Denman And Hornby Islands: Two Days By Bike

Denman and Hornby’s islands are two little islands located northwest to Vancouver Island. They share a vibrant artistic flair, organic farmer markets and relaxing outdoor activities. Denman and Hornby Islands are the perfect place to ride bicycles, have a refreshing bath and enjoy organic meals.

Easily accessible by ferry from Buckley Bay, Denman and Hornby Islands are very popular holiday destination among Vancouverites.

Usually, people cross Denman in order to reach the ferry that leads to Hornby. That is what we did, and that is why will start describing our adventure from it.


It is the smallest of the two islands and it is very well known for its sandy beaches and wonderful MTB trails. The atmosphere in Hornby island is very relaxed and intimate. The island offers different entertainments, both if you like outdoor activities and you just need some rest.


Tribune Bay Provincial Park is considered to be one of the most beautiful swimming areas in British Columbia. The park is divided in Tribune Bay and Little Tribune Bay.

Little Tribune Bay is a clothing-optional beach, significantly smaller but less crowded. Most of the swimmers are going nude but there are no restrictions if you don’t feel like getting naked. Morning Yoga sessions are available every Saturday morning at 9:00 am.


Tribune bay is easily accessible by walking through a spectacular natural gallery of sandstone hoodoos. Known as “Little Hawaii” Tribune Bay is a wide sandy beach with warm ocean water. More East from Tribune there is Whaling Station Bay. Also known as a nature lover paradise, very popular among kayakers and canoers.


Hornby Farmers Market is like a beautiful party in the woods. The sellers are a vibrant group of growers, home-backers, artisans, and painters. We loved the vibes, the live music, the great popcorns and that amazing mango on a stick. Check it out with your own eyes. The market is running every Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm. Have a look at their website for more details.


The park offers a maze of trails, more than 80 km. With mild winters, Hornby’s trails stay open year-round. The whole park is 300 hectares big and the vegetation is just stunning. Biking into the park is something not easy to describe through words, you have to try it in person. Depending on the path you choose you will ride in a different landscape. Few trailers pass along the coast, just above the sea. Some others are more inland and climb up to Mt Geoffrey, trough beautiful woods and green undergrowth. Have a look at the park website for a detailed map or download the TrailForks app for GPS maps.


Denman Island is the bigger of the two, and as well as its little sister has a lot to offer. The island is populated by a huge community of artists and artisans. For the most involved in ceramic. There are several beaches along the coast and a few lakes in the land. So it is definitely worth it to spend some time there.


Seems like everybody in Denman has a pottery studio. We had the chance to visit the boutique and the workshop of Shirley. Lilac Sun Pottery studio is a tiny space, where every cm of the walls is covered by a beautiful piece of art. Shirley is very talented and she loves to share with people her secrets and techniques. It is the perfect place to find a beautiful souvenir.


Canada is full of beautiful lakes, almost 31.800 in all the country. Chickadee lake in Denman Island is definitely one of the most beautiful lakes we have ever swim into. The water is fresh and pure, it is actually drinkable. To get to a good spot where you can comfortably lay down you have to walk a bit. A trail has been made to reach the shore, sometimes the path is a bit steep but definitely worth it. In some areas of the lake, you can do some mud bath; very nutritious for your skin and hair.


We heard about the Shack and wagon even before arriving at Denman Island and we also knew about its popularity. People suggest to call in advance to get your order, we didn’t, so we couldn’t have any food. Finding food in Denman Island can be very hard, especially after 5 pm. There is only one grocery shop that stays open until late (7 pm). Luckily the Shack ‘n wagon open also for lunch so we had our second chance to try its delicious food. The place is truly an old Chuck Wagon with nice picnic tables. Don’t miss it!

How to get to Denman and Hornby islands:
The Island is located 30 minutes south of Comox/Courtenay, and one hour drive from Nanaimo. You can catch a ferry to reach the Island from Buckley Bay, on Vancouver Island. Here you will board the ferry for the 10-12 minute scenic sail to Denman.

Where to stay in Denman and Hornby islands:
Lodging is limited on these two islands, so be sure to have a reservation in place before heading across on the ferry to spend the night.
On Hornby Island, you can find a spot on Tribune Bay Campground, which is the largest on Hornby.
On Denman, we stayed at Earth Club Factory Guesthouse, right next to the ferry.



13 Replies to “Denman And Hornby Islands: Two Days By Bike

  1. Not often do I encounter a writer who is both educated and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the issue is something that not sufficient individuals are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across your site 🙂

  2. Having spent a little bit of time on a Vancouver Island, I truly wish I’d known about these beauties! What a wonderful trip. Your aerial photos showcase the natural beauty of this area of the world perfectly. Looks like I need a trip back to the Pacific Northwest!

  3. Looks like a dream vacation! Cycling adventures through the woods, swimming in clean bays, enjoying eats from the shack and wagon, and of course, the yoga and mud-baths! The pictures of the bays are spectacular. 🙂

  4. You had me at artistic flair, farmer markets and cycling and then I looked at the photos (which could quite happily sit on the pages of Nat Geo) and I was hooked. What an amazing place and that haircut shack is something else. If only I lived nearer this would definitely be on my must-do list. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is such an epic place to visit and that sea color is unreal. I haven’t explored this part of the world and now I really want to go especially when the water looks so inviting.

  6. I’ve only been to Victoria on Vancouver Island and I’d never even heard of Denman and Hornby. But both places are beautiful (and quirkly, which I love). Thanks for all the lovely photos!

  7. I think many locals on Hornby and Denman would prefer to not have any more attention drawn to these Islands. They are already known by too many for the water and sanitary services to support Summer visitors, it can be challenging to find a camping spot and room on the Ferry. B. C. is attracting too much attention as a whole these days… real estate and camping reservations have gone nuts. We need a break. Ed

    1. Hey Ed, thanks for your comment I totally understand your point but we would rather spend time and money on educating visitors or traveler instead of closing the island to tourism. This si a common issue. Anyway you are so lucky to live in such a place.

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