Denman Island (an island just off an island) – Days 44 & 45

Family walking on beach with tide out

One of those places where the journey is better than the destination. That’s Denman Island to me. Paige and I had to fill a couple days before the kids started summer camp near Victoria so we decided on a two-night stay on Denman Island. I didn’t know anything about the place but it had availability and fit into the budget, so we gave it a shot.

We took off from Port Alberni with our stomachs full of a breakfast of salmon, bread and jam from the bed and breakfast. We knew we had to get to the ferry terminal in the late afternoon so we were in no rush. The area around Parksville on the east coast of the island has a bunch of kid-friendly attractions we wanted to check out.

First was the beach. Julie loves making sand castles and we stumbled across a big sand castle competition (we have no way of validating its importance on the professional sand castle circuit). Julie was amazed at the ginormous sculptures and kept reminding me not to touch the displays. After having voted for our favourite sculptures, the kids were ready to go out and play with the actual sand on the beach. The tide was really far out leaving a huge expanse of sand for the kids to go exploring for critters. It was the best beach yet with red rock and hermit crabs aplenty. Oyster shells and clams were everywhere. We spent a full hour turning over rocks and then catching the crabs and then putting them back and then moving on to the next rock. Fortunately no one fell and cut themselves on barnacles!

We eventually made it to the ferry but not before stopping along the road to pick some blackberries. This was the first time we had seen blackberry bushes growing along the road and we filled a Tupperware with unripe berries. And everyone got at least one prick from the thorns. Over the next two weeks, we would become experts at picking them, able to fill a pint in 2 minutes. But our first attempt left room for improvement.

Child Picking blackberries in bush
Isabella and the unripe blackberries

  The ferry to Denman Island was a cable ferry which fascinated me. Paige and the girls did not share my enthusiasm so I won’t bore anyone with the details of how a cable ferry operates. We rolled off the ferry, checked into our campsite (no one was actually there) and realized the store on the island was closed for the night. We saw a sign on the road saying there was a concert occurring at the community centre that evening. So with nothing else to do, we jumped in the car, drove the two minutes into town and watched a group of about forty elderly residents belt out the Beatles’ greatest hits for one hour.

Sign on Denman Island

If the Beatles weren’t playing, It would have been a long two days. A by-product of our time on Denman is that Isabella now associates the Beatles with the elderly.

By the numbers:

  • Distance Traveled: 10,970km
  • Times we picked blackberries on the side of the road:  6
  • Beaches we visited to look for marine life: 4
  • Aggressive crabs caught by Izzy: 6
  • Time the aggressive crabs pinched Izzy: 2
  • Ice Cream: 2

Where we stayed (five words or less):

Wildlife Spotted:

  • Crabhammer crabs
  • Oysters
  • Sand Dollars
  • Hermit Crabs
  • Kelp Crabs
  • Purple Starfish

Ciao for now,


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