Mystic Saturna Island

Mystic Saturna Island    by Harrison Kim  

In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” Prospero, the Wizard, and his daughter Miranda are stranded on an island paradise.  Saturna Island would be a perfect place to present the play, high up on Mt. Warburton Pike, the 337-meter mountain rising straight up from the sea.  It is easy to imagine Prospero casting his spells out to the waters. This is a truly mystic place, much of it part of the new Gulf Islands National Park.

Wild goats navigating spectacular bluffs, fog swirling round historic lighthouses, vistas of turquoise blue seas and shadowy islands in the sunset, as far as the eye can see…just a few of the dreamy sights on this small but naturally diverse island.  For a writer, it’s a great place to find quiet, view wildlife, let hours and days flow by while you write and hike and bicycle. There’s a restaurant, a store and several resorts, and only about three hundred and eighty full time residents.  They’re extremely friendly, during the “Tour des Isles,” a June Gulf Islands trip-a-thon, the tour guide showed my wife and I around Saturna.  This “Tour des Isles” is a must for a retreat, you meet locals, imbibe samples at wineries, take in musical events.  

East Point Park, at the far northeast of the island, is a great place for whale watching.  At Winter Cove, a peaceful boat harbour,  a walker can follow a trail to view and hear tidal currents roar between Saturna and Samuel Island, and at Narvaez Bay or the Pike a hiker can gaze out over the Gulf and San Juan islands system. There’s a good trail from the high point of the Pike right through to Narvaez Bay, through varied landscapes ranging from grasslands and firs to rainforest to marshy streams lined with ferns and skunk cabbage.

I camped on Saturna's high point, Warburton Pike, many times before it became part of Gulf Islands National Park. Now, you can’t camp up on the Pike, but you can meditate there as summer light follows the sun’s sky circle, dawn til dusk.  Narvaez Bay has a federal government campsite, for those who like to rough it.  There are also a number of good B and B’s on the island, such as Saturna Lodge and Breezy Bay, most open three seasons of the year.



There are pebble beaches at East Point, an area of eroded sandstone rock formations, and at Russell Reef on the north coastline many intertidal pools where little crabs and colorful sea anemones dwell. At Taylor Point you’ll find stands of old growth trees, and a historic quarry where sandstone was taken to build the Legislative Buildings in Victoria.  You’ll have to get there by kayak…. there’s much excellent kayaking around Saturna.  You can paddle out to Tumbo Island, an ecologically protected area with sandy, driftwood covered bays, a great place for beachcombers.  Seals, orcas, and other wildlife swim by.  The birdwatcher may see oyster catchers, pacific wrens, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, and more.

For the writer, the quiet of Saturna might be is the most inspiring thing.  When you’re in quiet, all sorts of sounds slowly become apparent, sounds that you did not hear before, birds calling, deer munching, the movement of a cricket in the grass.


When there is quiet, there is room to think, there are few distractions, and if you are by the sea at Saturna, there’s the rhythm of the waves to move you into reverie, and new perception.  And at night, of course, all the stars, casting sparkles over the dark sea and the shadowed, fir covered island. 


Ferries to Saturna Island leave Tsawassen Terminal on the Mainland once a day, and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island at least twice per day, depending on the season.











Literary Magazine and Webzine Publications 2020

1.  "For Saxon (And Josh)" published in "Spadina Literary Review," February 2020 edition. https://www.spadinaliteraryrev...