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Photo by: Tim Harman
Photo by: Tim Harman

Hornby Island

Every Island has their own magical experiences. Reaching Hornby Island takes two ferries, but if you like small isolated communities you may just fall in love. This isolation has nurtured a community of very creative islanders with a concoction of sandy beaches, beautiful ocean that surrounds its terrain, and picturesque shoreline cliffs. Hornsby Island climate is drier than its surrounded regions, and this gives birth to a very unique forest ecosystem.
Dramatic cave and hoodoo formations at Tribune Bay(put link to Tribune Bay page) and at other sides are left as a result of the powerful force of the sea that surrounds Hornby Island. This is a holdover from distant times when the Strait of Georgia was filled with sand. In the recent geological times glaciation gouged out the trench and is now filled with seawater.

Reservations

There are no public campgrounds in Hornsby Island, thus private accommodations must be made. There are, however, public campgrounds on adjacent Denman Islands. During summer, reservations are highly recommended.

Fast Facts


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Population: 

1,000.


Hornby Island location is off the east coast of Vancouver Island, just east of Denman Island – one hour north of Nanaimo.


A vehicle and passenger ferry service can be scheduled from Buckley Bay to Denman and Hornsby Island from BC Ferries. To land on Denman Islands, take a daily 15-minute ferry ride. Denman Islands takes you to Gravelly Bay and the ferry that connects Shingle Spit on Hornby Island.

Local Attractions

The creative spirit of the island lies in the historical Hornby Community Hall and the Co-op Store. Built beautifully in the native Hornby Island style, the community hall is very hard to miss.

The Hornby Festival

An extremely popular summer event is The Hornby Festival, an island speciality where many types of music genres are displayed, from traditional folks to classical or jazz.

Hornby Motto

Make it, Bake it, Grow it” is the motto that Hornby Island Farmers live by. Since 1995, when it was established, the Market allows home-bakers, growers, and others in the art of avenue to show their specialities. The market’s location lies off Central Road, near the northern part of the island.

Outdoor Activities

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Diving

One of the Hornby’s many attractions is world-class diving, having divers coming to St.John Point in Helliwell Provincial Park just to dive along with the mysterious, rare six-gill sharks off Flora Island. These mysterious deep-water creatures can exceed 15 feet (4.5 metres) in lengths. Underwater gardens and interesting caves in Heron Rocks, Norris Rocks, Lambert Channel and Maude Reef are also open for exploration.

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Cycling

Cycling on Hornby is a very popular form of transportation, as there are many paved roads and little to no traffic.

Beaches and Provincial Parks

Tribune Bay Provincial Park

Locally known as Little Hawaii, Tribune Bay (put link to page) was recently voted as one of the best beaches Canada has to offer. During summer here it is not unlikely for the waters to reach near-tropical temperatures. Eroded hoodoo rock formations can be found here as well, creating an unusual yet fascinating rocky shoreline. Helliwell Pronvincial Park can be found at the northern entrance to Tribune Bay. Spectacular sights of Georgia Strait and the Coast Mountains can be seen from the cliffs. Helliwell’s high headland provide some mesmerizing sightings of Killer Whales.

Mt Geoffrey Regional Park

Whether you’re as beginning or advanced mountain biker, Mount Geoffrey Regional Park offers challenges for everyone. Riders of all skill levels are encouraged to try the Middle Bench Trails which crests along the precarious and beautiful cliffs. Many trails intersect the island in all directions. Another worthwhile option is The No Horses Trail, having a half-pipe trail that follows an old riverbed.

Walking Hiking

hiking iconThe most popular walking routes and hiking trails on Hornby are comfortable and easy.  Among the best trails on Hornby lead around Helliwell Provincial Park.  A loop trail of 5 km that follows the Helliwell Bluffs is the most renowned trail. It leads you through Haliwell Bluffs that rise above the beach, and then lead through open fields and magnificent stands of old-growth Douglas Fir.

Wildlife

bear iconHornby Island, being secluded and relatively undisturbed, it hosts many different types of animal species.  Bald Eagles are common sightings during spring and summer. Stellar and California sea lions have been growing in number here since 1970s. Hornby is also known for being one of the sites for the largest herring spawn in BC. Other species can be found as well, including Harlequin ducks and six-gilled shark.

History & Geology

The first inhabitants of the island were Pentlatch, a Coast Salish First Nations band. They called the Island Ja-dai-aich, meaning The outer Island. Spanish people discovered the island in 1791, and named it Isla de Lerena. It was renamed, however, in 1850 by the British, after the Rear Admiral Phipps Hornby. A Whaling Station was opened in 1871, bringing people back to the island for the first time. The Islands Trusts was created in 1973 in order to help protect and preserve Gulf Islands such as Hornby.