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San Josef at High Tide
San Josef at High Tide

San Josef Bay is nice at any time of the year but, if you have never seen it before, the best time is in spring and early summer when the sun is up for a long, long time. That’s important for several reasons: first, unless you are camping there or near there, the long days give you more time at the beach and second, you will be able to enjoy both a high and low tide there.

Let me explain. The trip by car to the trailhead on a good gravel road is a comfortable hour and a half from Port Hardy. The delightful hike to the beach, on a trail so groomed that it can be negotiated on a wheel chair, takes about forty minutes. Therefore coming and going from Port Hardy to San Jo Bay will eat up over four hours of your day; not to mention that you may want to pause at the Scarlet Ibis in Holberg for a snack or a meal and a cold glass of something.

San Jo Bay has two great beaches separated by a spectacular headland, best viewed at low tide, with extraordinarily shaped stacks of rocks carved out by the sea. Indeed, access to the second beach is more easily achieved at low tide. You simply walk around the headland! Be aware, however, that you may have to take the trail over the top of the headland to return if you overstay your allotted time at the second beach (easy to do!).

The painting shown here was painted at high tide on the nearest beach to the trail very near where it ends at the ocean. The huge twisted tree roots are buried deep in the sand and have been there for as long as I can remember. They had been there long before 1998 when Gillian Peebles, an artist friend from West Australia, and I sketched them. A high tide gives you a very different perspective of the beach since the surf hits the shoreline at a much higher angle. For an artist it’s almost like painting two different spots because the tidal variation can be as much as five metres!

San Josef Bay is a magic place with a magic trail leading to it through old growth forest. If you’ve never been there, do it soon. If you have, do it again. Its soft sands on your bare feet will bring back the child in you.

Henschel Fine Arts
Henschel Fine Arts


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