Mayne Island is full of treasures and beauty around every corner. Part of the Southern Gulf Islands, Mayne is on the smaller side of all the islands, but it is BIG on charm and beauty. They say the deer population outnumbers the residents on this island, and after spotting numerous deer around each and every bend in the road, I would say this is a fair assumption! The people on Mayne are some of the loveliest, friendliest, and kindest people I've ever met. Time seemed to stop when we arrived. The days were joyfully slow and peaceful. From the moment we stepped off the ferry and drove to our campsite, we were in awe of this magical place. A big thanks to my dear friend Hilary, who joined me on this trip! My sweet accountant husband stayed at home, in the thick of tax season, while we enjoyed this lovely adventure.
Our first night was spent at Mayne Island Camping. This campground is the only one on the island, and features 10 breathtaking walk-in campsites in a forest overlooking the ocean and Seal Beach (where we saw up to 40 seals at one time, right below our campsite!). It has the most gorgeous driveway and network of trails, which we were eager to explore after combing the beach for treasures.
The campground also has an incredible treehouse shower for its guests. This feature was something that really stood out to me about the campground. Who wouldn't want to have a nice, hot shower in a forest looking out at the ocean?
Since the campground was overlooking a beautiful cove full of seals and sea otters, we took advantage of the kayak we brought along and explored the cove in the late afternoon sunshine. We continued to wander the trails around the campground and found a nice spot to sit down and watch the sunset while making ourselves some dinner.
Soon it was morning. We woke up to the sound of rain on our tent and packed up our gear before grabbing breakfast at the local Bakery/Cafe, Sunny Mayne Bakery. We sat outside next to a group of older men as they met for their daily coffee and chatted about real estate, politics, and a few jokes. These men are a fixture on this island and are known for meeting at the bakery for coffee together, even when the power is out. This moment of small town charm really brightened my day!
It was time for our next destination, and I would be lying if I told you I wasn't dying with excitement. I had found this dreamy cob cottage on Glamping Hub a few weeks prior and nearly died from it's charm. When the hosts told me there were also sheep on the property, and that we would have a jar of treats to feed them, I practically exploded with joy. When we arrived at the property, everything about the experience exceeded our expectations. Our host family was incredibly friendly and eagerly shared recommendations for places to explore on the island. We were left fresh eggs from their chickens, apple juice from their orchard, and even a still-warm loaf of banana bread. The sheep and chickens were eager for our treats, and we instantly fell in love with the black lamb who followed us around and loved hanging his head rubbed.
Chatting with our host, Alexis, was just as mesmerizing as the cob cottage. She really went the extra mile to care for us and share the magic of the island. Every local I met on Mayne was just full of incredible stories to tell. I wish I could have sat down and listened to them for hours on end. The islands seem to draw the most special of people to them.
Cob homes are a fascinating thing. Made from straw and claw and a lot of stomping, these homes are hand-formed with a lot of love. This cob cottage comes with a few books on the topic of cob, if you're interested in learning more during your stay! We were enamoured with the walk in shower, spindly wood staircase, and overall charm of this cottage. Alexis, our host, has put a lot of love and care into decorating this place! It truly felt like a cozy, warm, welcoming home. I spent a lot of time in the sunny breakfast nook, overlooking the sheep grazing out the kitchen window.
Here is a little tour of the details of this home (and of course, some more sheep)! If you would like to book this cottage, you can find the listing by clicking HERE.
Our hosts had recommended we take a trip over to another sheep farmer's home, Meadowmist Farms. Joyce is an 80 year-old sheep farmer who has been running her own sheep farm by herself for over 30 years! It all started with a plot of land and a trailer. She has goats, chickens, and quite a few sheep. She makes her own soap and also has her wool turned into yarn and socks (and I definitely couldn't leave without buying some myself!). Joyce is an inspiring woman who cracked many jokes with us and she showed us around her farm. The wooden structures on the property were made from trees that were logged on the farm. I was just in awe of this incredible woman and the life she had created for herself. This strong woman is more active and hardworking than most people my age! If you call ahead, you can schedule your own tour at Meadowmist Farms. Make sure you sign the guest book, and tell her Rachel sent you!
As we were leaving Joyce's farm, I was delighted to meet a donkey and miniature horse on the side of the road. I got out of my car to take a photo, and they both eagerly ran towards the fence for some snuggles (and maybe an apple slice or two!).
Next we took off to explore a secret network of trails that is popular amongst the locals. To honour this secret that was passed on to me by the locals of this island, I will not be mentioning it by name here, but perhaps if you befriend a local, they might just share it with you as well. This network of trails is on private property, but the owner is gracious enough to allow the trails to be used by the people of this island, at their own risk. This island is full of sweet and selfless people like this. It is truly a special place. We explored the seaside trails and enjoyed spotting a few pairs of sea lions as they swam along the shoreline. We then made our way over to Georgina Point Lighthouse Park to watch the sunset. I was extremely excited to spot a few Highland Cows on our drive home. These long-haired cows have long been on my list to see in person, I just never expected to find them on a Southern Gulf Island!
We arrived back at the cottage for the evening and built a fire in the woodstove, ate chilli and s'mores, and took in the gorgeous starry sky. One of the best parts about leaving the city behind is how many stars you can see at night.
The next morning, we sadly packed up and said goodbye to our little home. We set out to climb Mount Park, which is the highest point on Mayne Island and offers views of the other Gulf Islands and beyond. The hike is fairly short, though it definitely gets the blood pumping. There are quite a few side trails to distract you, so make sure you snap a picture of the map at the trailhead so you don't get lost. We were captivated by the beautiful Arbutus trees throughout these trails, especially the Giant Arbutus that is just a few steps off the main pathway.
After our hike, we spent some time in Horton Bay. We sat on the beach and had a picnic before exploring the ocean via kayak once again. Across the bay from the beach is a small, private island called Curlew Island, which has a large peacock and sheep population roaming around. We were entertained by the various Peacock calls coming from the island while we ate our lunch.
While exploring in my kayak, I managed to find some colour coordinating starfish clinging to the cliffs along the shore.
We had some time to kill before our ferry, so we aimlessly drove around and gawked at all the beautiful cottages and cabins throughout the island. We suddenly saw signs for the Japanese Garden, and found ourselves walking amongst the most gorgeous blooms. We certainly picked the right time of year to be on Mayne- the cherry blossoms were at their peak! Once we had smelled each tree and bush, we hopped on our ferry and enjoyed a sunny ride back to the mainland.