Sidney BC – City of Crabs

Sidney BC is an easily-overlooked town right off the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. We’ve driven past it many times on our way to Victoria, only occasionally stopping at the MacDonalds for a quick bite.

We’ve rectified this error this time, and spent a fabulous 3-night stay here with our good friends David, Rofie, and their son.

Our trip didn’t get off to a perfect start. Firstly, we failed to book a reservation in time, so we had planned to get to the terminal 1 to 1.5 hours before sailing time to make it on the 11am ferry. Then on the day of, David managed to squeeze through the gate at 9:45am and got on the 10am ferry while we took a slight detour for a quick EV charge at Tsawwassen Mills. It would have been more fun to ride the ferry together but we made the best of it. Note to self: always pre-book a ferry well in advance (like, as soon as trip details are confirmed) especially when traveling with a group.

We met up with David in Sidney and checked in to our Airbnb, before heading back in town for some groceries. I decided to take the boys out to the fishing pier and check out the famous crabbing scene. I had purchased some new casting crab traps and I already had a salt water fishing license for a previous trip to Sechelt. The only thing missing was our confidence, since we have yet to catch a crab with our ring traps.

The fishing pier was an elevated, L-shaped platform. When we got there, a lady was just getting ready to cast her crab trap. I started asking her about crabbing, and she was super friendly and helpful in giving me tips. I wasn’t sure if I was going to put in the traps since it was getting a little late and I was alone with my 2 boys, but after talking to her, I felt welcomed to try.

Awesome crabbing lady who showed us the ropes

After only a few castings, we actually got a monster-sized Dungeness and an equally impressive Red Rock. Big Bro named the Dungeness “Mr. Monster” because it’s a male crab measuring larger than 7 inches.

Mr. Monster, over 7 inches wide.

We had a great dinner and this cemented our addiction to crabbing for the rest of the trip.

The next day, David went straight from our Airbnb to Canadian Tire and got himself 2 casting crab traps as well, and we went to town on them crabs.

Our crabbing became somewhat of a spectacle. With every pull, we got some crabs. Especially David, who just kept pulling up legal-sized male Red Rocks. I got some decent sized Dungeness, but they were either too small or female. There were groups of tourists on the pier who often stopped by for a chat. Some of them were from Alberta or Ontario, thrilled to witness the bounties of the ocean. We taught them how to measure crabs, how to identify male and female crabs, and why we release the females back. We sounded like pros even though David’s traps were literally brand new off the store shelf that morning.

After 1 hour of crabbing, we walked away with 11 Red Rock crabs. We had 4 fishing licenses, so our daily quota was 16 crabs maximum.

Red Rocks have a very tough shell, and relatively less meat. We spent a good part of the afternoon cracking the shells and eating the crabs. By the end of it, I was very crabbed out and we saved 3 for the next day. I took a break from crabbing but David went back to crabbing each day of the 4-day trip, and he never came home empty-handed.

I can see why a crab was featured so prominently on the banners all over Sidney.

Strolling Beacon Avenue in Sidney

Sidney is a very charming town even without the crabbing. We visited the Sidney Museum, the main attraction being, of all things, an impressive Lego Town.

It may have inspired Big Bro to independently finish a Lego set all by himself. All I did was opening the bag and the instruction manual. This is a new milestone for him!

Fish market: David and Rofie went to check out a small fish market at the end of Beacon Ave.

Glass Beach where a ton of beautiful sea glass was scattered across the small beach near the fishing pier. I read a sign that the glass was from a nearby glass factory that got destroyed by storm.

Searching for sea glass on Glass Beach

Sidney also has a beautiful Waterfront Walkway that we hadn’t fully explored due to being so busy with crabbing and other attractions in town

David and Rofie also managed to visit the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, which is a small but beautiful aquarium right in the heart of all the action.

We visited the Haunted Bookstore, the oldest of the many unique secondhand bookstores in Sidney, which is also known as “Booktown”. The bookstore was somewhat chaotic and haphazardly organized, which added to the charm of treasure hunting. If you came in with a specific book in mind though, you might be frustrated.

And on Sunday, we were treated to a great outdoor concert at Beacon Park, as a part of the “Summer Sounds” weekly concert series that run each Sunday in July and August.

One beautiful thing about Sidney is that, all of the above attractions are within walking distance up and down the main drag of Beacon Avenue. We simply drove in town, parked our car, and did everything we wanted to do on foot.

A quick word about our accommodation as well. We lucked out on a very spacious, well stocked Airbnb on top of Westport Marina. The marina views very much added to our whole Sidney experience.

We had a stroll and explored a nearby Tryon Beach. It’s rocky but very calm. It’s 650 meters of a walk, quite a commitment if I wanted to walk from the Airbnb to launch my paddleboard, so I opted out. Instead, we went to Elk/Beaver Lake one afternoon.

This is a part of our 2022 BC Coastal Circle Tour. Read on!

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