Hiking, Vancouver Island

Day 4: Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)

Trail: Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)
Distance Hiked: 13.77 km
Walking Time: 3 hrs, 14 min
Difficulty: Easy
Getting There: Ferry from Maffeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo, BC ($7 return)

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History: Saysutshun is the home of the Snuneymuxw people. It is associated with physical and spiritual healing. After European contact, Saysutshun housed a coal mining operation, a fish-salting plant, a shipyard and a sandstone quarry. It is now a protected marine park and an event destination for the Snuneymuxw people. Saysutshun is rich with traditional stories. Interpretive walking tours are available. You can also read some of these stories here.

Hiking at Saysutshun: Saysutshun includes 22 km of relatively flat, well-tended hiking trails. The most popular path is the Coastal Trail that follows the perimeter of the island (7.5 km). At an average walking speed, it is a two-hour hike. We primarily followed this route, but also added a few extra loops.

The Old Sandstone Quarry: The Channel Trail passes through the old sandstone quarry, which has a fascinating history. In the mid-1800s, a search was conducted by the San Francisco Mint for stone of good quality that would stand up against all types of weather. The sandstone at Saysutshun was deemed a perfect fit. 8,000 tonnes of stone were soon contracted. In February 1872, a ship carrying 500-tonnes of Saysutshun stone was lost at sea. The ship, and its contents, was not found until 1976. The first photo immediately above shows one of the sandstone columns that was recovered after 115 years under water.

Ghosts: This island is said to be haunted. In 1869, Kanaka Pete, originally from Honolulu, was found guilty of murdering his wife, child and inlaws with an axe. He was hung in Nanaimo and buried on Saysutshun. His spirit is said to haunt the island and account for ‘chopping noises’ on Kanaka Bay. We listened carefully but did not hear these noises. We did, however, encounter a slight traffic jam (see first photo below).

Saysutshun is a brilliant place to spend time hiking, running, biking, chilling, picnicking, camping or just hanging out on its beautiful beaches. It is also a great place to discover more of Vancouver Island’s rich and diverse history. We highly recommend a visit. But don’t forget your mask. They are currently required for the ferry.

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Thank you for joining us for #30hikesin30days.


49 thoughts on “Day 4: Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)”

  1. We often headed to Newcastle Island the one year we lived in Nanaimo. A fun, perfect day trip to bring along company and often with young children at the time. I am thoroughly enjoying hiking along with you and Richard, Donna. Wonderful photos! Oh, ghosts! I don’t remember any ghosts, yet they could have been there staring at us. 🙂 And, yes, masks are a thing now.xx


    1. Thanks, Erica. It’s so cool that you lived in Nanaimo. You know this neck of the woods very well. I was delighted to see the mask requirement. Sadly, there is currently very little mask-wearing in our immediate section of the island.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chuck and I were having this conversation, yesterday. I am seeing more and more everywhere in Victoria. I think it is a feeling of consideration and respect to everyone around us. The funny thing is how people seem to give you more space when you are wearing a mask 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Donna, love the water views and managing to see a deer was a bonus I’m off on a tramp [hike] tomorrow, a low of 4 degs I might have to move faster! At least the sun will be shinning


  3. What an absolutely gorgeous spot – on a beautiful day – not much else you could ask for Donna. Loved that you had a ferry ride thrown in for good measure.


  4. What a wonderful coincidence! I was researching Newcastle Island yesterday and had added it to my list of things to do when I’m there in August. Thanks for adding your thumbs up on the destination. I don’t know how much walking I’ll be able to do by August, but I was also interested in a comment I read that recommended kayaking around the island. It sounds just like something I would love to do.


    1. HI, Joanne – That is a very cool coincidence! While we were at Saysutshun, there were several people kayaking around the island. They looked like they were having a blast! I highly recommend placing it high on your list!


      1. Hi, Joanne – I’m so sorry that your walking will likely be reduced in August. Newcastle Island is also great for just chillin’ (after kayaking ofcourse)….and it has an awesome totempole!


  5. I love Newcastle Island. My daughter considered it for her wedding 20 years ago but we decided on Gabriola Island instead. It´s so wonderful you are getting out and about.


  6. I’ve driven by there hundreds of times and didn’t even know it’s name until I read the post. It wasn’t on our radar for some reason when we spent time out there.


  7. Oh wow! I want to go here…right now. And a ferry trip to get there – it just gets better. Love the story… as an aside, I reckon you should put all of these into an ebook when you’re done.


  8. Hi Donna – looks wonderful – and I’d really wanted to visit – but never made it … so glad you’ve shown us some of it … looks wonderful – take care – Hilary


    1. Hi, Anabel – We are grateful to live on an island…and to be surrounded by a bunch of smaller islands to explore. There are so many amazing places to see all around us. I just have to figure out how to get them all in! 😀


  9. If I lived in Nanaimo (or where you live), this would be a favorite destination – to be away from it all, hiking, strolling the beaches, immersing myself in culture. Great destination for a hike!! Or a day trip. 🙂


    1. Hi, Liesbet – Coincidentally, Erica send me a video clip today about Newcastle Island. On it, one woman from Nanaimo, said that she has hiked this island every single day for the past six years. So cool!


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