Saratoga Beach On Vancouver Island, BC: A Year Round Destination You Won’t Want To Miss

As I write this, it’s almost spring, and the crocuses, daffodils, and snowdrops are already showing us their pretty colors here in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Vancouver Island is about 285 miles long, with BC’s vibrant capital city, Victoria, at the southern tip and Port Hardy at its northernmost end. American travelers are often surprised to find out that Vancouver Island is not part of and has nothing to do with Vancouver at all. 

If you divide Vancouver Island in two halves, north and south, Comox Valley is located just inside the north half. Northern Vancouver Island is where you can find the best camping and RVing experiences in the world. It has few crowds, a lot of amazing wildlife, and plenty of unpopulated beaches begging to be explored. Saratoga Beach in Black Creek is one of those beaches.

Pacific Playgrounds Marina And RV Resort

Last year, I traveled throughout Canada and four of the Midwestern states over the course of  the summer and fall. At the end of October, I decided to overwinter at Saratoga Beach. I chose the beautiful Pacific Playgrounds Marina And RV Resort at the north end of the beach. Pacific Playgrounds also happens to be dog friendly, which is an important selling feature for me because my dogs go everywhere with me. By the time I arrived, the mildest days of October were becoming sparse, and the big-leaf maples were stretching their barren limbs forlornly against somber gray skies. The immediate and warm welcome I received from the women who work in the Pacific Playgrounds office made me feel right at home. They seemed genuinely happy to help me get settled in and offered helpful advice about the area, including telling me that local stores and great hiking trails are within easy walking distance.

It’s been quiet and peaceful here since I arrived. Although we had a few storms over the winter, the many ancient fir trees in the park acted as a windbreak and provided shelter, even when winter was at its worst. I’m told that Pacific Playgrounds is abuzz with summer activity starting Victoria Day weekend (May 20 this year).

In Canada, May’s Victoria Day is the first long weekend holiday of summer. For many Canadians, the arrival of this weekend kicks off the camping season. Canadians celebrate the end of winter by getting away from it all in their RVs. That’s when resorts and provincial parks on Vancouver Island begin to fill to capacity. With that being said, the farther north you go, the quieter campgrounds and resorts get.

Up until now, I’ve really enjoyed nothing but peace and serenity at this tidy, well-run park. This place has almost everything I could ever wish for in an RV park. It offers full-hookup sites with 30-amp and 50-amp power, great Wi-Fi, a beautifully appointed laundry room, clean shower facilities, and a coffee shop. There’s even a dog shower. Pacific Playgrounds is situated close to stores; restaurants; hiking trails; and Saratoga Beach, where spoiled dogs can frolic off leash all winter and spring.

Saratoga Beach Is Perfect For Family Vacations


Saratoga Beach


Because this resort sits right on the edge of the Salish Sea, it’s drop-dead gorgeous here. This past winter, my dogs and I walked the length of dog-friendly and sandy Saratoga Beach nearly every day. The views here are phenomenal. On days when it’s not absolutely socked in with clouds, the view of the snowcapped coastal mountain range provides a majestic and serene backdrop to a sometimes calm, other times tempestuous ocean.

This place becomes much more lively in summer months. It’s still jaw-droppingly gorgeous here in the summer, and the warm weather makes this beach very popular with locals and tourists alike. Although dogs are welcome here year-round, it’s rare to see a dog off leash at Saratoga Beach after the weather warms up. There are just too many people for that. 

Beachgoers and sun worshippers flock to Saratoga Beach because of the amazing views, the laid-back vibe, and the warm temperature of the water. Saratoga Beach lies at the outside edge of a massive sandbar that stretches well into the ocean, and the sun’s rays warm the water to just the perfect temperature for swimming. The relatively shallow water and warm temperatures make Saratoga Beach a favorite place for families with young children. Not only is the water clean and perfect for swimming, but the sand here is perfect for sculpting sandcastles. 

Saratoga Beach is easy to get to. It’s situated just 16 miles north of Courtenay, BC, and 16 miles south of the city of Campbell River, BC, and is close to stunning Miracle Beach Provincial Park Campground, many small resorts, and several RV parks. It’s a simple route to this little piece of heaven on Earth (via Highway 19) once you’re on Vancouver Island. Oh, by the way, you can get to Vancouver Island via either BC Ferries from Canada or Black Ball Ferry Line from the U.S. 

Tips For Traveling On BC Ferries


Saratoga Beach


If you’re bringing an RV on BC Ferries, it’s good to know a few things before you leave home.

  • Reserve online ahead of time: Reservations are often the only way to avoid lineups and multi-sailing wait times on BC Ferries. For me it’s always well worth the additional cost of the reservation.
  • Check the BC Ferries schedule for discounted sailings before you reserve. BC Ferries also has discounts for overheight vehicles in spring and summer. Sometimes you can save a lot of money by doing this.
  • Fuel is expensive in Canada, but it costs less to fill up on Vancouver Island than on the mainland.

A few BC Ferries sailings now allow you to bring your dog upstairs. This is worth checking out before you reserve your sailing.

Lynne is a freelance writer and dog trainer who lives, works, and travels throughout Canada and the US full-time in her RV with her 2 dogs, Jolene and Annabelle.  Lynne fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living in 2019, hit the road, and never looked back.  Want to see what she’s up to? You’ll find her blog at  Lynne has written about all aspects of the RV lifestyle for many magazines which you’ll find on her author’s portfolio website at: www.lynne As a professional dog trainer at Go Dog Go! Dog Training, Lynne offers both in person and virtual dog training services. She’s a regular contributor on all things related to dog training and behaviour for Animal Wellness Magazine and Canadian Dogs Magazine.

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