|Mount Sutil on Galiano Island by Jesse Keefer|
Located off the east coast of Vancouver Island in Georgia Strait, Galiano Island is the sunniest and driest island in the Southern Gulf Islands. This 25 km (15 mi) long, narrow island is an amazing retreat with meadows of wildflowers, lush forests and stunning views. It offers plenty of opportunities for relaxing, fishing, boating and exploring the beaches and sandstone formations that attract many people to come to these shores.
Galiano Island is a little under an hour's non-stop ferry ride via BC Ferries from Tsawaasen on the mainland and a 45-minute ride from Swartz Bay, Victoria on Vancouver Island. There is also an inter-island ferry service. Reservations are recommended. Check BC Ferries schedule for more information. Boat moorage is available at several public wharfs including Sturdies Bay, Montague Harbour, Whalers Bay and Retreat Cove. Float planes also service the Island via Seair Seaplanes and Salt Spring Air.
|Broken Island View from Mount Galiano by Margus Riga|
Visitors to Galiano Island won't be disappointed with the abundance of wildlife on and around its shores. Orca whales, seals and sea lions are frequently spotted as are eagles, cormorants, herons and many other birds and sea life. Galiano Island is also on the migratory path of many bird species.
Forests of towering trees, unique and protected flora, shell beaches created by hundreds of years of wave action, are just some of the reasons to visit Montague Harbour Marine Park. Situated on the southwest side of Galiano, activities include hiking, fishing, canoeing and bird watching with some 150 species visiting this pastoral island.
|Dionisio Park Beach Galiano Island by Jesse Keefer|
Located on the north edge of Galiano Island, access to this park is by boat only. Sandy beaches await the boater as well as tidal pools that are home to an abundance of marine creatures. Fishing and scuba diving for the experienced diver are popular at Dionisio Point Park.
Meadows of wildflowers, red-barked arbutus trees, sandstone formations and stunning views across Georgia Strait to the mountains of Vancouver Island make this park an experience to remember. Bodega Ridge rises some 328 metres (1,076 ft) from sea level and visitors can take the trail that climbs through forests and along the edge of the cliff to the top. The hike takes about 30 minutes.
|Bodega Ridge Provincial Park Galiano Island by Margus Riga|
Experience Galiano Island and the surrounding area from the water. Do some fishing, rent a kayak or go on a whale watching tour. The abundant sea life will virtually ensure you have unforgettable photographic moments. On terra firma, there are various cycling and hiking opportunities on maintained trails including Mount Galiano, the Island's highest point. An Island trails map is available.
Bring your golf clubs with you and enjoy a round of golf at the Galiano Golf and Country Club. Lush fairways and manicured greens make this challenging 9-hole, 1,936 yard course a must for any avid golfer.
A vibrant arts and culture community reside on Galiano Island. Pottery, silver jewelry, glass works and more await the discerning collector. A Galiano Art Guide will steer visitors to the artists' galleries and studios. During the summer the local community hosts several festivals including Blackberry and Wine Festivals plus a Fiesta in August. If you fancy yourself as a filmmaker the Gulf Islands Film and TV School offer short programs during the summer months.
The weekly summer market provides local veggies and fruit, baked goods and a selection of wares produced by the local artisans. There is an eclectic mix of cafes, pubs and restaurants that offer fresh and tasty foods.
|Dionisio Park, Galiano Island by Jesse Keefer|
There are indications that people lived on Galiano Island some 3,000 years ago. Shell middens (refuse heaps) left by the aboriginals of the day were created from the abundant clam beds on the nearby shores.
The Island was part of the traditional territory of the Hul'qumi'num nation but in the late 1700s many of the population died from small-pox. Following in the steps of the explorers George Vancouver in 1792 and Dionisio Galiano, early pioneers settled on the Island, many marrying local Indian women. Some of the residents on the Island today are descended from these early pioneers.
By the latter part of the 19th century, Island residents felled trees, fished the sea, and grew produce which they sold to the burgeoning cities of Victoria and Vancouver. At the same time, Japanese settlers arrived on Galiano Island also developing fisheries and by 1930 were operating a saltery on the north end of the Island.
Today, this idyllic Island is inhabited by those who want a quieter lifestyle including artisans, writers and seniors.
Galiano Island Chamber of Commerce
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia