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Travel: Savouring Savary

It’s not easy to get to and it’s not for everyone, but those who know it love it just the way it is



Some places are best described by what they lack. Savary Island - sometimes termed "Slavery Island" by people preparing for a vacation there - lacks a great deal. Paved roads, electricity, ferry service, sewers, abundant drinking water, big grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacy, souvenir shops and garbage service are some of the amenities missing from the island's inventory of assets.

It's complicated and expensive to take a vehicle across to Savary, so most people don't bother, relying instead on the few crew-cabs and station wagons that make up the island's taxi fleet. Cell reception can be spotty (at least with Rogers), wireless Internet service is cabin-by-cabin, most places to stay are without TV or phones, and there's nowhere to pick up a newspaper.

Getting to Savary is no simple click of the heels either. Travellers must take two ferries and a water-taxi, schlepping all provisions (don't forget sheets and pillow cases) in blue Rubbermaid bins. The logistics of the journey aren't exactly your non-stop Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive. In fact, tourism-wise, Savary is to, say, Salt Spring Island what Nicaragua is to Mexico.

But perhaps it's the "bad" that makes Savary so good. There are many who have fallen in love with this crooked smile-shaped piece of heaven plunked into the Strait of Georgia, across the water from Lund on the Sunshine Coast. They don't mind the inconveniences; in fact, they say it keeps the hordes away and helps preserve the island's simple tranquility. These are the people who know Savary by its other nicknames: "Island Paradise" and "Hawaii of the North." Many of them are Sea to Sky residents who can't resist the siren call that lures them from the mountains to a place where the sun almost always shines, where island breezes kiss exquisite beaches and where the pace of life slows with the flows of the tide.

Savary Island has a laid-back nature and beauty that Whistler and Pemberton residents in particular seem to relish; in fact, some afternoons at the Government Wharf it seems you can't swing a piece of bull kelp without hitting someone you recognize from Nesters. This is a place where exceptionally warm, emerald-coloured waters lap creamy-white sand. At low tide the beaches poach nearly a kilometre of the ocean in places; tidal pools expose clam beds, jellyfish, starfish, crabs and more. Between the island's sandy shores, trails wind through dense forests of fern and cedar, past wildflower fields and fragile sand dunes. Less than eight kilometres long and one kilometre across at its widest point, Savary is small enough to explore on bike or foot, cozy enough to get to know the family in the cabin down the lane, yet big enough to find privacy and solitude.