the other Gulf islands. Highly recommended for a kick-back-and-relax family vacation, if you can find a way to get there!
 
[sunny sandy Savary]