From hiking and kayaking to fishing and diving, adventure seekers will love the variety of outdoor options available on the Gulf Islands. Gear up and hop aboard a ferry or float plane to begin an unforgettable outdoor adventure!
Salt Spring Island
Cruise along the country roads of Salt Spring Island on two wheels and discover beautiful farm land, spectacular viewpoints and vibrant local communities. Either take your bike aboard BC Ferries or rent from Ganges Harbour. Seasoned and new road cyclists can easily find trails to enjoy. Pick up the Island Pathways Heritage Map and learn a little about the island's historical and geological features as you go.
Head to Ruckle Provincial Park for a more challenging cycling experience and explore the coastline, or take a leisurely ride between Ganges and Fulford Harbour past orchards, lakes and farms. Make sure to have cash on you to pick up locally made treats along the way!
*Top tip: Visit for the 17th Annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival on October 2 and cycle between numerous farms selling delicious apple products.
Image: Lony Rockafella
Stop on Galiano Island for hiking and diving adventures. Head out to Bellhouse Provincial Park with stellar views out over Active Pass where it's possible to spot whales from the shore or to Retreat Cove to capture some Instagram-worthy photos of the distinctive sandstone erosion. Find Galiano's tapovan - a forest of spiritual practice - dedicated to Sri Chinmoy, an Indian spiritual leader and advocate of world peace, situated near Portlier Pass.
For diving fans, Dionisio Point Provincial Marine Park is the perfect place to spot local marine flora and fauna in the crystal clear waters. The surrounding coves and beaches including Coon Bay and Porlier Pass between Galiano and Valdes Island teem with marine life from eels and octopus to anemones and sea stars. One of the gems in Porlier Pass is Boscowitz Rock, a kelp-fringed pinnacle that lies only a stone's throw off Race Point.
Image: A look over the Gulf Islands from Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island
Escape to Saturna Island, the furthest of the southern Gulf Islands, and explore on foot or by kayak. More than half of Saturna is protected Gulf Islands National Park land crisscrossed with hiking routes. Take the trail along the Brown Ridge Crest to Mount Warburton Pike, 497-metres above sea level, and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding islands, or walk to East Point Park and wander down to the lighthouse, stopping for a bite to eat above the churning waters of Boiling Reef. Patient whale watchers know this spot is a favourite fishing location for resident orcas from May to November.
Ocean River Kayak Adventures has an outpost on Saturna Island offering kayak rentals and trips including a trip of beautiful spots including Boot Cove and Breezy Bay including a short interpretive walk around the park with a snack.
Image: Evening light on Saturna Island
Completely immerse yourself in nature on the Pender Islands. Hike to Beaumont Marine Park and look out for local wildlife including mink and river otters. If you enjoy fishing, Pender is a popular place to head out with a local guide and find salmon year-round; a guided trip is also a great way to see some more wildlife such dolphins, otters and whales. Swimmers should head to Magic Lake or Roe Lake for a cool dip while divers with their own gear (there is no dive shop on the island) should head for the underwater caves at Tilly Point.
Don't miss the 27-hole Golf Island Disc Park, Pender's disc or Frisbee golf course played on rugged terrain near to Magic Lake.
Image: Sailing through paradise in the Southern Gulf Islands, photo by Reuben Krabbe for Destination BC.
On Mayne Island take in the sights from the land or sea. Rent a stand up paddleboard and cruise the calm waters of Bennett Bay or take out a kayak and discover the Belle Chain Islets situated between Mayne and Saturna Islands, to spot marine wildlife including stellar sea lions, seals, otters and bald eagles.
The island is also extremely popular with cyclists - do the 18 km circuit tour of the island and make stops at Miners Bay for a coffee and snack break then skirt past Georgina Point Road and admire the views. Detour off Mariner's Way for a dip in Piggott Bay, a driftwood lined beach facing Plumper Sound, or head along East West Road to discover the beautiful Japanese Garden at Dinner Bay Park, a memorial to the settlers relocated from Maybe to internment camps during the Second World War.
Image: Cycling the Gulf Islands
If you're planning to visit the Gulf Islands this month, make sure to plan around Salt Spring Island's Harvest Food & Drink Festival on October 14-16, 2016. Previously known as Sip & Savour Salt Spring Festival, the Food & Drink Festival brings together growers, food providers and chefs, local craft brewers and vintners.
Check out our Gulf Islands community page for more information on the islands and a full list of available transportation options.