North America > Canada > British Columbia > Vancouver Island > Central Vancouver Island > Hornby Island
BC Ferries does a two-leg journey to get to Hornby. The first ferry connects Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island to Denman Island. From there, it's an 11 km drive across Denman to 1 Gravelly Bay to catch the second ferry to 2 Shingle Spit on Hornby Island. Both ferries carry cars and foot traffic; it's the only way to bring your own car to Hornby.
From Nanaimo, head north on BC Highway 19 to the Buckley Bay exit (exit 101) and take the road east to the Buckley Bay ferry terminal. The drive is roughly an hour. From Courtenay / Comox, it's roughly a ½ hr drive south on BC Highway 19.
A bus can get you as far as the Buckley Bay ferry terminal, but you'll need to hitch across Denman Island or have a ride arranged to complete your journey.
- Tofino Bus stops at Buckley Bay, with connections north and south.
- Comox Valley Transit Route 10 runs between Buckley Bay and downtown Courtenay five times daily M-F, four times on Sat and twice on Sun.
The main road on the island is Central Road, a strip of pavement that nearly circumnavigates the island. It starts at the ferry dock at Shingle Spit, heads up the west coast of the island and across the north-center to the Four Corners (a.k.a. "Downtown Hornby"). From there, it hangs a right and heads south to Ford Cove. The trip from the ferry to the Four Corners is about a 15-20 minute drive.
By public transit
See and do
The attraction of Hornby Island is the outdoors, with some of the best sights protected by parks. Take in views of mountains and ocean or a mix of forests while hiking, mountain biking or kayaking.
- 1 Helliwell Provincial Park, end of St. John's Point Rd. Park located on a rocky headland best known for its oceanside hike on top of the Helliwell bluffs. The 5 km loop has plenty of views of Hornby Island and across the Strait of Georgia to the Coast Mountains. Other highlights include some old-growth Douglas fir forest and, in spring, wildflowers near the cliffs. Offshore is Flora Islet, a diving spot that is one of two places in the world to see the Six-gill shark.
- 2 Mount Geoffrey, 1675 Lea Smith Rd, with other entrances at the end of Strachan Rd, Northwind Rd, Slade Rd, Euston Rd and the cemetary on Central Rd. A series of parks and crown land that preserve Mount Geoffrey, the highest point on the island, and nearby cliffs. The 50 km of hiking and mountain biking trails go through forests, along cliff tops and to the peak of Mount Geoffrey (330 m) for some panoramic views. Trails range from wide and good for walking to expert-rated biking trails; a good map is available from the park's website.
- 3 Tribune Bay Provincial Park, St. John's Point Rd (at the "Corners", head north on St. John's Point Rd and then a right onto Tribune Bay Provincial Park access road). Golden-white sand beach with shallow clear water that is popular for swimming, skimboarding and standup paddleboarding.
- 4 Whaling Station Bay Beach, Anderson Rd (from the Coop, head north on St. John's Point Rd to Anderson Rd). Shallow sandy bay and beach that's popular for swimming. Parking is along the side of the road with a number of access points to the beach. Drivers should respect the private property and not block driveways.
- 1 Hornby Island Outdoor Sports, 5875 Central Rd (at Ringside Market), ☏ . 10AM-5PM. Bike rentals and sales, as well as paddleboard and skimboard rentals. Rentals are by the hour, day or week. Bike rentals $10-25 first hour, $3-10 each additional hour, $30-75 for a day; Paddleboards $7.50 hourly, $65 for a day; Skimboards $5 hourly, $20 daily.
- 1 Hornby Island Coop, 5875 Central Rd (at the "Four Corners" and Ringside Market), ☏ . Su-M W-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM. Local grocery and hardware store, pharmacy and post office. Groceries are on the main floor and the hardware is downstairs.
Eat and drink
- 1 Forage Farm & Kitchen, 5875 Central Rd, ☏ . 9:30AM-3PM daily, plus Th-Su 5PM-8:30PM. Local farm fresh ingredients and a varied menu with breakfast options, sandwiches, burgers, salad and a noodle bowl. Many of the breakfast items have vegetarian or gluten-free options. $7.50-15 (breakfast), $10-21 (lunch & dinner items).
- 2 Thatch Pub & Restaurant, 4325 Shingle Spit Rd, ☏ . Open during the summer only. The Thatch lays claim to being the only "watering hole" on Hornby. Lots of pub standards like chicken wings, fries and burgers, plus a number of seafood options like coconut prawns, calamari and a halibut burger. The drink menu has a small mix of local, import and craft beers, plus some red and white wines. $5-19.
- 1 Ford's Cove Marina Cottages & Camping, 10835 Central Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 9AM (cottage), 11AM (campsite). Self-contained cottages with one or two bedrooms and include full kitchens. The campsites accommodate tents or RVs and some have electrical hook-ups. The location is a short walk to a beach and the trails at Mt Geoffrey park. There is also a general store on site with baked goods, coffee, sandwiches and pizza. Cottages: $1,350/week July-Aug (one week minimum stay), $109-159/night at other times of the year; Camping: $48/site July-Aug, $30-42/site at other times, power hook-up extra $6/night.
- 2 Sea Breeze Lodge, 5205 Fowler Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . 16 cottages on a large property with a rocky beach. Many of the cottages have full kitchens and can sleep between 2-8 people. July-Aug: Cottages rented weekly Sun-Sun, $1,400 per adult including meals (children $450-900 depending on age). Sept-June: Cottages available daily, meals not included $145-210/night (Mar-June & Sept-Oct), $120-175 (Nov-Feb).
- 3 Bradsdadsland, 2105 Shingle Spit Rd, ☏ . Family-oriented campground with just over 50 sites between the main road and a beach. Some sites have power hook-ups. Amenities include two flush toilets, eight outhouses, coin-operated showers, laundry facilities, children's playground and beach access. $50-62 late June to early Sept, cheaper rates at other times. Power hook-ups $4.50-$5.50 and sewer $5/dump.
- 4 Tribune Bay Campground, 5200 Shields Rd, ☏ . Check-in: after 11 AM, check-out: 11AM. 116 drive-in campsites with fire pits and picnic tables. 18 sites have electrical hook-ups and some sites are shaded. Amenities include showers (coin-operated), outhouses, women's and men's wash houses, a dryer and a children's playground. The campground has a good location, being next to the Ringside Market (with shops, food and a sports rental shop) and is walking distance to Tribune Bay beach. Reviewers indicate it can get crowded and is sometimes noisy at night. $40 standard site, $45 powered site. Price includes 4 people, additional persons are $10/night (adult) and $5/night (child). The campground only operates June 15 - Sept 15.