Because of Mayne Island’s small size (21 square kilometres), it’s not impossible to see and do ‘everything’ that it has to offer in just a few days. But if you relax into the island pace, and let yourself be charmed by the vibrant locals, no amount of time could possibly feel like enough.
We recently hopped on a ferry for a quick visit. Take note that, although the ride itself is only 70-90 minutes from Tsawwassen Terminal, ferries are scarce and advance reservations are highly recommended for walk-ons as well as vehicles. Here are a few places that we recommend checking out…
Where to Eat
Mayne Island’s first (and only) farm-to-table restaurant draws inspiration from island produced ingredients like locally raised cattle and fresh veggies from local gardens. Whatever proprietors and partners Jan (ex-Farmers Apprentice) and Randi (ex-Acorn, Maenam) can’t find within the island’s radius is sourced from as close as possible. From Friday to Tuesday, you can drop in to their homey dining room to enjoy a set lunch of soup and sourdough toast (made with Flourist grains), or make a night of it with a leisurely dinner featuring a menu that changes frequently in response to what is ready for harvest on the island. Also available: thoughtfully crafted cocktails, local natural wines, local draft beer and cider. Tip: loaves of Das Nest’s housemade sourdough are also available to pre-order and make an excellent ‘souvenir’ or gift (if it survives the return ferry trip, that is).
Sate your carb (and pun) craving by hitting up Give Pizza Chance, a family-run food truck serving up rock’n’roll icon inspired wood-fired pizzas three nights a week from the Island’s centre. Among the pie options are the ‘Janis Joplin’ (pesto, black olives, red pepper, sun-dried tomato, mozzarella, feta, fig balsamic reduction) and the ‘Ozzy Osbourne’ (house made Italian sausage, Red Barn bacon, pepperoni, roasted garlic, fire-roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella). Take note: customers queue up early and the truck is known to sell out hours before closing!
Where to Drink
Being the island’s sole brewery is a mixed blessing for Michael and Annette, the founders of Mayne Island Brewing. A true family operation – from the brewing and foraging of ingredients, to the brand’s original artwork (Annette is a creative force), the labelling, serving and other day-to-day operations – the brewery is always bustling with both locals and visitors. Order a flight or glass (if you can have only one, the seasonally inspired Forager Saison is a must) and kick back in the wooded, outdoors ‘tasting room’. If you’re lucky, you might even be treated with a visit from their extended ‘family’, cat sisters Moon and Luna, and/or Angus the border collie.
WHAT TO DO
EXPLORE | Looking for a new way to get to know Mayne Island? The Das Nest menu can do double-duty as a guide to the Island’s local farms. Go for a spin, and plan for plenty of pit stops to pick up provisions from the various roadside farm stands – a necessity especially if you’re navigating the island’s hilly terrain on bike or foot! Besides its gorgeous natural environment, and ocean views, the island is chockfull of colourfully and creatively decorated residences. Keep one eye on the road and the other on the lookout.
SIGHTSEE | A short ride along Georgina Point Road from the Village Bay Ferry Terminal (10 min by car or approximately 25 on bike) is the historic Active Pass Lighthouse. Wander around the picturesque grounds, which also include a 1940s Lightkeeper’s residence, garage, engine and radio room, and storage shed. The property also affords incredible views of passing ferries, and across the Strait of Georgia to Galiano Island and the mainland. Clamber down to the water to pick your way over the rocks and perhaps catch a glimpse of a feeding seal or passing Orcas, plus oysters, tafoni, and time-bleached driftwood.
NATURE | Go for a night stroll or drive and you’re guaranteed to encounter Mayne Island’s notorious European fallow deer population, which have run rampant since escaping a farm in the early 1990s, infringing on the indigenous black-tail species’ food supply and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Although measures are being made to control the population, the deer are not shy to make their appearance! Venture down to one of island’s 14 beach access points to activate the water’s natural bioluminescence (think underwater fireflies) by either taking a dip (weather-permitting) or disturbing the water with a fallen branch or piece of driftwood.
COMMUNITY ART | Head to any of Mayne Island’s landmarks and you’re sure to spot the Piggott Bay Crew’s unique painted heart-shaped signs bearing slogans like “Love is the Mayne Objective”, “Every Child Matters”, “PEACE”, “LOVE”, “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and “MAYNE LOVE”. Fashioned out of washed up plywood collected from the beach, there are over 50 signs total, distributed via a late night art bombing replacement project, in reaction to the cancellation of this year’s Mayne Island Fall Fair Parade, due to Covid. The Piggott Bay Crew are known locally for their elaborate contributions to the annual parade for over 50 years, beginning with a little red wagon pulling a costumed child or puppy with a bunch of followers dressed up in the fair’s theme. The Crew were forced to retire their iconic wagon a few years ago when it fell apart while towing a giant papier-mache carrot as part of the ‘Piggott Bay Farmers’ theme.
Where to Stay
Located adjacent to Bennett Bay and across the road from the ocean, the Blue Vista Resort consists of a collection of charming studio, one- and two-bedroom and duplex cottages, owned and run by the Magee-Miller family. Dog-friendly and in-suite fireplace options are available, and all of the suites include wifi and private amenities. Rates begin at $165-225 during the high season (May 21 – October 12), and reduce to $130-170 the rest of the year. Find out more.
If we had to choose just one place to stay, Mayne Island’s famed Cob Cottage would be it. However, we certainly aren’t the only ones coveting the quaint house made from local sustainable materials, furnished with vintage and locally made decor, and located on a property including an orchard, gardens and sheep. As of the time of publication there are no reservations available until October 2022 on Airbnb, or as late as April 2023 via Vrbo! The slightly lesser known (and therefore more available) Mandala Cob house, situated remotely on a working farm amid acres of land and farm animals, is equally quirky. Find out more.