As Vancouver Island’s most sought-after provincial park, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is one of the hardest camping reservations to snag. But if you’re lucky enough to book a spot, you’re in for a real treat this camping season!
When my mom told me she wanted to join me on one of my camping trips, I knew I needed to find us somewhere special.
Stephanie here at Poptop Treehouse was the first to tell me about Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. It’s a favourite for her in the poptop alongside her kiddo. Then, my friend mentioned how her and her family have been camping there every summer for over a decade. So I knew I had to book a spot on Vancouver Island for my mother/daughter camping trip.
The Beauty of Rathtrevor Beach
The only spot I could book was a walk-in site, so after hauling everything in and setting up camp, we took our dog Daisy and headed to the beach. All it took was the sunset on the first night to understand the magic of the place.
The place is crawling with animals…in a good way! Everyone knows the bunnies are everywhere alongside the not-as-popular Western Thatch Ants, but there were also sightings of owls, hummingbirds, bats, sand dollars, and clams. The clams hide under the sand and spit water at you as you walk by. It kept startling Daisy, and it was hilarious to watch.
Alongside the shoreline, you’ll see the old-growth trees standing tall. Nestled among them are the many campsites full of happy camping families. The trails weave through the provincial park, offering endless walks amongst the trees and beach. On one such evening walk, we watched the full moon rise over the ocean and listened while the kayakers howled. What a fun night!
Of course, the highlight of Rathtrevor is the 2 KM of sandy beaches. Every single campsite is within a 5-minute walk to the beach. And when it’s a hot summer day, even dogs named Daisy who hate the water will wade in the ocean.
Tenting Sites at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
As I mentioned, I spent my time at the walk-in tenting sites at Rathtrevor Beach. Located right at the entrance to the campground, it feels very separate from the rest of the campsite. It opens up to a large field full of walk-in sites that skirt around the edges.
The site is very open, so you won’t have much privacy from your neighbours. This also means you get little shade during the day when it’s hot and sunny. Some lucky sites have more shade than others! At each campsite, you’ll get a picnic table but no firepit.
They have wheelbarrows you can use to haul your stuff in, but it can be a bit of a walk for the sites further at the back. Overall, I’m not a fan of walk-in sites compared to drive-in ones. But when it comes to a walk-in site vs no site at all, it’s still well worth the trip!
Rathtrevor Beach Amenities
As a large campsite, you’ll get plenty of amenities that keep everyone entertained without needing to leave the campground. Beyond the huge stretch of beach dedicated to the campground, there’s also a large day-use area where you’ll find more picnic tables, a playground, and trails for walkers and bikers.
An amphitheatre also puts on occasional shows for kids, and there’s an additional playground in the center of the campground. The kids can also bike along the endless rows of campsites.
A small camp store has ice, snacks, and even propane rentals when fire bans are in effect (s’mores no matter what!). Perhaps one of my favourite amenities is the flush toilets and showers building. I love showering off the ocean at the end of the day and cooling down when the heat still lingers.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is located right in the city of Parksville on Vancouver Island. Parksville is a small city of 12,514 that has a lot going on in the summer. You’ll find the streets lined with tons of resorts and beachgoers. While the jewel of the city is Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, there are plenty more spots to hit the beach and enjoy some sun.
With so many tourists, there are lots to keep you busy in the area in terms of hiking, golfing, fishing, and shopping. Right next to the campsite, you’ll find the family-favourite mini golf course known as Riptide Lagoon Adventure Park.
We did a little drive to Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park (which has its own campsite) for an easy but beautiful trail along the river. While we didn’t stop by this trip, I also recommend a visit to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. We always buy their cream cheese in Victoria! Another local favourite is the Coombs Old Country Market which is famous for its goats on the roof.
Overall Thoughts on Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
It’s completely worth the hype! Rathtrevor Beach has quickly turned into one of my all-time favourite campsites. I haven’t returned to many campgrounds since moving to the lower mainland, instead opting to try out as many as possible. But I can easily see myself returning to Rathtrevor Beach many times! It’s a family-oriented, well-maintained, and absolutely stunning campground to visit.
Written by contributor Holly Heuver.