Porteau Cove: Where the Sea Meets the Sky

Published: September 04, 2022 | Updated: June 18, 2024

Porteau Cove is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver. This gorgeous marine park draws visitors with its scenic ocean views and tranquility.

Porteau Cove is a great destination for day trippers and campers. The 56-hectare park is nestled on the most southerly fjord in North America, along the eastern shore of Howe Sound.

It is one of the closest marine parks to Vancouver that offers waterfront campsites.

In French, “Porteau” (porte d’eau) means “Water’s Gate”.  The area got its name in 1908 when John F. Deeks started his mining company here to supply Vancouver’s construction industry with sand and gravel.

Activities to Do

Popular activities at the park include camping, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, scuba diving, swimming, stargazing and aurora borealis viewing, wildlife watching and windsurfing.

The tide, wind and weather conditions can change suddenly in Howe Sound.  Use caution while swimming and doing water sports.

Visitors can see and hear the train cross at different hours of the day.  The BC Rail train track runs along the boundary of the park.

Explore the rocky beaches sprinkled with pebbles, rocks, logs and driftwood.  There are access points to the beach area without having to climb over logs and driftwood.


The day-use area features picnic tables, washrooms and garbage bins within the vicinity of the parking area.  Picnic shelters are not available, and showers are located on the campground.

Visitors can enjoy the spectacular views of Howe Sound from the various lookout points on the pier.  There are 2 paved double-wide boat launches at the southern end of the park.

Those who prefer glamping can enjoy a little outdoor luxury at the two Olympic Legacy cabins.  Pioneer Log Homes of Williams Lake, BC built the cabins for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games .

Each cabin has one bedroom and a loft, a private kitchen and a bathroom and can sleep up to four people.  The park supplies all the linens.

Related: Vancouver Waterfront Daycations

Wildlife and Marine Life Sightings

Porteau Cove is also an intertidal home to hundreds of living plants and animals.  A series of man-made reefs and two sunken vessels provides a haven for fascinating marine life to thrive.  A series of marker buoys marked the dive zone.  The park forbid diving from a boat within its boundary.

Bring your binocular.  You may catch a glimpse of a harbour seal bobbing in the water and birds foraging for their aquatic prey.

According to BC Parks, other wildlife sightings includes marine waterfowl and harbour porpoises, river otters, mink, coyotes, racoons.  Orcas, gray whales and humpback whales play in the surrounding waters from spring through fall. Pink salmon spawn in the estuary within the park every two years.

Open Year Round

Porteau Cove is open year round.  Reservation is not required for day use and its free.  There are 16 walk-in campsites.  For campsite or log cabin booking, contact BC Parks.