Only 20 minutes by BC Ferries from the city of Nanaimo, Gabriola Island (population ~5,000) casts spells across layers of time.
Its sandstone geology studs the coast with dramatic rock formations. Petroglyphs carved by First Nations people speak for Gabriola's most ancient culture. The island's natural bounty invites modern adventurers to try fishing for salmon and halibut, go hiking in the verdant forests and enjoy biking the island from top to bottom.
Gabriola's deeply embedded arts community beckons travellers to shop the art galleries and private studios, take in a play or festival and unwind body and soul with a range of innovative spa therapies.
Today's Gabriola strikes visitors as beautiful, tranquil and easygoing. And it is. People say it's so quiet sometimes, you can hear a bird's wings in motion. The island swarms with painters, sculptors, photographers and glass artists, not to mention musicians, dancers and writers.