A Favourite Camping Spot
This is a fabulous, remote sandy bay camping option up in the NW corner of Vancouver Island. It's 20 kms west (looping) from Winter Harbour, itself an adventure to reach. There's tough, remote climbing (a few nasty hills) and a final 1/2 km trail (well maintained) in to the seaside. It feels remote.
I was there in the first week of June and had the bay entirely to myself. There are no "formal campsites": rather, choose a likely spot along the long sandy seaside, likely in the driftwood strewn grassy area up near the edge of the forest. I walked the long, fine grained sandy beach at dusk, watching the waves pounding in and crashing onto the rocks at the ends of the protected bay.
I debated whether to choose Grant Bay or Cape Palmerston Camp to the NW as a favourite campground. Palmerston (see Honourable Mentions) had a strong appeal because it is wilder, closer to a more exposed western shoreline, with crashing waves and wild surf. But Grant Bay was beautiful, with such a fine beach, and great camping options.
Grant Bay shows as a Recreation Campground on my maps and is maintained as a park. There's a modest 'end of the road' parking area, and the 1/2km trail in is fairly well maintained - easy to push a bike along (or ride some stretches). There's not much more in terms of facilities. You'll need to pack in your water. I watered up at a small stream about 1 km before the trailhead, but this could get pretty dry in the summer, so you may want to water up at a larger stream as you are riding in.
I am uncertain whether anyone would ever show up to collect any camping fees - I suspect not.
Check out the Top of the Island Fav backroads ride for more info and directions from this area.
A shot along the Winter Harbour seaside, from the docks at the main marina. There's also a lodge and store nearby. You can leave a vehicle at the Winter Harbour Marina & RV for $5/day. You could camp there, although it is more an open RV style area - but there are showers & laundry and very helpful hosts!
In the map below, you can see Grant Bay camp in the red oval at the lower left. This area west from Port Hardy is at the north tip of Vancouver Island, and Winter Harbour, the westernmost settlement on the Island, has an end of the road appeal. From Nanaimo it is about 390 kms up to Port Hardy (~250kms north of Campbell River), all on good paved highway. From Port Hardy west to Holberg and SW to Winter Harbour is ~72 kms. But this is all on dirt main, at times topped with loose dirt and stone that can make the riding a lot harder than one might expect. In hot, dry weather, vehicles will kick up dust, so consider bringing a cloth dust mask. You should expect to meet logging trucks (there's a major log dump into Holberg Inlet outside Holberg town).
The final (rougher & more remote) stretch of road into Grant Bay has a couple of very steep little hills. As there was lots of loose stone, I had to push my bike a few times (in spite of the excellent grip of my plus size tires).