St. John Point (Helliwell Park) - Hornby Island, British Columbia

The entry point.  Flora is enticingly close. Access: Shore dive.

Location: Hornby Island is located off the East coast of Vancouver Island between Parksville and Courtenay. St. John Point is the southeast tip of the island and is part of Helliwell Park. To get there, take the ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island, drive across Denman and take another ferry to Hornby Island. Drive across the island from the ferry terminal to the Co-op and turn left at the four-way stop. Turn right at the big tree, pass Whaling Station Bay and enter the parking lot at Helliwell Park. From the parking lot it is a forty minute hike with your gear to the point. Keep to the left when you get to the fork in the trail and keep to the trail until you get to the point itself, which is a grassy area with a good view of Flora Islet.

What you'll find: If you can manage a forty minute hike with all your gear then St. John Point is well worth the effort. There are things here that you won't see at the other snorkel sites on the island, including some very large lingcod and kelp greenling. You will also find schools of piling and striped perch, sea urchins, ochre stars, and leather stars. The large conglomerate and sandstone boulders also make for some very interesting topography.

During the summer the surface layers can get quite warm. If it gets warm enough the top plankton layer will burn away, resulting in good visibility on the surface with poor visibility at depth. With the right (or wrong!) wind the top warm layer will be blown away, resulting in cold, clear water to dive in. The point is usually well protected from wind.

Lingcod Male kelp greenling
Lingcod Male kelp greenling
Urchins and starfish  
Urchins and starfish  

Hazards: South winds can make the water very rough. There is a lot of boat traffic in the area. You should be safe from power boats if you stay close to shore but there are still lots of kayaks around and you won't hear them coming.

Submitted by Tom Lightfoot.


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Updated 21 August 2002
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