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British Columbia Vacations
Gulf Islands

Gulf Islands
  • Accommodations
  • Top 10 Activities

    Gabriola I Galiano I Mayne I Pender I Salt Spring I Saturna

    Journey to the Gulf Islands to sit back and relax in the peaceful tranquility, to breathe deeply the clean ocean air and to rejuvenate your soul. Many of Canada's artists have been charmed by the beauty and serenity of the peaceful Gulf Islands and you, too, may find yourself visiting the local real estate office before the end of your stay!

    Salt Spring Island (Population: 10,000)
    Salt Spring Island is famous for sunshine, scenery, and art. Lots of art. A number of Canada’s most renowned artists, inspired by the beauty and the tranquil lifestyle, have made their homes on Salt Spring Island. Galleries and artisan studios in the villages and along the country roads offer everything from paintings, sculptures, and prints, to weaving, pottery, stained glass, basketry, and jewellery. ArtCraft, a summer-long exhibition and sale, showcases works by more than 250 Gulf Island artisans.

    The wellness movement is strong on Salt Spring Island and whether you are looking for yoga retreats and mineral spas, gentle outdoor activities, or simply absorbing the stunning scenery for a few days, Salt Spring Island is the perfect place to restore your personal balance.

    On Salt Spring Island, BC Ferries operates out of three terminals: Fulford Harbour ferries sail to Swartz Bay, near Sidney on Vancouver Island; Long Harbour serves ferries to and from Tsawwassen Terminal, just south of Vancouver on the mainland; and Vesuvius Bay ferries sail to Crofton, near Duncan on Vancouver Island.

    Salt Spring Island offers a full range of quality accommodations and many excellent restaurants.

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    Mayne Island (Population: 900)
    When gold was discovered in the Fraser River in 1858, Mayne Island played a part in the fervour as a stopping point for marine traffic en route to the mainland. Boatloads of miners with the sparkle of Gold Rush fever in their eyes tied up along the docks and filled saloons and hotels in Miners Bay. Now, the historic buildings are preserved as landmarks and Mayne Island has taken its place as a quiet getaway island with a rich, colourful history.

    Boaters can find docking facilities at the government dock and can walk into the village of Miners Bay; there are also docking facilities at Horton Bay. Choose from a unique selection of accommodations, including delightful bed and breakfasts, country inns, cabins, campsites, and resorts, as well as plenty of recreational opportunities.

    Galiano Island (Population: 1,000)
    Named after a Spanish explorer who sailed these waters 200 years ago, charming Galiano Island welcomes visitors with its relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty. A haven for naturalists and bird watchers, peaceful Galiano is home to more than 130 species of birds and many rare and protected plants. Quiet country roads through the predominantly Douglas fir forest lead to arts and crafts galleries, cafes and restaurants, cottages, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Outdoor recreation ranges from a challenging round of golf to a picnic at a scenic viewpoint, kayaking along the shoreline to relaxing on the beaches at Montague Harbour or Coon Bay.

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    Saturna Island (Population: 326)
    Saturna Island's moderate climate, quality accommodations and services make it an ideal year-round destination for that special retreat or quiet getaway. Cycling, hiking and kayaking are popular pastimes and there are scenic walks and easy access to beaches.

    Saturna's thirty-one square kilometre area includes forests, wet lands, mud flats, rock bluffs, reefs and beaches. There are over one hundred and eighty bird species from hummingbirds to bald eagles. Deer, favourites among the island's wildlife, are seen everywhere. A rich and abundant marine life is visible on rocks and in tidal pools. River otters, seals and sea lions are seen along the costal waters and orca whales are frequently spotted in the waters off East Point. Winter Cove, site of the Saturna Lamb Barbecue, features sheltered anchorage and boat launching, with trails through mixed forest, marsh land and shoreline, to a view point at Boat Pass. Below the rock bluffs on the south side of the island are Saturna Vineyard and Winery, Thomson Park and Taylor Point. There are beach areas for unsupervised swimming at Veruna Bay, East Point Regional Park, and Thomson Park.

    The permanent population on Saturna has remained small, preserving the charm and rural character of the island. Come to Saturna and experience the rhythm of island life for yourself.
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    Pender Islands (Population: 2,200)
    Known as the “friendly islands” and the “islands of hidden coves and beaches,” the Penders are actually two islands joined together by a bridge. The Penders are the perfect place for family vacations, romantic escapes, seminars, and retreats and offer an intimate and pastoral setting popular with nature lovers.

    Accommodations include campsites at Prior Centennial Provincial Park and Beaumont Marine Park, cabins, bed and breakfast inns, and resorts. Boaters can find marinas at Port Browning, Otter Bay, and Bedwell Harbour. Bicycle, and boat rentals are offered, as well as a variety of other enjoyable activities.

    Gabriola Island (Population: 4,500)
    Beautiful Gabriola Island, known as the Queen of the Gulf Islands, is located just offshore from Nanaimo and offers a wonderful variety of activities in a lovely setting of forested parks and serene beaches. The Malaspina Galleries are one of the island’s biggest natural attractions and are an amazing series of sandstone formations carved by the surf into unusual caves and caverns.

    BC Ferries operates a vehicle and passenger ferry between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo; there are numerous trips each day with a sailing time of approximately 20 minutes.

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