View of the harbour from Saysutshun

Experiencing the Vast Beauty of Saysutshun

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A place that has long captured the hearts of the Snuneymuxw people and the wonder of visitors from across the province and beyond, Saysutshun, known formerly as Newcastle Island, is a wild piece of paradise that offers a natural and cultural experience for guests seeking to connect with nature and the deeply rooted history of this breathtaking land.

A family-friendly park only accessible by foot passenger ferry or boat, the trip to Saysutshun is an adventure in itself, and reminds visitors of the beauty in the art of slow and mindful travel. Experiencing this place with intention is the mindset visitors should adopt on arrival to Saysutshun.

Natural Beauty

An island much revered for its natural beauty, Saysutshun is held closely and dearly by the Snuneymuxw people. On any visit to the island, you’ll experience the calm serenity of the Salish Sea drifting in and out of the tidal beaches. Their oceanside campground brings visitors up close and personal to the stunning vistas of the surrounding area, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the diverse tidal pools, sandy beaches, moss-covered rainforest, and historical sites of the area.

Cultural Significance

One of the most unique things that you can experience on a visit to Saysutshun is its incredible history. There are several historic sites that you can easily visit on a visit to Saysutshun, including relics of Snuneymuxw village. There are also several sandstone quarries, fish salteries, and archival coal mine sites for the whole family to epxlore.

Unique wildlife

When we talk about the cultural significance and importance of places like Saysutshun, we get equally excited about unique wildlife experiences and encounters, that are only really seen in places as wild as this. Spirit Bears, those adorable white-colored bears seen in the Great Bear Rainforest and speckled in hidden areas of the PNW also show up on Saysutshun, but in a slightly different way. The area is known for its few Spirit Raccoons, which recently had a litter – an exciting piece of news for locals and visitors alike. There are now five to seven golden raccoons on the island now with a recessive gene that’s similar to that of a Kermode Bear, more commonly known as a Spirit Bear.

A totem pole on Saysutshun, a short ferry ride from Nanaimo
Saysutshun, a short ferry ride from Nanaimo | @glamouraspirit_

What To Experience on Saysutshun


There are several experiences not to be missed on any visit to Saysutshun, including these three other ideas of how to spend your time on any visit to this breathtaking island.




Join the Interpretive Walking Tour

Beginning at the Totem Pole just as you leave the ferry dock, this walking tour is a fantastic opportunity to experience the rich culture of the area from the Snuneymuxw themselves. A well-versed Snuneymuxw guide will meet you on arrival, and introduce you respectfully to the Snuneymuxw First Nation sacred village sites. Here you will experience a first-hand perspective on the traditions and cultural history of Saysutshun and its people. From beautiful stories that have been passed down from generation to generation, you’ll learn how deeply connected this land is to the Snuneymuxw people, and have the ability to more deeply form a connection and respect for the land you are visiting.

Visit the Q’uluc’tun Bistro

Located in the restored 1930s teahouse in the dance pavilion on Saysutshun, refuel your bellies after a long day of kayaking, swimming, walking, and adventuring amongst the beauty of Saysutshun. The restaurant is open daily from 11am-7pm, with options for all dietary requirements.

Hike the Coastal Loop Trail

The coastal trail follows the perimeter of the island and is around 7.5km long, taking around about two hours. Dogs are welcome on trail but are required to be on leash and there’s a short side trip that will take you to Mallard Lake if you’d like to extend your trip. The trail offers stunning coastal views of the surrounding waters and islands, and is a fantastic way to experience the island in its entirety.

Getting there

The large majority of visitors to Saysutshun arrive via the dedicated foot passenger ferry service from Nanaimo. The dock on the Nanaimo side is located at Maffeo Sutton Park just North of Downtown Nanaimo, making it a convenient addition to any Nanaimo visit. The ferry takes around 10 minutes to cross to Saysutshun and is a great way to experience the open water surrounding the city. Dogs are welcome to visit the island, but must be on leash during your stay.

Alternatively, you can also take a private motorized boat, kayak, or canoe depending on weather and conditions. Always ensure that you pack your appropriate safety material and are comfortable on open water before embarking on any private boat adventure to Saysutshun.

Saysutshun, a short ferry ride from Nanaimo | @glamouraspirit_

Camping on Saysutshun

There are 18 wonderful campsites on Saysutshun, located within a small walk of both the ferry dock. The maximum camping party size is eight people, with up to four adults allowed per site. Reservations fill up incredibly quickly throughout the summer, so ensure that you book in advance. You’ll need to walk on the ferry with your gear. Note: excess gear and bikes may cost extra, so ensure you check your limits before embarking on your trip.

Camping Facilities include:

  • Potable water
  • Flushable toilets and outhouses
  • Foot lockers
  • Coin-operated warm showers
  • Campfire rings (when permitted)
  • Picnic tables
  • BBQ shelters