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Gabriola Island South Beach (Richard Pullano photo)

Gabriola Island South Beach

(Richard Pullano photo)

Gabriola Island

Geography

Gabriola is the most northerly of the Southern Gulf Islands and lies in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.

The island is one of the most accessible in the Gulf Islands, an archipelago of hundreds of islands stretching from the San Juan Islands in the US to the northern Gulf Islands. Reach Gabriola by a 5km/3mi, 20-minute ferryboat ride from downtown Nanaimo to Gabriola's Descanso Bay terminal.

Topography

Kidney-shaped Gabriola is about 14km/9mi by about 4km/3mi. The topography varies from flat sandy beaches to forested hills rising to 160m/525ft at Stoney Ridge in the island's centre. Glaciations and erosion on the island's sandstone and shale are responsible for the dramatic cliffs, points, bays and sandstone formations Gabriolans now enjoy.

Landscape

The landscape is a mix of beaches, forest, farms, residential and recreational areas. The island has been both mined and logged, but stands of old growth and lush second-growth forests survive. Douglas fir, red cedar, western hemlock, evergreen arbutus and the iconic Gulf Island Garry oak make choice canopies for hikers and bikers.

Climate & Weather

Gabriolans enjoy a mild temperate climate. Winters are cool and moist, summers warm and dry. The island averages 138 rainy days per year, largely between October and March. During winter, occasional dustings of snow contribute to the picturesque beauty of the island. Average temperatures in January range between 0.8°C/33°F and 6.6°C/44°F, while in July the range is between 11°C/53°F and 22°C/72°F. As with any island climate, temperatures drop near the sea, so the layered look is always fashionable.