Galiano Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia, off the west coast of Canada, southwest of Vancouver. Long and slender in shape, it has a broad choice of outdoor pursuits, offering the very best of Canada’s wild west into just sixty square-kilometres. The easiest island to reach from mainland British Columbia, a mere fifty-five minute ferry ride away, it’s an ideal weekend getaway from Vancouver.
Named after an eighteenth century Spanish explorer, Galiano was long populated by the indigenous Penelakut people, with archaeological discoveries suggesting over three thousand years of inhabitation. Today, it is home to thirteen hundred permanent residents, with a thriving tourism industry thanks to the brilliant hiking opportunities, secluded beaches and rich cultural heritage.
The island’s namesake mountain reaches over eleven hundred feet, offering different routes to the summit, lasting either thirty or ninety minutes. After that, you can head to Bodega Ridge, a six kilometre trail affording incredible views across the Strait of Georgia to mainland British Columbia and, on a clear day, the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, USA.
For a more idyll adventure, the one hundred and forty two hectare Dionisio Point Provincial Park, encompassing Galiano’s northern tip, has some family-friendly campsites where you can look out for sea lions, otters and bald eagles. The most popular park, in Montague Harbour, is celebrated for its white-shell beaches, picturesque lagoons and superb anchoring spots, with a number of opulent yachts and sailboats docking here in summer.
A strong artistic community has settled on Galiano Island, with the most iconic artwork found by the Oceanfront Inn & Spa, the Kunamokst Mural; created by almost two hundred artists, it was unveiled for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Festivities come thick and fast, too. Some of the biggest include the Literary Festival in February, the North Island Jamboree on Canada Day, the Wine Festival in mid-August and the Blackberry Festival in October.
Ferries regularly make their way across the Strait of Georgia from Tsawwassen, a small suburb of Vancouver, to Sturdies Bay, the main settlement on Galiano Island, on the southeast coast. The journey lasts under an hour, with twenty sailings provided each week by British Columbia Ferries.