I took BC Ferries to camp on Vancouver Island and woke up to the sound of the waves

This essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.

Sailing across the ocean on BC ferries to an island, then falling asleep under the stars, lulled to the sound of the waves, is simply an unbeatable camping experience.

If you’re anything like me, daydreaming about this has probably already made you look for the best camping spots in British Columbia to go to this weekend.

It’s not that easy though. There are endless options to choose from if you want to camp in British Columbia, and it can be difficult to choose just one.

Then add in the fact that the BC camping reservation site is a headache to navigate, and you’ll probably end up like I did a few weeks ago – fed up with picking a campground haphazardly.

That’s literally how I ended up stuffing my oversized camping backpack into my completely loaded Subaru Outback, with four of my friends accompanying me on the trip to French Beach Provincial Park.

Fortunately, my arbitrary selection of campsites turned into an exciting weekend full of adventure, secret waterfalls, whale sightings and lots of laughs.

Morgan Leet and his friends on a beach.Morgan Leet | Narcity

The ferry ride there

Like I said, I had no idea what French Beach Provincial Park was like when I booked it. After an hour on the BC campground booking website, I just selected the first thing it let me do.

Of course, before leaving, I looked it up and was pleasantly surprised.

Not only was our campsite located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, known for its incredible beauty, but we had to take BC Ferries there and go through Victoria.

So my enthusiasm for the trip grew, knowing it would be an adventure.

We booked the 9am ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay so we left Vancouver around 7:30am as you need to be there 30 minutes before the ferry launch time.

The drive from Vancouver was pretty quick, and before we knew it, we were on the ferry.

It was a rainy day, but we got out of the car right away and got some fresh air on the deck. I’ve been living in Vancouver for almost a year now — I don’t let the rain stop me from going out anymore.

BC Ferries Bridge.
BC Ferries Bridge.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Then we headed to the cafeteria area to relax and look out the window at the little islands the ferry flew by. The trip started on an extra memorable note, as from the ferry window we spotted whales playing in the distance.

After that, nothing could erase the smiles from our faces.


We decided to make a short stop to eat in Victoria and do some shopping. To get to the campground we had to drive right by the town anyway so it worked out fine.

We went to Nourish Kitchen & Cafe and had a delicious brunch. I had the pancakes and a coffee – and savored every bite knowing that my next meals were going to be cooked over a campfire.

After doing some shopping, we decided to hit the road again, for the one hour trip to the campsite.

French Beach Provincial Park

Most of the way was along the water which meant we had even more views. Unfortunately, no more whales were seen.

We arrived at the campsite and were wowed by the massive trees all around us which made it feel like a secluded paradise.

French Beach Provincial Park.
French Beach Provincial Park.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Our campsite was equipped with a picnic table and a fire pit. Also, it was a very short walk to the beach.

Camping at French Beach Provincial Park.
Camping at French Beach Provincial Park.Morgan Leet | Narcity

After setting up the campsite, we head to the beach.

The rocky beach was very reminiscent of my home province of Nova Scotia, but you could see the classic BC mountains in the distance making it almost look like a painting.

On the beach, the ocean stretched out in front of us and was beautiful even on cloudy days.

Then we made pasta over the fire and had a few drinks before spending the night.

Pasta on a campfire.
Pasta on a campfire.Morgan Leet | Narcity

The campsite was perfect because you were sheltered from the wind by the forest, but still very close to the ocean.

Morgan Leet and his friends at a picnic table.
Morgan Leet and his friends at a picnic table.Morgan Leet | Narcity

After a long day of travel, we all had our eyes closed by 10 p.m.

mystical beach

After waking up to a lot of rain, we decided to have a quick breakfast and pack our bags. I couldn’t go to Juan de Fuca without visiting the magical Mystic Beach.

It was only a 15 minute drive from the campsite and about a two kilometer walk to reach the beach.

Despite the downpour, we made the hike – and thank goodness we did.

After traversing an incredible rainforest and crossing a suspension bridge, we arrived at a secluded beach.

A forest in British Columbia
A forest in British ColumbiaMorgan Leet | Narcity

Along the side are sea caves you can crawl through and then a breathtaking waterfall that cascades from a cliff above.

Waterfall at Mystic Beach.
Waterfall at Mystic Beach.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Definitely worth the hike and extra hour we took.

Back to home

By the time we finished the hike we had to rush back to Victoria to catch the ferry. We were all quite exhausted but incredibly happy with our weekend.

The ferry ride home involved lots of naps and we stopped at my house at 6pm – it all smelled like a campfire.

So the next time you’re looking for a campsite, search for French Beach and get ready to explore.

About Kevin Strickland

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