Shaped like a couple of crab claws, a 20-mile-long pair of bridge-linked islands rise from an inland sea. They're never very cold, and their rainfall is half what Seattle gets.
Hidden beaches dot the rocky shoreline, and fields break up the hilly, timbered interior; gravel roads lead to secluded homes, small farms, and artists' studios. They could be two of Washington's San Juan Islands ― and would be, if the line had been drawn just a few miles to the north
Instead, North and South Pender Islands ― just off Vancouver Island, British Columbia ― are among the southernmost of Canada's Southern Gulf Islands.
North Pender Island has long been the last port of call for the ferry from Vancouver before it stops at bigger, better-known Salt Spring Island. But visitors are finding more reasons to debark and linger on the Pender Islands these days. And a new world-class resort, with its villas and spa and restaurants spilling down the hillside to a marina full of sailboats and cabin cruisers, is just the most obvious one.
A welcome newcomer
Poets Cove Resort & Spa, on South Pender Island, was built from the foundations of Bedwell Harbour Resort, for many years a favorite destination for vacationing families. The new resort has maintained its family appeal with tennis courts, two swimming pools, a fleet of kayaks (for those arriving without their own boat), the casual Syrens lounge, and a friendly, easygoing ambience. Adults appreciate the spa, which is as alluring as its name (Susurrus), and the resort's elegant Aurora Restaurant, where the chef capitalizes on local bounty, from Gulf Islands lamb to Salt Spring Island goat cheese and fresh herbs from a farm on North Pender.