Map of the Southern Gulf Islands, BC, Canada

Information on the Gulf Islands and Discovery Islands

Southern Gulf Islands

There are seven major islands in the southern half of the Strait of Georgia. Among them, Galiano Island has always enjoyed the reputation of being the most welcoming to visitors. This is due in large part to the limited amount of farmland on Galiano in comparison to other islands. Of necessity, early settlers here opened their homes to tourists as a way of earning a living.

Today, Galiano is a hub for sea-kayak trips and the site of the Montague Harbour Provincial Marine park, one of the largest provincial marine parks on any of the islands. This isn’t to say that residents of the other islands won’t be just as pleased to see you disembark at the dock. Indeed, tourism is important to the livelihood and economic well-being of most of the Gulf Islands, although some are better prepared for it than others.

Decide in advance which island suits your purposes best, then consult a BC Ferries schedule to see if you can manage the connections in the course of a day’s visit or whether you’ll have to seek overnight accommodation. Except in summer months, ferry service to many islands is restricted to one or two sailings a day. You may find that in order to catch a ride you’ll have to start your day well before dawn and return home late in the evening. The trade-off is that you’ll find far fewer visitors sharing the roads, waterways and parks with you as you travel at off-peak times.

Northern Gulf Islands and Discovery Islands

These islands, part of a chain of 6,000 islands that shelter the British Columbia coastline between Washington and Alaska, lie beyond the quick-access range of Vancouver and Victoria. The fleet of BC Ferries that services them is not as large nor are the sailings as frequent. Others can only be reached by private transportation such as water taxis, kayaks, canoes, or powerboats and occasionally airplanes. Visitors will find that the further north in the Strait of Georgia that they explore, the fewer fellow travellers they’ll encounter.

The wonderful silence that envelops these islands is characteristic of the ambience in remote central coast locales. It wasn’t always this way. In the heyday of fishing and logging camps, the population on the more isolated islands was surprisingly higher than it is today. Evidence of this can be seen in the abandoned cabins, ancient villages, and overgrown logging roads. Explore by car, kayak, mountain bike or on foot. Find a location that appeals to you, and within this microcosm, experience the wonder and magic that pervades life here.