Five Finger Island and the Hudson Rocks

Five Finger Island with Nanaimo behind

Detail of chart from Captain GH Richards 1862 expedition showing "Five Finger I."These little islands are about 1.5km off the coast of Nanaimo - adjacent to Pipers Lagoon and Stephenson Point. You see them on your right before entering Departure Bay, when you arrive on the ferry.

Closest to the shore are the five smaller islands, called Hudson Rocks (it's a tiny ecological reserve). Then a little farther out is Five Finger Island. I used to think its name was in relation to the smaller islands nearby - but then I found an 1862 marine chart which included this - see how there are five little bumps shown on the island by the old cartographer?

These rocks are beautiful and desolate, with interesting stuff washed ashore. A lot of seals congregate here, too, lying on pebbly beaches and rushing into the water when humans approach.

Harbour seals

Large groups of the Pacific Common Seal hang out at the Five Finger group (as with nearby Snake Island).

These cute, furry creatures are loathed by commercial fishermen. The seals will often follow the boats, taking medium-sized bites from large numbers of salmon and cod. But if you're not relying on fish for your living, you will probably agree that these are some of the cutest mammals around.

These islands are great places to clamber around on the rocks. However, there may be some prohibition regarding going ashore at the group of smaller islands. They appear on maps as the Hudson Rocks Ecological Reserve, "established to protect a nationally significant breeding population of Pelagic Cormorants".

They're also very accessible. There are two boat ramps within range (Brechin ramp, 3.9km from the islands; or Lagoon Rd at Pipers Lagoon, 2.8km), and a canoe/kayaker can easily launch from Pipers Lagoon (Place Rd, 1.3km).

Location of Islands

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