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Destination Guide to an Adventurous Weekend on the Gulf Islands

The Yervana Staycation Series is your guide to staying local but keeping your travel spirits high! Throughout this series we will be bringing you staycation inspiration, guides to must-see destinations in Alberta and BC, road trip and weekend itineraries to help you plan, and chances for you to win a staycation of your own!

Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend get-a-way or plan to sit back and explore for a while – the Gulf Islands off the coast of BC might just be the perfect place to start! Find adventures on land and in the sea, discover the nature, indulge in the drink and culinary scene, shop the boutiques, stay in quirky accommodations, and visit incredibly Instagrammable beaches.

There are 200 Gulf Islands located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s mainland, made up of habited islands, such as Mayne, Gabriola, Pender, and Salt Spring, and small islets and reef areas. The largest is Salt Spring, famed for its wildlife, nature, coastal activities, and artisan producers.

Take a long weekend to unwind this summer and discover some of these hidden coastal gems!

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Gulf Islands to Visit

With so many to choose from, we thought we’d narrow down your list to four islands that are favourited by nature-lovers and adventure-seekers alike!

1. Mayne Island: Great for Nature Seekers
Mayne Island is home to stunning Island landscape of bays, valleys and high rock bluffs. It is also located at the center of the coastal dry belt which means the Island averages only 84cm of rain a year (compared to 235cm in Vancouver!). A visit to Mayne Island wouldn’t be complete without visiting the historic Georgina Point Lighthouse, this 13.7m tall lighthouse has been guiding ships through Active Pass since 1885!

2. Gabriola Island: For the Art Lovers & Cyclists
Whether you’re an artist, cyclist, or nature-lover – Gabriola will have something to captivate you.

Gabriola is popular with cyclists because of its 30-kilometer island circle and because it is exceptionally rich in wildlife, with over 250 species to view. Its reefs also provide some of the greatest marine life diving around the coast of British Columbia. You can also explore the 100 or so petroglyphs etched into the sandstone rock walls, which date back over 3,000 years.

3. Pender Island: Hikers Haven
North and South Pender are connected by a short wooden trestle bridge and provide roughly 67 routes, some of which are hard but brief, such as the ascent to Mount Norman’s 244m peak. It boasts the most public beach access points of any island, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities. Orcas are frequently seen in the archipelago, and Thieves Bay in Swanson Channel is one of the greatest places to see them.

4. Salt Spring Island: Artisan Markets & Adventures Off Land!
The largest of the Gulf Islands is Salt Spring. Here you’ll find plenty of wildlife, nature, coastal activities, and artisan producers to explore. Salt Spring Island is a perfect place to get off the beaten path while hiking, exploring the ocean coastline and neighbouring isles, and wildlife viewing!

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Bioluminescence Paddle Adventure on Salt Spring Island

Top Adventures to Embark on from Salt Spring Island

1. Discover the Bioluminescence Sea Creatures

Did you know that Salt Spring Island is home to millions of bioluminescences creatures!? Paddle through a sea of stars on a dusk to dark adventure. Watch the beautiful emerald glow from the bow of your kayak and paddle as you glide along serene waters. This natural phenomenon is sure to leave a lasting impression!

Private Boat Charter in the Southern Gulf Islands on Salt Spring Island

2. Spend the Day Island Hopping

Zip around the Gulf Islands stopping at various remote docks to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch, search the waters for whales and marine wildlife or do a historical circumnavigation for Salt Spring Island. 

Marine Wildlife Tour on Salt Spring Island

3. Spot the Native Marine Wildlife

Spot the varied marine wildlife that call the Salish Sea home. Travel to Mayne and Saturna Islands, and around the nearby smaller Islands while searching for wildlife such as bald eagles, seals, porpoise, sealions, orcas, or Humpback whales! Yervana Local, Zoe, will also teach you first-hand about endangered species and ecosystems in a region that is facing growing conservation concerns.

Gulf Islands Explorer 4 day Kayak Tour from Salt Spring Island

4. Kayak Camp Your Way Around the Islands

What better way to tour the gulf islands than by kayak! Make this summer one for the books by embarking on a 4-day kayak camping, island hopping adventure! Your guide will lead to some of the most beautiful camping and paddling destinations in British Columbia. You might even forget that you’re in BC when you take in the stunning white shell beaches, amazing sandstone formations, abundant marine wildlife, and a Mediterranean-like climate in protected waters that make the Southern Gulf Islands a world-class kayaking destination.

How to Get There
Whether you’re travelling from the mainland or Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands are very accessible via BC Ferries or Float Plane.

Ready to explore the Gulf Islands?
Tag us in your Island adventures on Instagram with #yervana or @myyervana for a chance to be featured on our social pages!

Where to next?
Thinking of doing a little exploring in British Columbia? The Gulf Islands are close to other popular destinations in the province, including Vancouver Island, Squamish, and Vancouver.

SALT SPRING ISLAND, BC

Goin' for a Rip!
from $100 per explorer

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SALT SPRING ISLAND, BC

Full Moon Paddle
from $77 per explorer

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SALT SPRING ISLAND, BC

Whale Watching Tour
from $132 per explorer

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