I Took BC Ferries To Go Camping On Vancouver Island & Woke Up To The Sound Of Waves

If you want an adventure, look no further.

Morgan Leet and a friend. Mystic Beach waterfall.

Morgan Leet and a friend. Mystic Beach waterfall.

This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Sailing across the ocean on BC ferries to an island, and then going to sleep under the stars, lulled by the sound of waves — is simply an unbeatable camping experience.

If you're like me, the dreaminess of that probably already has you looking for the best camping spots in B.C. to go to this summer.

It's not so easy though. There are endless options to choose from if you want to go camping in B.C., and it can actually be overwhelming to choose just one.

Then add on the fact that the B.C. camping reservation site is a headache to navigate, and you will probably end up just like I did — fed up and picking some random campground.

That's quite literally how I ended up stuffing my oversized camping backpack into my completely full Subaru Outback, with four of my friends tagging along for the journey to French Beach Provincial Park.

Thankfully, my arbitrary camping site selection turned into an exciting weekend full of adventure, secret waterfalls, whale spottings, and lots of laughs.

\u200bMorgan Leet and friends on a beach.Morgan Leet and friends on a beach.Morgan Leet | Narcity

The ferry ride there

Like I said, I had no idea what French Beach Provincial Park even looked like when I booked it. After an hour on the B.C. campsite booking website, I just selected the first thing it allowed me to.

Of course, before going I searched it up and was happily surprised.

Not only was our campsite located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca — known for its incredible beauty — but we got to take BC Ferries over to it, and pass by Victoria.

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

We booked the 9 a.m. ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, so left Vancouver at about 7:30 a.m., since you need to get there 30 minutes before the ferry launch time.

The drive from Vancouver was fairly 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 hit the deck for some fresh air. Living in Vancouver for almost a year now — I don't let the rain stop me from going outside anymore.

BC Ferries deck.BC Ferries deck.Morgan Leet | Narcity

Then we headed to the cafeteria area to relax and look out the window at the tiny islands that the ferry soared by. The trip started on an extra memorable note, because right from the window of the ferry we spotted some whales playing in the distance.

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


We decided to make a little pit stop for food in Victoria and to shop around a bit. To get to the campsite, we had to drive right by the city anyway, so it worked out well.

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

After hitting up a few shops we decided to get on the road again, for the one-hour drive to the campground.

French Beach Provincial Park

Almost the whole drive there was along the water, which meant we got even more views. Unfortunately, no more whales were spotted.

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

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

Our campsite was equipt with a picnic table and fire pit. Plus, it was a super short walk down to the beach.

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

After setting up the campsite we headed down to the beach.

The rocky beach was super reminiscent of my home province of Nova Scotia, but you could see the classic B.C. mountains off in the distance, which almost made it look like a painting.

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

Then we cooked up some pasta over the fire and had some drinks before calling it a night.

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

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

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

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

Mystic Beach

After waking up to lots of rain, we decided to have a quick breakfast and pack up. I couldn't go to Juan de Fuca without checking out the magical Mystic Beach though.

It was just a 15-minute drive from the campsite, and about a two-kilometre hike to reach the beach.

Despite the downpour, we made the trek — and thank god we did.

After hiking through an incredible rainforest and over a suspension bridge we came to a remote beach.

A forest in B.C.A forest in B.C.Morgan Leet | Narcity

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

Mystic Beach waterfall.Mystic Beach waterfall.Morgan Leet | Narcity

It was hands-down worth the hike in, and the extra hour or so that we tagged on.

The ride home

By the time we finished the hike, we had to rush back to Victoria to make the ferry. We were all pretty exhausted but unbelievably happy with our weekend away.

The ferry ride home involved lots of naps, and we pulled up to my house by 6 p.m. — all smelling like a campfire.

So, the next time you're on the hunt for a campsite — look for French Beach, and get ready to explore.

Morgan Leet
Morgan Leet is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media based in Vancouver, B.C.