Vancouver Island

Vacation Guide 2016

Super, Natural British Columbia

Gulf Islands

Gulf Islands Region

Gulf Islands Region
Dream an island getaway to life in the heart of the Salish Sea. Make that islands plural, each with a distinctive character yet all sharing unspoilt natural beauty and a sublimely tranquil pace of life. The characters who reside here are pretty unique too: writers, artists and musicians, B&B owners and retired millionaires, hippies and spiritual seekers, farmers, cheesemakers and easy going folk of all kinds. No matter their background, everyone has set their clocks to “Island Time,” and that means no fuss, no rush (at least until it’s time to catch the next ferry out).
The southern Gulf Islands sit pretty along Vancouver Island’s eastern coastline, stretching from Saturna near the Canada/ U.S. maritime border north to Gabriola off shore from Nanaimo. A half dozen of the larger islands are home to vibrant communities and are full-service vacation destinations for weekenders and long-stay visitors. Several hundred more smaller, uninhabited clumps of rock and trees serve ocean kayakers, pleasure boaters, seabirds and slumbering colonies of sea lions.

Getting here by ferry or floatplane is part of the adventure and practical proof that you’ve made the great escape. Settle into the welcoming embrace of a B&B, inn, resort or campground, then do as little or as much exploring as you like – either actively (hiking, biking, kayaking) or in more relaxed fashion while birdwatching, beachcombing or catching rays in a deckchair. Inhale the fresh air and scenery. Snap photos of apple orchards, sheep-filled fields and the panoramic views along cliff side hiking trails. Wander through rare Garry Oak and Arbutus ecosystems. Hang out with the locals in coffee shops and pubs while learning best-kept island secrets direct from the source.

Meet creative folk in galleries and home art studios. Linger over regionally sourced food and drink on oceanfront patios. Or simply find a quiet spot on land or by the sea to picnic with loved ones and/or a good book.

Holidaying on a Gulf Island guarantees rest and relaxation – and the choice is yours as to whether the R&R is healthy, creative, pampered or pleasantly indulgent. These options mix and mingle at island spas and wellness facilities specializing in holistic therapies – hydrotherapy, sea-salt scrubs, Reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology, mineral baths and more. Book one-time sessions or dedicate an entire vacation to optimizing mind, body and soul. Sign up for yoga classes or a meditation retreat. Daily exposure to nature on the water or in the vast green spaces that have been smartly preserved for future generations speeds the relaxation process.

Concerts, readings, theatre productions, culinary offerings, gallery openings and a busy spring, summer and fall schedule of festivals – literary, musical, nautical, arts and apples included – keep residents and visitors entertained. Buying local is a pleasure at weekend markets where artisans, gardeners, farmers, cooks and musicians showcase their island style.

Immerse yourself for a weekend or longer in a refreshingly different way of life. Enjoy a variety of easily accessible experiences. And stack up the quality time with friends and family. Guarantee: Once you’ve visited one island, you’ll want to collect experiences on them all.

Things to do on the Gulf Islands

  1. Visit galleries, weekend markets and numerous home studios secreted away in idyllic backroad settings. 
  2. Launch an ocean kayak from beaches, boat launches and public docks to explore tranquil bays, sheltered coves and uninhabited islands. Equipment rentals, lessons, and guided tours are available.
  3. Bring a camera and sense of awe to numerous scenic viewpoints including Mount Maxwell, Mount Erskine and Ruckle Park on Salt Spring; Mount Warburton Pike on Saturna; Mount Galiano and Bluffs Park on Galiano; Mount Parke Regional Park on Mayne; Mount Norman on Pender; and Orlebar Point on Gabriola.
  4. Boaters cherish the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and its 33km² of marine parkland spread across numerous islets, reefs and islands. Get out on the water with nature cruises, boat charters, sailing lessons and saltwater fishing charters.
  5. Cycle a diverse range of landscapes – flat country roads, challenging climbs and fast descents included – on each of the Gulf Islands. Linger in coffeeshops, pedal past forest and farmland, and expect some serious cardio workouts. Caution: Narrow roadways require caution from cyclists and drivers alike.
  6. Wade into the ocean from any available shoreline for scuba diving adventures or join a guided expedition to popular dive spots.
  7. Swing a club with the locals at charming nine-hole golf courses on Salt Spring, Gabriola, Galiano and Pender Islands.
  8. Schedule a visit for any of numerous festivals, concerts, theatre productions and special events held year-round on each of the islands. 
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BC Ferries Vacations

Many Communities • Across Vancouver Island
1-888-BC FERRY (1-888-223-3779) Ext 3
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BC Ferries Vacations™ connects you with Vancouver Island’s world-class destinations and provides unique vacation experiences to the avid traveller. Offering several packages for one and two-nights or longer, BC Ferries Vacations™  travel experts have hand-picked the best accommodations and activities and packaged them with the ferry travel to bring you all-in-one convenience, quality and value. The best way to experience the wonders of Vancouver Island is with one of BC Ferries Vacations’™ unique and unforgettable vacation packages.

If you’re seeking an urban getaway with renowned dining and shopping experiences, be sure to take some time to explore Victoria, the capital of B.C. and the largest city on Vancouver Island. Located on the charming harbour front, downtown Victoria boasts the second most restaurants per capita of any other city in North America, BC’s historic Parliament Buildings and the largest Chinatown in Canada. When planning your next visit, be sure to ask about our great offers at the Inn at Laurel Point – located minutes away from the Inner Harbour and downtown – memorable experiences are waiting around every corner in Victoria BC.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the west coast surf or just watch it crash onto the rocky shoreline from the comfort of your room, the coastal towns of Tofino and Ucluelet can’t be beat. During storm watching season, swells that travel across the Pacific and pound the shores of Tofino and Ucluelet reach up to 6 metres in height and an average of 10 – 15 storms hit per month. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino and Ucluelet are world-renowned by surfers, nature-lovers and storm watchers alike. If you are looking for great place to watch the wild west coast weather unfold, book a BC Ferries Vacations™ at the Cox Bay Beach Resort in Tofino or the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet.

Family friendly activities abound in the seaside town of Parksville, centrally located on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. A beachcomber’s paradise, the sandy shore stretches as far as the eye can see and visitors can spend hours exploring Rathtrevor Beach. From Parksville’s annual sandcastle building competition to the Treasure Island themed 36-hole mini-golf course, there’s always something to keep kids (and parents) of all ages entertained. For the best family-friendly offer, ask about our packages at the Beach Club Resort, Parksville.

Vancouver Island is home to several award winning spas and boasts numerous spa getaways for those looking for a luxurious and relaxing weekend away. From the trendy, harbour city of Victoria to the relaxing island style of the Gulf Islands, a spa vacation with your friends couldn’t be easier to find. If you are looking to recharge with a laid back beach getaway, ask about our packages in Courtenay at the luxurious Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa.

To stay up to date with BC Ferries news, promotions, contests and great deals, sign up for the BC Ferries OnBoard Newsletter or join us on Twitter to receive up to the minute notices on specials, deals and services.

To see what diverse and exciting packages BC Ferries Vacations™ has to offer across Vancouver Island, be sure to contact us and request a vacation package quote or a customized itinerary for the vacation of your choice.

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BC Ferries Vacations™ connects you with Vancouver Island’s world-class destinations and provides unique vacation experiences to the avid traveller. Offering several packages for one and two-nights or longer, BC Ferries… Continue Reading
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Harbour Air

Comox, Duncan, Ganges, Nanaimo, Victoria • Central Island, Cowichan, Gulf Islands, North Central Island, South Island
1-800-665-0212
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Experience Vancouver Island from a new point of view with a breathtaking seaplane adventure. Enjoy a 20 minute Victoria panorama flight featuring unique views of the city & the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Day trip to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens or downtown Vancouver. A variety of exciting tours await. Discover British Columbia’s spectacular coastlines with Harbour Air Seaplanes. Harbour Air Seaplanes also offers frequent and convenient scheduled flights connecting downtown Victoria, downtown Vancouver, Richmond (YVR Aiport), Comox, Nanaimo, Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands and Whistler (seasonally). Travel like a local and experience a true West Coast tradition. We are proud to be North America’s first carbon neutral airline.

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Experience Vancouver Island from a new point of view with a breathtaking seaplane adventure. Enjoy a 20 minute Victoria panorama flight featuring unique views of the city & the Olympic… Continue Reading
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Kenmore Air

Seattle, WA • All Regions
1-866-435-9524 • 425-486-1257
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Fly with Kenmore Air from Seattle, Washington to over 45 spectacular Northwest destinations. Year-round daily scheduled seaplane flights leave from Seattle’s downtown Lake Union to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, and our seasonal air service flies between Seattle’s Lake Union or Kenmore or Lake Washington to Nanaimo, the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Desolation Sound, Blind Channel and the Northern Inside Passage. Skip the ferry lines & and avoid long lines at the boarder. With Kenmore Air you’ll be in Victoria in about 45 minutes. It’s fast, convenient and stress-free!

Kenmore Air also offers combined Fly + Stay air and hotel packages to Victoria. When booking your tickets online, first select your preferred flights. At the bottom of the page you’ll be then asked if you would like to “Continue without Accommodation” or “Select Accommodation”. If you want to add a hotel room to your flight reservation just click on the Select Accommodation blue box and you’ll see what hotel options are available. If you prefer to book by phone, just ask your reservation agent what hotels are available at your destination and we’ll get you set up.

Fishing Expeditions: Flying on a seaplane from Seattle to your favorite fishing lodge in beautiful British Columbia is also fast, convenient and stress-free. No other region in BC matches Vancouver Island for easily accessible fresh and saltwater fishing excitement. For some, it’s the exhilarating quest of fighting a trophy-sized fish, and for others it’s the escape to breathtaking natural surroundings – but to most, it’s both! Thrill to the challenge of battling salmon from a small boat on calm, protected waters, just a short cast from shore, knowing that the comforts of home are just a few minutes away from prime fishing grounds.

Desolation Sound & Campbell River (Mid-May to mid- September) – This is Vancouver Island’s center for outdoor adventures, but salmon fishing is still “king”. These storied fishing grounds are ideally located to intercept the many runs of salmon migrating south along the Inside Passage. The unique and extraordinary lodges and resorts we fly to from Seattle include April Point Lodge, Dent Island, Dolphins Resort, Morgan’s Landing, Nanook Lodge, Painters Lodge, Sonora Resort and Steep Island Lodge. If you’re looking for a 3-day complete fishing package that includes round-trip air from Seattle and gourmet food check out the West Coast Wilderness Lodge.

Northern Inside Passage (mid-June to early-September) – Our most remote frontier offers a tremendous variety of fishing, lodging and wildlife experiences. Fishing holes are scattered among countless uninhabited islands and steep-walled inlets. Distinct seasons from May through September produce prize catches of salmon, halibut and freshwater trout. Lodges and resorts we fly to from Seattle include Blackfish Lodge, Bones Bay Lodge and Sund’s Lodge. Click here to see our Northern Inside Passage flight schedule.

Charter flights are also available!

Categories: Air Service, All Season
Map Data ©2016 Google
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Fly with Kenmore Air from Seattle, Washington to over 45 spectacular Northwest destinations. Year-round daily scheduled seaplane flights leave from Seattle’s downtown Lake Union to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, and our… Continue Reading
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Pender Island

Two islands…countless treasures

Natural beauty at every turn rejuvenates your soul. Come feel the spirit!

Pender Island • Gulf Islands
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Poets Cove Resort and Spa

The Gulf Island’s Premier Resort

Pender Island • Gulf Islands
1-888-512-POET (7638)