Just a 40-minute drive from Vancouver, Porteau Cove Provincial Park boasts remarkable oceanfront camping and stargazing. It’s also a popular favourite among divers.
Camping at Porteau Cove Park
Given its proximity to ~2.5 million people in Greater Vancouver, Porteau Cove Park is very busy—especially during peak season. The park features 44 vehicle-accessible sites (5 double sites; 2 pull-through) that are somewhat closely spaced. Many of these are waterfront campsites.
16 walk-in campsites are within 5 minutes of the parking lot. Most of these are small, ocean-front sites. As such, no more than 4 people can occupy any one of these sites at a time. 2 Olympic Legacy Cabins (max. 4 people per cabin) are available for rent but are commonly sold out.
There’s also a day-use area with picnic sites and a grassy area near the shore. A mooring float at the park’s south end allows water access to the park. Porteau Cove Park remains open year-round; however, in the winter months services (and fees) are reduced.
The campground has electrical hookups. Cold water can be found in the campground and day-use area. An outdoor shower is available, as are flush and pit toilets. Although it may be shut off due to weather conditions, the park also has a year-round sani-station/dump.
This park doesn’t have dedicated sites for those with disabilities. That said, the light gravel found in these sites does accommodate wheelchairs.
There are 2 double-wide boat launches in the park. BC Ferries maintains an emergency pier on-site, in case of obstruction on the adjacent highway. Mostly, this provides a sightseeing opportunity for park visitors.
Firewood is available for sale on the grounds, or you can bring your own. Just be sure to keep your campfire within your designated fire ring. You can also rent a portable propane campfire from park attendants.
Activities at Porteau Cove Park
Porteau Cove Provincial Park is most renowned for its scuba diving (more on that in a moment). Other water-based activities at the park include swimming, paddling (canoeing and kayaking), windsurfing, and boating. You can also fish in the area (outside the park’s boundary), however, you must hold a licence and adhere to the park’s fishing regulations.
On dry land, you can walk the park’s short trail (~300m) and take in the view from the pier. Or, you might ride your bike on the park’s paths and trails (no e-Bikes on trails). Many stop for a picnic in the park. There are also many other outdoor sports and recreation activities to be within driving distance.
Location, geography, and history
You’ll find Porteau Cove Provincial Park on the eastern shore of Howe Sound. This park is accessed via the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a short ~44 kilometers from the city of Vancouver. Other notable communities in the region include Brackendale, Britannia Beach, Lions Bay, Squamish, and Whistler.
Situated on one of North America’s most southerly fjords, Porteau Cove Provincial Park measures 56 hectares. The park is found the land of indigenous inhabitants: the Squamish people. BC Parks is undertaking efforts to better reflect this population’s culture, history, and connection to this place.
Porteau Cove translates from French to “Water’s Gate”. The name dates back to 1908, At that time, John Deeks started to mine gravel and sand for use in Vancouver. A community of employees lived in the area, which necessitated housing, a school, and a ferry service. The park was established in the summer of 1981.
Features, wildlife, and vegetation
Porteau Cove Park is one of the easiest to access marine-oriented parks in British Columbia. Its gently-sloped beaches are made up of pebble, rock, and sand. These make for nice for ocean swimming. (On low-tide summer days, this water can get quite warm.)
Divers flock to Porteau Cove for the diversity of marine life attracted to the area’s constructed reefs. These artificial reefs are made up of tire chains, concrete piles and blocks, steel beams, and 2 sunken vessels. These waters reach depths of 6 – 18 meters (20' – 60').
Many animals and plants can be found on the shore and underwater. During your stay, you might spot harbour seals/porpoises, marine waterfowl, or river otters. Between spring and fall, orcas and whales (gray and humpback) are seen in these waters.
The park’s mixed forest cover is comprised of Sitka Spruce trees and Stunted Shore Pine trees. Coyotes, mink, and some raccoons are also found in this area.
Risks, cautions, and notes
Take care in and on the water. The Howe Sound sees changing tides and strong winds (inflow and outflow). There are no lifeguards on duty. Although Porteau Cove is close to Vancouver, it still sees bears, cougars, and wolves. Be prepared and take adequate measures to avoid risk.
Porteau Cove is a sensitive environment that’s visited by many people. This makes it essential that you leave no trace. Do not handle or collect marine life within the park’s boundary. Do not gather or burn driftwood (no beach fires). Avoid stepping off trails, in order to prevent damage to plants and soil. Read park signs and obey the rules. Use biodegradable soap. Be sure to keep your pets leashed and away from the beach—where they are not permitted.
Also: This park is noisy at times. It’s adjacent to a highway and active train tracks. Prepare for an early wake-up call—that’ll rattle your bones—when the train passes by. 😳
This part of British Columbia is breathtakingly beautiful, so, plan to spend a little extra time in the region. Drive the winding Sea-to-Sky Highway and stop at viewpoints to take in the dramatic vistas that span the ocean and towering mountains.
You might consider taking in the Britannia Mine Museum (a short 10-minute drive from the park). Also, check the park’s gatehouse for schedules and information on events and interpretive demonstrations.
Information about Porteau Cove
Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Highway 99, Squamish, BC V0N
Porteau Cove Marine Park is situated on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. From Vancouver, travel north on Highway 99) for approximately 38 km. At this point you’ll see signs for Porteau Cove Campground. Turn left to leave the highway and enter the park. Once in the park take a right followed by another right, to access the campground area.
1 m (3 ft)
Up to 4 months in advance of arrival date
1-800-689-9025 (between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.); $5 surcharge applies
Number of sites
Pets are allowed but must be on a leash at all times
Permitted in designated fire rings (fire bans may apply); no beach fires
Max. site occupants
Vehicles per site
Maximum vehicle length
Varies based on site (the longest pad is 60')
Small crushed gravel
Picnic table, fire ring, some sites with electric hook-ups
Number of accessible sites
None specifically designated
None specifically designated
Sani-dump station (can close due to freezing temperatures)
13, 17, 18/19, 21, 22, 23, 32, 36, 41/42
ARE Porteau Cove Provincial Park campsites SOLD OUT?
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Contact Porteau Cove Provincial Park
- BC Parks
- Booking site: https://camping.bcparks.ca
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40 minutes from home but a world away!
This park is very close to our home and an easy drive, especially with gas prices so high. Once we are set up it feels like we’re a world away from everything. There are great beach walks that are made very interesting at low tide. There is a lot of wild life to watch on the water and if you are very lucky, you may see a whale. Sea lions and seals are abundant at certain times of year and the birds are everywhere. If you paddle board or Kayak there is lots of ocean to explore, just watch the winds. You can also drive 30 minutes to explore Squamish and all it has to offer. The best part of the day is sunset. This park does sunsets better than most from all of the sites. Nothing better to help you forget the city that is only 40 minutes away
Great park within 20 mins Downtown Vancouver
All sites are close to water.
Our Favorite Spot
This spot is our favorite for many reasons, but mostly for the ocean-side camping. The kids are out on the shore every day looking for crabs and sea-side treasures. We also saw a pod of killer whales this time which is such a rare treat.
The facilities at Porteau Cove are always immaculate. There was a brief storm while we were there this past weekend which left some debris, and the next day the driveways were being cleared and everything looked lovely again shortly after.
There's nothing like the fresh salt air to clear the air and open up your creative brain! After the trip, we left reconnected and refreshed as a family.
Ocean front paradise
my two sons, aged three and six, accompanied my husband, and I for two nights at Porteau Cove last month. We had the absolute best time with full access to the ocean for a morning dip or paddle. We had a stunning sunset view at night and absolutely loved our spot.
It’s also incredibly close to the city so our commute was less than an hour from Yaletown. Five stars for sure!
Excellent leisure time!
The views are mesmerizing especially in the morning! Comfortably organized facilities with showers, great to go there with your kids.
Got a last minute notification from Campnab and were able to secure a booking at Site#17. It was a great spot with direct access to Howe Sound shoreline. We had a good time camping there and would highly recommend it!
We heard rave reviews from some many about this park. The scenery of the ocean is gorgeous. The beach is very rocky and sea lions very active in April. We didn’t have one train all weekend so that was nice. The campsites are on the smaller side and very limited privacy. Very exposed on all sides. There’s hook ups which is nice. The bathrooms were clean.
The absolute best Provincial campsite in the lower mainland. Open all year round. Close to Vancouver.
Year round beauty
We love our family trips to porteau. A beautiful spot, Oceanside sites, a field for the kids to play. With nearby hikes and the ocean outside your trailer/tent, it’s such a close to the city gem. Hard to snag spots but with Campnab, it’s doable.
Best campsite we ever had.
If you get one of the sites on the water, the view will blow you away . Porteau Cove would be virtually impossible to get without Campnab, as it is a relatively small campground.
The mullet of parks: Beauty in the front, noisy at the back
It’s hard to believe that a park as beautiful as Porteau Cove is so close to the city. On a good day, you can be from downtown to the park in a little over a half-hour.
The views at Porteau Cove are breathtaking. Many campsites are right on the water, allowing you to enjoy your coffee while peering out over Howe Sound and Anvil Island. If you like to stargaze, this is a nice spot for it.
Given Porteau Cove’s proximity to Vancouver—and the limited number of campsites—the campground can be hard to get into. On weekends it can get crowded, even thought we spotted many unused (but reserved) sites on the weekdays.
The campsite we stayed in at Porteau Cove was right on the water, which was wonderful. That said, the park road was right behind us. Adjacent to that is the rail line, and a construction zone. A little further back is the Sea-to-Sky Highway. As such, it got pretty noisy at times.
These two aspects of Porteau Cove leave me a bit mixed. The noise and crowds are substantial and I was happy when our stay there came to an end. On the other hand, I feel a bit guilty for saying this, as this setting is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced.
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