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1-0899-Carmanah
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
(JF Bergeron photo)

Vancouver Island

Gulf Islands

In 2010, National Geographic Traveler named the Gulf Islands one of the world's best coastal destinations.

The Gulf Islands are a chain of islands located between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.

Here, sheltered waters make for ideal sailing, scuba diving, and fishing; languorous beaches beckon swimmers; and ecologically protected forests welcome hikers.

The area's mild climate – almost Mediterranean – nurtures the many wineries, and holistic farms. The creative atmosphere attracts numerous artists to the island and visitors find that island hopping over a week or so is a great way to soak it all in.

Gulf Islands Facts

  • The Gulf Islands lie between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.
  • They number more than 200, with the larger islands accessible by BC Ferries from both Vancouver Island and the mainland. Others are reached by private boat or float plane.
  • Salt Spring Island is the most populated and most popular island.

Gulf Island Communities

Denman Island
Denman Island offers visitors scenic parks, and exceptional wilderness and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Gabriola Island
A laid-back, artsy attitude awaits on Gabriola Island.

Galiano Island
Galiano Island, the driest of the Southern Gulf Islands, lies just east of busy Salt Spring Island and southwest of the BC mainland.

Hornby Island
Hornby Island boasts a large arts community, and numerous scenic parks and beaches.

Mayne Island
Mayne Island lies about midway between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. The island is best known for its collection of turn-of-the-19th-century buildings, and superb kayaking conditions.

Pender Islands
Once joined by a peninsula, the Pender Islands are densely forested and the coastline is dotted with the kind of small, secluded beaches that attract abundant wildlife.

Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island's easy-going lifestyle, rich cultural scene and serene beauty have made it a top BC tourism destination.

Saturna Island
Saturna Island is the least developed and most sparsely populated of the Gulf Islands. Highlights of the landscape include interesting sandstone formations, a long stretch of undisturbed, old-growth forest, and Mount Warburton Pike.

Gulf Islands Outdoor Activities

Swim and fish in the protected waters of the Gulf Island, or scuba dive for treasure. Camp and hike in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – an ecological paradise of land pockets on 15 islands, plus numerous small islets and reef areas. Cycling is the best way to traverse the islands.

Gulf Islands Food and Wine

Salt Spring and Saturna Islands have established thriving wineries, most of which welcome the public for tours and tastings. As well, the islands have long been a haven for organic farming, and farmers’ markets abound during the summer months. Salt Spring is also home to a cluster of exquisite food artisans, particularly cheesemakers.

Gulf Islands Artists and Artisans

Many artists have settled in the islands, drawn by the calm beauty and exquisite light. More than 40 artists and artisans live on Salt Spring.