"Galiano Island - my favourite Gulf Island" Galiano Island by Carmanah

Galiano Island Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 47 photos

Galiano Island promotes itself as the "Gem of the Gulf Islands".

Perhaps I'm biased, as I've been to Galiano Island 7 times in my life now, but I've always considered Galiano my favourite Gulf Island. It seems to attract less tourists than other islands, and the locals are notorious for being super protective of undeveloped land. I think that's a large part of the appeal - a lot of Galiano remains forested and untouched, and yet open for the public to discover. By the nature of island living, its residents are acutely aware of their ecological footprints (the impact their lives have on the environment), and therefore being sustainable and eco-friendly on Galiano is a way of life.

My first visit to Galiano Island was in 1987 during my first ever family camping trip. We camped for a few days at Montague Harbour Provincial Park. I remember seeing raccoons at night and wasps fly away with chunks of my sister's BBQ'd salmon dinner.

In 1989 we returned to Galiano, as we were invited to stay with family friends at their "cabin" on the east coast of Galiano along Sticks Allison Road. Their cabin turned out to be a multi-million dollar waterfront A-frame house, complete with a hot tub and a wooden deck leading down to the shore. In 1992 we returned again to stay at the same place. It was truly quite a treat!

In 1994 my dad, sister and myself brought our bikes on board the ferry to visit Galiano Island as a day trip during our spring break. It was the first time for us on the island without a car, but we didn't need it. However, I recently learned that Galiano Island is rated 3.5 out of 5 for cycling difficulty, and in retrospect I can't believe that we cycled all over the southern end of Galiano that day so effortlessly!

Ten years passed before I visited Galiano again. This time I went with friends during their May long weekend camping ritual. It was mostly debauchery, drunkenness and hazy memories, and not much time spent exploring the island, although we did find an excellent road to go longboarding on!

In August 2005 I brought my SO to Galiano after spending 3 nights on North Pender Island. It was our summer vacation together and we just wanted to get away from the city. I really wanted to show him Galiano, as it's so full of nostalgia for me. We rented a room in a cute bed & breakfast called "Island Time", just down the road from the "cabin" I used to stay in as a kid. We relaxed on the beach, explored the waters by boat, and climbed my car up to the Bluffs along a one-lane mountainous dirt road, so steep and so full of potholes, I honestly didn't think we would make it...

... but we did!

And finally, in August 2007, I spent the longest I had ever spent on Galiano Island: one entire week. It doesn't sound like much, but when you consider the island's only 26 km long with a varying width of 1.6 to 4 km, it all begins to make sense. We rented a cabin called Eaglesrealm at the north end of the island and had friends with us for a few days. We hung out at Montague Harbour, biked around Dionisio Point Provincial Park, explored secret lookouts, forested trails, new beaches, and generally had a relaxing time.

Galiano Island is the first stop off the Gulf Islands ferry from Tsawwassen, which makes it really easy to get to from Vancouver. It takes only 40 minutes by ferry. If you're lucky, like we were when we were returning from Galiano in 2005, you may see orcas on your ferry trip. Don't expect it, but the possibility exists.

Galiano Island makes an excellent weekend getaway, or even a day-trip destination from Vancouver. While you can stand on the eastern coast of the island and see the city lights and mountains of Vancouver 30 miles across the Strait of Georgia, on Galiano Island you truly feel like you're a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gorgeous beaches, tidal pools with lots of marine life, archaeology sites, attracts lots of artists and musicians, camping, boating, beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife, lots of quiet locations, sandstone caves, easy access from Vancouver
  • Cons:You're essentially at the mercy of the BC Ferries schedule, and it might not always work with yours. Summer droughts means strict water measures. You must bring all your garbage with you when you leave or pay $7 per bag to have it removed.
  • In a nutshell:The perfect west coast island retreat away from the hustle and bustle
  • Last visit to Galiano Island: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (16)

Comments (4)

  • Darby2's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2007 at 6:46 PM

    I recently tried a bottle of wine from a small estate winery on Galiano...very nice.

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Aug 17, 2007 at 12:36 PM

    Your love of Galiano Island is infectious--it sounds like a special place to visit. Regards from Texas...

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2007 at 3:36 AM

    Really enjoyed your memories from here and your later trip, especially the food!!!!! That lamb dish sounds simply amazing.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2006 at 8:13 AM

    That is a great Intro page you have for this amazing little island! Some great views in your pics and that first restaurant meal really did sound like a feast! I think I could enjoy Galiano myself!

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