Soak Up Victoria, BC’s Island Life this Summer
Do you remember as a kid playing “the floor is lava” or “swamp monster” and you’d try to hop from one piece of furniture to the next without touching the floor? It was always an epic challenge to see how many pieces of furniture you could touch. The game usually ended when someone tried to leap a bit too far and ended up falling to the floor where they were inevitably swallowed by lava or the swamp monster.
Well, we have the adult version minus the child-eating monsters, although we do have some beautiful whales in our ocean. When you visit Victoria, not only will you have the opportunity to enjoy the wealth of natural beauty, art, and adventure in Victoria, but there is also a plethora of activities available to explore on the Gulf Islands. Just like playing “swamp monster,” you can see how many islands you can visit while you’re here.
Located between Vancouver Island and the mainland, these sheltered waters create the perfect conditions for sailing, scuba diving, and fishing. As well, their beaches provide picturesque places to relax on the sand or go for a swim.
Surrounded by natural beauty and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, these islands are a haven for artists of all mediums, such as painters, sculptors, writers, and performers.
Ranked by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top coastal destinations in the world, they are just a quick hop or two away from Victoria.
Normally, one of the quietest of the Gulf Islands, Denman is the place to visit if peace and serenity are your pace. However, there are some activities happening you won’t want to miss.
If you visit in the spring, be sure to check out their Home and Garden tours.
Then, between May 6 to 14 is the Denman Island Baroque Music Workshop and Festival; followed by the Denman Readers and Writers Festival in July.
Gabriola Island is known for it’s petroglyphs, which are engraved pictures that were carved into rock formations by ancient First Nations people. It’s also known for the Malaspina Galleries, which is a large rock formation that looks like a giant wave frozen in stone just before it crashes down.
As with the other islands, enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, art galleries, private studios, plays and festivals, and spa therapies.
Despite being the closest island to Victoria, Galiano is one of the more rural Gulf Islands. And with 69 access points to the water, it is relatively easy to find a spot to yourself.
Along with swimming and sunbathing, there are a multitude of activities you can engage in such as fishing, kayaking, whale watching, hiking, festivals, art shows, golf, and fiestas. You’ll also want to check out the fresh produce they have to offer from local organic farms.
In the middle of the Salish Sea, Hornby Island is one of the smaller islands. There are century-old farms, sandy beaches, and forests filled with hiking trails. Along with kayaking, fishing, sight-seeing, mountain biking, and yoga, pristine waters create an optimal place to go diving.
If you get the opportunity, check out the Hornby festival in August featuring music, dance, and art.
In addition to the usual Gulf Islands activities, there are picnic grounds, putting greens, and a paved road that you can cycle around the entire island.
Two spots you’ll want to hit if you come to Mayne Island are Meadowmist Farms to visit with the sheep and goats and the Japanese garden memorial.
The Pender Islands are actually made up of North and South Pender Islands which used to be connected by a canal or isthmus until it was dredged in the early 1900’s. Now the two islands are connected by a one-lane bridge.
As with the other islands, there are a multitude of activities to take part in. In addition, there is a 9-hole golf course, Pender Island Golf and Country Club, and a 27-hole Frisbee-golf course at the Golf Islands Disc Park. Then, if you have your own equipment, be sure to check out the underwater caves off Tilly Point.
On July 1st join Pender Island for their Annual Boat Festival. Or in August, take in the Pender Fall Fair.
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is the most populated and well-known of the Gulf Islands. On high-season Saturdays they have an open-air market at the town centre filled with crafts, artwork, and produce. It’s important to note that everything available is either grown, made, or forged on Salt Spring Island.
Visitors can enjoy hiking, kayaking, golfing, cycling, swimming, birding, and beach combing. You can also check out their spas, arts, music, and performing arts.
Half of this island was declared a national park in 2003 which provides a great opportunity for wildlife watching and photography. In addition, many species of birds migrate here during the winter months, so if you’re a birder, this is a must-place to visit.
Saturna Island is one of the most remote and crowd-free of the southern Gulf Islands and tends to entice visitors who appreciate its peace and natural beauty. The spectacular shoreline and lack of crowds make their beaches an ideal place to explore and go beach combing.
And if it’s peace and tranquility you seek, The Lodge at Weir’s Beach is a great place to use as your base as you hop around and explore the BC Gulf Islands.
The Gulf Islands are all about quiet, rejuvenation, and creativity and the Lodge at Weir’s Beach fits right in. With warm, sun-lit rooms, ocean views, private decks and terraces, and a yoga studio, you’ll find it’s the ideal place to relax and restore your mind, body, and soul.