Marked as one of Vancouver Island’s premier vacation destinations, Rathtrevor is definitely one of Parksville’s best parks. This 347-hectare beachfront property has majestic old-growth trees, beautiful ocean views, and a wide sandy beach that recedes almost a kilometre at low tide.
A Bit of History
The name Rathtrevor comes from an Irish family who settled in the area in 1886. William Rath, a gold prospector and pioneer, cleared the land and built a log cabin and eventually a barn to create their homestead.
William died in 1903, leaving his wife, Elizabeth, and five children the farm.
Elizabeth proved to be an industrious person, successfully running the farm and eventually operating it as a campground. For lyrical effect, the suffix “trevor” was added to the name.
In 1967, Rathtrevor Campground became Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. And although much has changed over the years, the beauty and importance of the area will be forever preserved.
Camping at Rathtrevor
This beautiful campground has 250 vehicle accessible campsites, 25 walk-in tent sites and 6 group sites. The majority of the sites are located among large Douglas fir trees, providing some level of privacy between sites.
All campsites are within a 5-minute walk to the 2 km stretch of sandy beach.
Please note, these are all non-serviced sites! (No electricity nor sewer hook-ups). You must be fully contained to RV here.
The park does feature a large day-use area, a nature house, 4 hot shower buildings, 2 flush bathrooms, pit toilets, and a sani-station (with a $5.00 fee). All campsites, shower stalls, flush toilets, beach access, and the many walking trails and parking stalls in the day-use area are all wheelchair-accessible.
The campground is open year-round, and full fees for both the drive-in and walk-in campsites are collected from mid-March until the end of October. Reservations are mandatory between the last week of June and Labour Day. A reduced winter fee is charged due to limited facilities and services available. Campers wishing to use the park between November 1 and the beginning of March must be completely self-sufficient.
Here is a link to BC Park’s online reservation system: Discover Camping
Things to See and Do
Bird watching is a popular activity at this park, especially in the spring when large numbers of seabirds congregate for the annual herring spawn. During February, March and April, Rathtrevor Beach is also one of the best spots on the Island to view Brant geese who use the area for staging and feeding during their spring migration.
Several other wildlife species can be found in the park too. This includes deer, raccoons, squirrels, otters, mink, eagles, osprey, hawks, vultures, owls, and tons of rabbits.
When the tide rolls out, what’s left is nearly one km of beautiful sand to stroll along and/or play in. Alternatively, when the tide rolls back over the sun-baked sand, it creates an unbeatable warm water swim.
Rathtrevor is a popular beach to seek out sand dollars. While I recommend leaving all beach finds on the beach, if you must take a treasure home, please leave the black sand dollars in place, as they are still alive!
This is also a great beach to watch sunsets!
The park offers 5.5 kms of easy walking trails.
The Rathtrevor Beach Path is a 4.3-kilometre level out and back trail. Or, you can make a full 3.5 km circle route by walking back through the campground. Dogs are able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash. As this trail is completely flat, it’s perfect for strollers, bikes and wheelchairs.
Another great trail is one that loops from just before the main parking lot around a pretty heritage farm field. Detailed trail maps are posted at information shelters in the park.
There are several trails within the campground that lead down to the day-use beach areas of the park. Please note: Pets are not permitted in the day-use beach area.
There are three playgrounds at this park.
A large adventure playground can be found at the day-use area; a small one near campsite 149; and another large one with a bike track near campsite 75.
During the summer, an open-air amphitheatre and nature house are used for interpretative park programs.
Location of Rathtrevor Park
Rathtrevor Park is conveniently located off of Highway 19. Take exit 51 from the Inland Island Highway (Hwy 19) and follow signs to the park. The official address is 1240 Rath Road.
Things to Do Nearby
Parksville and its surrounding areas have plenty to keep one busy. Here are a few of our favourite things to do within a short distance from Rathtrevor Park.
- Mini Golf – right outside the Provincial Park gates you’ll find Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf.
- A short walk from the gates, you’ll find the Black Goose Inn. A beautiful British pub-style restaurant in a historic 1921 Samuel Maclure House.
- Parksville Museum – a short 5-minute drive or approximate 1/2 hour walk from Rathtrevor
- Brigadoon Golf Course – a 9 hole course that is perfect for families.
- Spa day at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa and Resort
If camping isn’t your thing, you are in luck! There are plenty of accommodations either on or very close to Rathtrevor beach!
You can check them out here: Parksville Accommodations. Just make sure you look for the ones that specifically mention Rathtrevor Beach (not Parksville Beach, which is located further along the highway in the heart of Parksville).
Save this article for future use by pinning this image on Pinterest.