A to Z West Coast TrailOwen Point, at about the 67km mark on the West Coast Trail is home to a stunningly colourful and well hidden area of sandstone caves carved out by the ocean. Centuries of crashing waves have gouged out huge, circular openings in the cliffs jutting out into the ocean. If the tide is low enough you can walk through a gap in the rock face and walk in behind one of the huge openings, like a giant window to the Pacific Ocean.

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAlaskan at 4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSoquel at 5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSarah at 7k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailBecherdass-Ambiadass at 8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailMichigan at 12k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUzbekistan at 13.8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVarsity at 17.6k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailValencia at 18.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJanet Cowan at 19k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRobert Lewers at 20k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWoodside at 20.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUncle John at 26.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVesta at 29k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRaita at 33k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSkagit at 34.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSanta Rita at 37k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDare at 39k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailLizzie Marshall at 47k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailPuritan at 48.5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWempe Brothers at 49.4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDuchess of Argyle at 58k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJohn Marshall at 62.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWilliam Tell at 64.2 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRevere at 69k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailCyrus at 75k

West Coast Trail Campsites

Pachena Bay Campground West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14k West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48k West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62k Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70k Pacheedaht Campground

If you manage to get to Owen Point in the afternoon or evening on a sunny day you might be in for a wonderful light show. At just the right angle, the sun lights up the brilliantly vivid colours of the ocean carved rock all around you. Hundreds of shades of green and yellow light up the little world hidden behind and under these stunning caves. The cave narrows and backs against a vertical cliff of more erosion resistant igneous rock. Despite the seemingly solid, jagged rock wall behind you, the rainforest can be seen emerging from every crack in the rock. With your back against the cold rock face you look out at the layers of colour rising up to the ceiling of the cave lit up by the blinding reflection of sunlight off the ocean underneath. Looking up you suddenly realize that the ceiling of the cave you are looking at was the bridge you just crossed before descending down to the beach and entering this amazing place. The array of colours are a combination of layers of sandstone and a green slime that thinly covers the smooth rock. Though you are standing back from the actual cave while inside this beautiful little place, the forest above has grown over to block much of the sky above. This adds to the magical serenity of this beautiful place which glows all around you and above you is almost solid forest, lit up bright neon green by sunlight.

Owen Point Colorful Caves

Owen Point West Coast Trail Map

WCT Map IconOwen Point juts out into the ocean marking the entrance to Port San Juan which leads to the town Port Renfrew and the start or finish of the West Coast Trail. Owen Island is just a few metres offshore from Owen Point and is not much of an island. More of a reef with its flat top barely rising out of the water. If you are hiking from the Thrasher cove direction along the beach you will encounter the Owen Point caves when you see a narrow opening in the cliffs at the end of the beach. You can walk through the gap and enter this cool little world full of colours and peer through the wide cave at the beautiful ocean. On a sunny day the walls of the cave practically glow with the neon green slime coating the rock. When you back out of the cave, you will see a faint trail at the waters edge climb up on top of the cave, this is the route across the top of the cave.

Owen Point Map v2

The Name Origin of Owen Point

History IconThere doesn't seem to be any easy to find information on the naming of Owen Point or Owen Island which is located just a few metres beyond Owen Point. It is very likely that Owen Point and Owen Island are named after the Chief Officer of the SS Quadra, W.G. Owen. The Quadra was the only ship that patrolled the coastline in this area until 1908 when she was finally joined by additional vessels. She served as a rescue ship, supply ship, a fisheries patrol vessel and quite a lot more. With few lighthouses in service in those days, Quadra was usually the only ship available to take care of the whole west coast of Vancouver Island. In the years after after 1908 it was usual to have five lighthouse tenders patrolling the same region Quadra covered on her own for years. Captain John T. Walbran commanded the Quadra and of course Walbran Creek on the West Coast Trail is named after him. As Owen Point and Owen Island mark one side of the entrance to Port San Juan, it seems likely that this significant feature, with no known name would have been named by and after one of the crew of the Quadra.

Lifeboat Tender SS Quadra

Lighthouse Tender SS Quadra Shipwreck 1917

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailThe lighthouse tender SS Quadra had quite an eventful history as a rescue and supply ship that came to a sudden end in 1917. In the entrance of Nanaimo Harbour in dense fog she was hit by the SS Charmer.  Charmer collided directly into her broadside and ripped a huge gash into the side of the Quadra. With Quadra sinking fast, the captain of the Charmer quickly realized that her only hope was to be beached on the nearby shore. The SS Charmer then rammed the Quadra until she reached a shallow part of the harbour and was saved from disappearing under the waves and the crew could safely escape and much of the ships valuables could be recovered. The SS Charmer escaped the incident with comparatively little ship damage.

Lighthouse Tender SS Quadra Shipwreck 1917

SS Quadra Shipwreck Recovered in 1920

The Quadra shipwreck remained in Nanaimo Harbour for just three years before she was refloated and repaired. She then was used as a rum runner during the United States prohibition in the 1920's. She ran booze from Canada to the US for years before being apprehended by the US authorities and sold for scrap.

Quadra Shipwreck Nanaimo Harbour 1920

The Amazing Owen Point Caves

Arriving at Owen Point from the north is pretty impressive as the caves are stumbled upon quite unexpectedly. Hiking along the rocky coast along the jagged shelf that barely rises above the water, you come to a tiny, mysterious looking beach exit to the forest. You only notice it by the thin, old rope dangling down a slope and disappearing into the forest beside a tree with a couple old floats hanging from it. These beach exits on the West Coast Trail are common of course, but this one is very different. It is steep, narrow and looks hardly used, so you start to think that it is a side trail to a viewpoint or something.

Mysterious Route to Owen Point

Into the deep rainforest you start to wonder where you are going as the overgrown and bendy route takes you deep into the dark forest completely blocking out the ocean you have been walking along for the last hour. Suddenly the ocean reappears as the narrow trail descends down toward the ocean.

Rainforest at Owen Point

You catch site of the hostile, rocky reef with a weirdly idyllic little island in the middle with a few hardy trees huddled together like survivors of a shipwreck. Is it rare that you find a ship friendly beach along the West Coast Trail and the Graveyard of the Pacific. Jagged reefs line the coast of much of Vancouver Island and countless ships over the centuries collided onto these reefs and pounded into pieces by huge beakers.

Idyllic Island Owen Point

Arriving Above the Owen Point Cave

The thin trail descends quickly down to another rock shelf very different than the jagged one you've gotten used to. This rock shelf is clay like and smooth, sloping up from the swirling ocean several metres below. The rock shelf narrows and you look over the edge to see the ocean a few metres below swirling down the disappearing cliff. A few metres on and you begin descending down the smooth sandstone toward a sandy beach that has just come into view. It is only then that you realize that you have not just passed over a cliff, but a sea cave, the Owen Point sea cave.

Owen Point Sea Caves Outside

 The smooth sandstone cliff slopes down toward the hidden little beach that lays outside the narrow, gap entrance to the Owen Point cave.

Owen Point Sea Caves

A couple very old and thin old buoy ropes help you rappel down to Owen Beach. Rappel is an exaggeration, but they do help a lot, especially after rain when the green slimy slope is slippery. The wonderful shape of Owen Point is interesting. The relentless tide has eroded the sides so they are rounded, making it look like the bow of a ship jutting into the ocean.

Slippery Slope to Owen Beach

Charmingly Beautiful Owen Point Beach

On a sunny day the little Owen Point beach is spectacular. Directly ahead is the Port of San Juan, the ocean channel that leads to Port Renfrew. Botanical Beach is just beyond in the distance to the far right of the picture. The smooth, green slope on the right is the route down to the beach from Owen Point where you just crossed over the Owen Point cave. All around you is the bright green glow from sunlight reflecting off the rock and rainforest behind and above you. Though the sunny day in May is only 17c, this protected oasis feels much warmer. The West Coast Trail has countless hidden corners of paradise like this. On first glance they are a far cry from the perfect white sandy beaches of Hawaii, but they have a different kind of captivating beauty about them. Maybe it is the messy, randomness about them. Rocky reefs and boulders jutting out of the ocean. An explosion of rainforest at your back arching above your head. And the constant curiosity you get while hiking along the West Coast Trail, when you never quite know what hides around the next bend in the beach or trail. When you are constantly surprised by one new beach radically different than the last, you can't help but be caught off guard and captivated by the hostile beauty of your newly discovered little corner of paradise.

Beautiful Owen Point Beach

The gap in the cliffs leading into, or rather behind the Owen Point sea cave. By the looks of it, the cliffs are constantly eroding and making this area bigger and hopefully even more impressive.

Owen Point Cave Entrance

Cave View of Owen Island

Through the narrow gap you get your first view from the inside of the cave. Dark and rounded smooth sandstone gives off a greenish glow from the neon slime the coats some of the walls. You get the ominous feeling that you are inside a whale, looking out of its enormous mouth. Looking down the water flows calmly in and out, crashing lightly over the half submerged little reef at the opening of the cave. A couple hundred metres beyond you see the smooth, lifeless table top of Owen Island.

Owen Point Sea Cave and Owen Island

Looking out to the open ocean the cave has the feel of a pirate movie or shipwreck saga. When someone eventually makes a movie about the Valencia shipwreck, which seems inevitable as the events were extraordinary, this place would be a wonderful setting for a lifeboat coming ashore. There was a story told by some locals in the years after the Valencia shipwreck of finding a lifeboat full of skeletons in a cave near the wreck. Michael Neitzel, author of The Final Voyage of the Valencia is currently in the process of making a documentary about the Valencia.

Owen Point Cave West Coast Trail

 As you back up to the end of the cave it arches over your head and you get an impressive look at the beautiful curves in the rock carved out by the ocean.

Owen Point Cave West Coast Trail

It is amazing to see the rainforest pouring out of every crevasse and angle of the rock. The smooth rock that is plant free is polished by the ocean, far inside hidden from the sun.

Brilliantly Bright Owen Point Cave

Rainforest Concealed Owen Point Cave

Looking back at Owen Point and the big Owen Point cave you just emerged from, you find it completely hidden by the rainforest spilling over the cliffs. The shadowy gap nearest the rocky slope in the left side of the picture below is where the cave hides.

Owen Point Caves Outside

Campsites Near Owen Point

Owen Point is 5km from Camper Creek at 62km

6 West Coast Trail RatingCamper Creek is very nice with towering cliffs on either side of the campsite and the clear water of Camper Creek flowing through. The only negative about Camper Creek is that it is often crowded with campers and you tend to get tents lined up along the treeline. On the plus side, it is a very social atmosphere and the surroundings are quite beautiful. Finding a campsite with a river or creek running through it is always a great bonus. Camper Creek is the first really good campsite from the Port Renfrew(Gordon River trailhead) direction. Still, it's spacious and well laid out with the creek cutting along the edge and around to the ocean. Another little negative about Camper Creek is the proximity of Port Renfrew.  It's hard to get the wilderness feeling when you can see boats pass by every minute and cruise ships in the distance. Camper Bay is often home to quite a number of campers. You always find the campsite lined with tents along the treeline packed so close together as to hear each others conversations. A bit too cozy, but on the other hand, Camper Bay is a great place to socialize with fellow campers. The linear tent site arrangement make it necessary for you and others to walk past several tents to do almost anything. So you get fairly well acquainted with your fellow West Coast Trail hikers. The trail from Camper Bay in both directions is pretty brutal with ladders and erratic terrain, so you and your fellow campers with be exhausted. Cullite Cove is a wonderful campsite on the West Coast Trail at the 58 kilometre mark. One of the nicest campsites you will find on the West Coast Trail. It has everything, a lovely wooded area with clearings for tents and campfires. Stunning views all around. A terrific, rocky beach, beautifully hemmed in by beautiful cliffs on either side. Cullite Creek pours into the cove, making for a stunning, albeit freezing swim into the surf. The campsite here is often very quiet as everybody seems to camp at Camper Creek just 4 kilometres away and doesn't even drop down the short detour off the main trail to Cullite Cove.

Camper Bay Campsite Map v7

Camper Bay campsite continued here...

Owen Point is 3km from Thrasher Cove at 70km

4 West Coast Trail RatingThrasher Cove at the 70km mark of the trail has a lot of good aspects as well as some bad. In terms of good, the beach is very pretty and quite interesting. Not a broad and long beach, the beach at Thrasher is quite varied with rock outcrops and constant bends. You can easily keep yourself amused by wandering down the beach, poking your head around every new corner. Back at the campsite, the beach tent sites are backed by an alarmingly abrupt ascent to the main trail. The outhouses at Thrasher Cove are perched up in the trees above the beach and looking around, you feel the embrace of the trees all around giving just narrow glimpses of the ocean. As for bad, Thrasher Cove is generally crowded with fellow campers, and you may find yourselves elbow to elbow with a dozen or more tents in an increasingly confined area. The problem, of course is the narrow beach and abrupt cliff at your back. This does, however, give you a wonderful feeling of how the West Coast Trail truly is. Wild rainforest behind you with ladders attached to the steep terrain and a beautiful ocean in front of you. The biggest negative about Thrasher Cove is the lack of a nice, flowing river or creek. There is a small creek nearby, but often flows at a trickle. The next campsite if you are headed north, having just started the trail is Camper Creek, which has a great big, crystal clear creek bending around the campsite.

Thrasher Cove Campsite Map v7

Thrasher Cove campsite continued here...

There are quite a few books about West Coast Trail shipwrecks, though many of them are tough to find and written decades ago. Here is a list of the ones we have found with the best information on the often scarce history of many of the lesser known shipwrecks ...
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David Logan is one of the main characters on the origin and history of the West Coast Trail. Shortly after the West Coast Telegraph Line was constructed in 1889 to link the lighthouses at Carmanah Point and Cape Beale to Victoria, he was hired as a lineman to ...
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Along the West Coast Trail you encounter countless deadfall around, over and along the trail. Deadfall is the name for dead and fallen trees and in a West Coast rainforest you see some magnificent examples. The West Coast Trail runs down the stormy coast of ...
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Day 5 on the West Coast Trail is a stunning, very difficult and tremendously enjoyable day of hiking. Walbran Creek is gorgeous campsite to wake up to. Your tent will open up to a sweeping view of ...
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The second, or second to last campsite on the West Coast Trail is at Darling River. Located just 1.6 kilometres(1 mile) from Michigan Creek, the Darling River campsite has an alright, sandy beach and a truly wonderful waterfall. Darling Falls pour into a ...
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Just a kilometre past the Darling River campsite you will come to another beach campsite at Orange Juice Creek. Orange Juice Creek is not terribly pretty and gets its name from the intensely, orange juice coloured water that crashes through a tangled morass of ...
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The campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. First if you begin your hike at the Pachena trailhead(hiking south) and last if you begin in Port Renfrew(hiking north). The 12.1 kilometres(7.5 miles) between ...
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The Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5k has a decent beach with an excellent water source. Most hikers pass through the beach here on their way to Michigan if heading north or Tsusiat Falls if hiking south. The beach at Tsocowis is fairly decent and there is plenty ...
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