Point, Entrance Island Lighthouse. Photo Carol Ramsay
BC Gulf Islands
is the most northerly of the Southern Gulf Islands and lies in
the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and mainland British
Columbia. It is one of the most accessible in the Gulf Islands
with ferry service running daily, 16 times each way, a 5km/3mi,
20-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo.
Gabriola is about 14km/9mi by about 4km/3mi. Its sandstone geology
studs the coast with dramatic rock formations. The topography
varies from flat sandy beaches to forested hills rising to 160m/525ft
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.
Bay Marina. Photo Carol Ramsay
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
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 earliest inhabitants of Gabriola Island were the Snuneymuxw
First Nation, a Coast Salish people who arrived to hunt and fish
an estimated 5,000 years ago. More than 50 petroglyphs carved
by this ancient people in cliffs and rocks can still be seen today.
Next came the Spanish, looking for gold. They left behind names
from Descanso Bay to Malaspina Inlet. Scots, Irish and English
followed. Settlers and farmers stayed, farmed and cut timber for
Nanaimo. The islands history can be explored in depth at the Gabriola
Museum. Millstone quarrying, brick manufacturing, logging and
shipbuilding all play a part in Gabriola's history.
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Bay Kayaking Adventures offers, adventures, courses and
trips for children.
can swim, hike, bicycle, rent a scooter, go fishing, diving, sailing,
kayaking or even rent a paddleboard. Or visit a working alpaca
farm, great for children of all ages. Take a yoga, pilates, ballet
or dance class or play some tennis. We have a ball field and The
Gabriola Recreation Society has loads of programs. The Gym at
Twin Beaches can even offer a personal trainer!
The island swarms with painters, sculptors, photographers and
glass artists, not to mention musicians, dancers, actors and writers.
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.
it's no surprise that an island celebrated for its arts community
should get around to theatre. At the Gabriola Theatre Festival
in August, look for a theatrical range from comedy and satire
to drama and fantasy. Supporting events include StreetArt, with
50 Gabriola artists present to display and discuss their art.
seminal event is the Thanksgiving Weekend Studio Tour. It runs
through the long weekend and involves about 100 island artists.
A brochure guides visitors to more than 40 studios. Artists display
masterworks in clay and metal sculpture, jewellery, acrylics,
batiks, oils and water colors, photography and stained glass.
personal and professional development, The Haven offers programs
that will have you leaving with skills to be fully alive, have
healthy relationships and communicate effectively. Or, partake
of any of their innovative spa therapies including: Massage Therapy,
Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Chi Nei Tsang, Reflexology, Structural
Integration, Jin Shin Do Acupressure .Reiki, Lomilomi Hawaiian
Bodywork, Four-handed Lomilomi Massage, or Transformational Movement
Village at Night. Photo Bill Pope
Gabriola Island has no luxury hotels, but does have a range of
accommodations including a resort, inn, B&Bs, vacation rentals,
and campgrounds. Since there's no downtown, they're scattered
around the island and some are just minutes from the ferry.
Located near the ferry terminal, Descanso Bay Regional Park has
campsites with oceanfront views. For those who like a few more
amenities, campsites are also available at Pages Resort
& Marina near Silva Bay.
Bring your own! We dont have public transit but we do have
a taxi service. Well, one taxi anyway so you might have
to share. You get to Gabriola either by BC Ferry or Tofino Air,
or your own boat. It is one of the most accessible in the Gulf
Islands with ferry service running daily, 16 times each way, a
5km/3mi, 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo. Tofino Air
flies directly to Silva Bay from Richmond near Vancouver.
Gabriola Island is home to around 4,200 people: double that in
the summer. The average age of a Gabriolan is about 52.9. Our
residents are well educated with 66% having schooling beyond grade
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.
There are just so many and include: The Concert on the Green,
Thanksgiving Studio Tours, Street Art Festival, Gabriola Theatre
Festival, Salmon BBQ, Gabriola Island Home and Garden Tour, Silva
Bay Salmon Derby, The Brickyard Beast 10K, and numerous Farmers
markets and Craft fairs.
The Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce/Visitor
Centre can be reached at 250 247 9332 or at www.gabriolaisland.org.
Visitor Centre is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm in July and August
with reduced hours during the rest of the year. Check their website
for details. Their brochure, GoGabriola can also be
picked up at most all Visitors Centres in BC, at the Gabriola
ferry or at many locations on Gabriola.
Association of Vancouver Island
#203-335 Wesley Street, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2T5
Telephone (250) 754-3500 Fax (250) 754-3599