Things to do in the Gulf Islands, BC

Gulf Islands, BC Travel Guide

The Gulf Islands and the Discovery Islands lie in the Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and Vancouver’s mainland. Encompassing hundreds of little islands, some more populated than others, each as intriguing and magnificent as the next. Idyllic landscapes, wildlife viewing, boating, rocky beaches, and astonishing ocean views await visitors on all of the islands, but it’s their individual character, history, and culture that give them their nuances. Salt Spring Island is laden with artists and therefore decorates its street corners with art studios and craft vendors. Rolling Orchards are indicative of the Mayne Island experience, while three provincial parks are a big attraction of Galiano Island. Further north, Quadra Island is the most populated of the Discovery Islands and is deep-rooted in native history. For a quieter experience, visit Gabriola Island, a peaceful community of artists, writers, craftspeople and retirees.

Salt Spring Island Travel Guide

Get away from it all on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island, one of the largest and most well-known of the Pacific Gulf Islands. Located just off the coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo, Salt Spring Island is situated only a short ferry ride from one of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver, yet visitors to this island paradise feel as though they are worlds away from the hustle of urban life, due in part to the island’s lush vegetation and welcoming atmosphere. While on the island, visitors can enjoy a picnic and a day out at one of the many parks and beaches, including Ruckle Provincial Park and Wallace Island Marine Park. Boating, particularly kayaking, is the activity of choice on the island, although there are also plenty of opportunities for cycling, golfing and other outdoor activities. Salt Spring is known for its thriving arts community, and the local talent can be checked out at galleries, markets and performance venues throughout the island.

Salt Spring Island in British Columbia is the gem of the Southern Gulf Islands. It is nestled alongside the east side of Vancouver Island. Salt Spring Island is about halfway between Nanaimo and Victoria, the capital city of BC. The city of Vancouver on the mainland of British Columbia is to the north.

Salt Spring Island

There are more than ten thousand human residents on Salt Spring Island, several thousand sheep, and a substantial deer population. Every now and then, a bear is spotted, usually on the south side of the island near Ruckle Park, and there are intermittent reports of a cougar being seen, sometimes close to the Ganges. It is thought that bears and cougars swim across Sansum Narrows from Vancouver Island. Nearby Galiano Island is longer but thinly populated with only about a thousand residents. Galiano, Mayne and Pender Islands (North & South) are closer to Vancouver and the mainland than Salt Spring Island. Prevost Island is located between Salt Spring and Active Pass, which separates Galiano and Mayne Islands. There are also numerous smaller islands throughout the Southern Gulf Islands.

Salt Spring Island has long been known as a very unique place in British Columbia. For the population, there are a very large number of artists, sculptors, and musicians living on the island. The community got together and raised funds to build Art Spring — a brand new community hall. Many well-known musicians, both local and from afar, have performed here already. Even the bars have a pretty good showing of local talent performing there.

Things to do in Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island has long been know as a magical place. For its size, it houses a large number of musicians, sculptors, and artists. Like much of British Columbia Salt Spring Island is known for its endless outdoor activities.

Hiking
The island offers several hiking trails. Two of the best are the unspoiled, windy trails that lead to the summit of Bruce Peak and Mount Tuam – the two tallest hills in the Southern Gulf Island. Other shorter hikes are available such as the 2.5-kilometer trek to the top of Mount Erskine.

Scuba Diving
Salt Spring Island is situated in one of the premier diving destinations in North America. The high visibility water is teaming with marine life and is the final resting place of many wrecks waiting to be explored. Equipment rental can be had at Island Escapades.

Bike Riding
Riding provides a great way to explore the island. The windy paved roads offer scenic views second to none. There are also endless single track and cross country tracks available to the mountain bikers. Salt Spring Adventures has you covered if you didn’t bring your own wheels with rates starting around $15 for half-day rental.

Golf
Golf is available at the Salt Spring Island Golf and Country Club. The club offers a 9 hole par 36 course that is open year-round, as well as a driving range and putting green.

Spas
If you’re looking for the ultimate in relaxation look no further than Salt Spring Island. This small island offers several spa options including the highly regarded Salt Spring Spa Resort.

Whale Watching
Sightings of whales vary day to day but generally, sightings are greater between April and October. Gulf Island Safari is the whale watching operator on the island. They belong to a whale spotter network and are able to provide passengers with the most up to date whale watching information prior to departure.

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
Specialists in sheep and goat cheese, their cheeses are entirely handmade, using traditional methods and only all-natural ingredients.

Ruckle Provincial Park
The park is over 480 hectares large with a waterfront that includes 7 kilometers of coastline offering plenty of opportunities to view marine wildlife.

Texada Island Travel Guide

A thirty-five-minute ferry trip from Powel River’s West-view Terminal, Texada Island is on of the largest of the gulf islands (fifty kilometers north to south), but the population is small and services are limited. Originally home to a whaling station, Texada has also been home to a couple of mining operations and a distillery that supplied liquor to the United States during prohibition.

Texada Island

From the ferry terminal at Blubber Bay, the island’s main road winds south to Van Anda, a historic village that once boasted saloons, an opera house, and a hospital. Take a walk along Van Anda’s Erickson Beach to appreciate Texada Island’s natural beauty. Continuing south, the road leads to Gillies Bay and beyond to Shelter Point Regional Park, which has some short but enjoyable hiking trails and campsites. Get to Texada Island with BC Ferries, tel. (604) 485 2943.

Galiano Island

One of the larger of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Galiano Island is conveniently located between Vancouver and Salt Spring Island, with its main village, Sturdies Bay, being the first stop on the ferry from Tsawwassen. Enjoy life at a slower pace at this creative haven, where small markets offering in local crafts and fresh produce can be found on every corner. Modern-day Galiano Island is inhabited primarily by free-spirited artisans that differ little from Galiano’s original residents, the Coast Salish Aboriginal people, who carved out a warm, community-oriented tradition on this lush piece of land. An island of parks, Galiano features four provincial parks, including Bellhouse Park, Bodega Ridge, and Montague Harbour Marine Park. The newest park, Dionisio Point, is named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Galiano who charted the island in 1792. In addition to parks, Galiano has several shells and sand beaches. Kayaking is the local pastime, but there is also a nine-hole golf course on the island.

Galiano Island
Galiano Island, Gulf Islands, BC

Dionisio Point Provincial Park is situated on scenic Galiano Island and is only accessible by boat. Pebble and sand beaches, meadows filled with wildflowers and tidal pools rich with intertidal life are characteristics of the park. There is evidence that First Nations used the area more than 3,000 years ago. Today, many people frequent the park to indulge in scuba diving, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and walk-in camping. Northeast point of Galiano Island  BC

Bodega Ridge Park’s high cliffs are home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and turkey vultures. Unique sandstone formations on the water’s edge below support large wildflower populations, which are known for their splendor and can be enjoyed by passing boaters and paddlers. The highlight of this day-use only park is a 4 km (2.5 mi) ridge rising 328 m (1076 ft) above sea level. The top of the ridge can be reached in approximately 30 minutes via a trail that leads uphill along the top of Bodega Ridge, through a forested area and along the cliff edge. From the top, hikers will be rewarded with spectacular vistas of Trincomali Channel, Vancouver Island and the Strait of Georgia.

Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is rich in natural and cultural history. White shell beaches, open meadows, tidal lagoons, towering forests, craggy headlands, and abundant birdlife are just a few of the things that attract visitors to this park. Visitors can moor their boats to one of the 35 buoys in sheltered Montague Harbour or come by ferry and camp in one of the scenic vehicle-accessible or walk-in campsites.

 

 

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