The Getaway
Galiano Island is Awesome

Galiano Island, one of Canada's Southern Gulf Islands, is a serene and picturesque destination that's bursting with charm. Rent a kayak and explore its rugged coastline, beautiful sandy beaches, and secret coves. You can also indulge your foodie side with a trip to world-renowned Pilgrimme, a magical food experience in a fairy tale setting. Another option is sitting on the porch of your cozy cabin or B&B and immersing yourself in exquisite nature.

You're sure to fall under Galiano Island's spell as you discover thrilling outdoor activities, vibrant local culture, and incredible natural beauty everywhere you look.

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01 Kayaking adventures

Silhouette of senior man kayaking off Galiano Island with brilliant sunset over the ocean. British Columbia, Canada.

Consider renting a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe to take advantage of island life. You can rent a craft from Gulf Island Kayaking and begin exploring the beautiful bays and coves of the island at your leisure.

For a low-key day of paddling, head to Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park, where you can discover a gorgeous coastline with rocky shores and peaceful sheltered coves. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, seals, sea lions, and river otters. If you're a seasoned kayaker, think about taking on Active Pass, the strait between Galiano Island and Mayne Island. It's home to a diverse range of wildlife and is known for strong currents.

Why not join a guided kayaking tour? Gulf Island Kayaking offers rentals and has decades of experience running incredible tours around Galiano Island and the sheltered waters of Trincomali Channel. Employees have a knack for spotting wildlife and offer a wealth of local knowledge to give you a kayak adventure you'll never forget.

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02 Cozy cabin stays

Panoramic View of a Cosy Homes on the rocky coast during a sunny summer day. Taken on Galiano Island near Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

What better way to enjoy this cozy little island than with a magical stay in your own cabin? It's easy to find the rustic retreat of your cottagecore dreams, but there are also some great options for those who prefer a more luxurious stay.

Spend your days relaxing in your very own shore-side gazebo at Seastar Cottage, a two-bedroom property with amazing waterfront views and all the modern conveniences you could want. Another option is the Azami cottage, found in the arts and crafts community in the island's center, where you can get back to nature by picking fruits and veggies from your wrap-around garden.

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03 Culinary delights at Pilgrimme

A glowing log cabin appears in the forest like something from a fairy tale, and you know you're in for a magical evening.

A trip to Galiano Island gives you the perfect excuse to visit Pilgrimme Restaurant. This "coast, forest, and farm-to-table" eatery is a mainstay of many "best" lists, and it's easy to understand why.

The menu changes with the seasons, setting the scene for an exciting culinary experience time and time again. Book a reservation on Pilgrimme's website to secure your spot at this phenomenal restaurant.

04 Morning delights at Oxeye Cafe

Galiano Island Books is a bookworm's delight. The independent bookstore offers an extensive range of both fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on writing by locals and those throughout Canada. It includes a Rare Book Room, where you can find signed, rare, and first-edition works. Explore various other sections, such as Indigenous Writing and a great selection for children and young adults.

The bookstore has been a local fixture for more than two decades. You'll always receive a warm welcome and all the book recommendations you could ask for. Over the years, Galiano Island Books has become a much-loved community hub, hosting a range of events and workshops, as well as book signings and readings throughout the year.

05 Exploring local bookstores

Galiano Island Books is a bookworm's delight. An independent but globally connected bookstore, the shop offers an extensive range of both fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on local and BC-focused writing. It includes a Rare Book Room where you can find signed, rare, and first edition works, as well as sections such as Indigenous Writing and a great selection for children and young adults.

The bookstore has been a local fixture for almost 25 years, where you'll receive a warm welcome and all the book recommendations you could ask for. Over the years, Galiano Island Books has become a much-loved community hub, hosting a range of community events and workshops, as well as book signings and readings, across the year.

06 Tea time at the post office

The Loose Leaf Tea and Papery is a quaint and charming place that combines a tea shop and artisan goods seller with Galiano's local post office.

If you're a tea fan, you'll love browsing their carefully curated collection. Find a new favorite blend from the local specialties or take some samples home as the perfect gift for the tea lover in your life. Its beautiful selection of artisan crafts and works of art make equally excellent mementos or gifts from your time on this wonderful island.

07 Beach walks and sandstone explorations

Galiano Island has a range of beautiful beaches, from heavenly sand to wild and rocky shores. You can spend days just swimming, sunbathing, and wandering the coastline.

Some of the beaches are a little harder to access than others, which is one of the many great reasons to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard for your trip. Several of the island's most remote beaches and coves are only accessible by water and feel like real hidden gems. While making your way around the island, keep an eye out for car parking spots and trailheads, which can clue you into nearby concealed beaches you might otherwise have missed.

Strange and stunning sandstone caves can be found dotted throughout the island. Dionisio Point Provincial Park on the northwest of the island includes incredible sculpted sandstone shelves. Try visiting early in the morning or at sunset when the light makes the formations appear even more otherworldly and sets the scene for breathtaking photographs.

08 Hiking Bodega Ridge

Wander shady Douglas fir forests before emerging onto dramatic cliff tops, where you'll find breathtaking views of the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver Islands, and the Trincomali Channel. The Bodega Ridge trail is typically considered a moderately difficult hike that will likely take you more than two hours to complete. The pathways are well-maintained, but you'll need to be careful as you'll likely come across some slippery slopes, drop-offs, and loose rocks along the way. Rest assured, the stunning views are well worth the effort.

In addition to the awesome views, the cliffs are home to many species of incredible birds, including turkey vultures, soaring peregrine falcons, and majestic bald eagles. While you won't have to worry about cougars, coyotes, or bears on Galiano Island, you'll probably see plenty of shy mammals in the forested areas. You may spot a raccoon, deer, or even a wild mink during your hike. There's beautiful plant life everywhere, which can include rattlesnake wood, arbutus trees, and a variety of moss and ferns, depending on the time of year you visit.

09 Discovering the Galiano Island caves

Natural beauty from sandstone cave (sea to sky cave) in the bay of Retreat Cove, Galiano Island, BC

In addition to its striking sandstone cliffs and formations, Galiano Island has several incredibly beautiful caves carved into its coastline. A particularly stunning example is found at Retreat Cove. This is a lovely spot at Galiano's midpoint, filled with remarkable rock formations and its magical hidden sandstone cave.

Traveling in from the road takes you through private property, which isn't recommended. However, you can reach Retreat Cove via the water or approach the coastline through public roads, then continue to the rock formations by walking along the foreshore (the public land that stretches between the ocean's low and high watermarks).

The best time to visit the island's caves is usually during low tide. This will allow you to safely access them and give you a chance to see their full beauty while exploring to your heart's content. Visiting during the off-season can also enhance the magic, as you're more likely to have the caves to yourself, bathed in soft warm fall light or the stark beauty of winter. Just make sure to take full safety precautions, such as telling someone where you'll be at all times and/or bringing someone with you.

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10 Dionisio Point Provincial Park

Accessible by boat only, Dionisio Point Provincial Park has a unique unspoiled feel to it. Its rocky, rugged shoreline makes for gorgeous, moody photos, but Dionisio Point also boasts several lovely sandy beaches that are perfect for sunbathing and swimming in the summer.

From the dramatic shore, you can continue inland to a selection of hiking trails that take you past impressive rocky bluffs and into tranquil coastal forests. You may find a day just simply isn't long enough to soak up the sights and peaceful atmosphere of this beautiful place, so why not pack your tent? While there are no official campsites, the shoreline has designated areas you can pitch on. You'll have to pay fees to camp overnight, but it will certainly be worth it for the experience.

Dionisio Point Park sits right at the northeastern tip of Galiano Island. Try to plan your visit so that you arrive and leave during high tide, if possible. This will make it a lot easier to navigate the shoreline and get safely into and out of the park. The park is open year-round, but make sure to check the website before planning your trip to view any current advisories.

Whether you visit for a day or take the opportunity to camp in this special place, take all your trash with you for the safety and cleanliness of the park, the other visitors, and the plants and wildlife who call Dionisio Point Park home.

11 Water activities beyond kayaking

Sunset at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Galiano Island has some excellent swimming spots, particularly on its west coast. If you only have one swimming day in your itinerary, spend it at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park. You'll find a pristine sandy beach surrounded by impressive scenery and calm waters, safe for swimmers of almost any skill level. If you're keen on more swim days and want to mix it up in terms of scenery, Pebble Beach and Morning Beach are also worth a visit.

Galiano Island is another ideal place for scuba diving, with several great spots for an awesome and exciting dive. At Porlier Pass, the channel that separates Galiano Island from Valdes Island, you'll find the likes of rockfish, plumrose, basket stars, kelp, anemones, and wolf eels.

The best time to visit for diving visibility tends to be between October and March, but this can vary thanks to the unpredictability of factors such as unexpected river run-off or plankton blooms.

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12 Dining beyond Pilgrimme

In addition to Pilgrimme, the jewel in Galiano Island's dining crown, there is a phenomenal variety of dining options on the island. Atrevida Restaurant, which is located at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa, is an amazing setting for dinner, offering breathtaking oceanfront views to give you a taste of the beauty you can expect to see during the rest of your trip. Delicious modern West Coast food offers an experience any foodie would adore. Hours may change by season, so visit the website before your trip to make a reservation and determine the schedule.

Bodega Ridge Resort is another wonderful pick for both delicious meals and stunning views, while the Hummingbird Pub & Restaurant is a local favorite for excellent food options ranging from tiger prawns to burgers and fries. For European-inspired dishes, try the Woodstone Restaurant & Patio. The menu consists of locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Dine al fresco on the tranquil patio, which includes a cozy fireplace.

If you want to do a little cooking, be sure to swing by the Daystar Market. This gourmet grocery store offers an excellent array of fresh produce, incredible cheese, mouth-watering chocolate, and everything you'll need to make a fabulous meal and decadent dessert.

13 Accommodation options

In addition to its delightful array of cozy cabins, Galiano Island can offer you everything from high-end resorts and oceanfront inns to spas and welcoming bed and breakfasts.

Struggling to choose a place to stay? Think about the type of activities you'll spend most of your time doing. If you're looking forward to a tranquil beach experience, a spot near Montague Harbour may be your best bet. The village area and near Sturdies Bay will be good choices if you want to be near great dining options and local amenities. Keep in mind that if you're staying for an extended time, you can always book reservations at several types of accommodations to experience a little of everything.

If you're visiting during the high season (June to August), book your accommodations as far as possible in advance to ensure you snap up your preferred options. You may find your choices are cheaper and more flexible if you stay during a quieter time of year. Galiano Island is a beautiful place, so anywhere you stay will offer incredible views, delicious food, and a welcoming atmosphere.

14 Getting to and around Galiano Island

You can get to Galiano on a ferry from Tsawwassen on the mainland or Swartz Bay near Victoria on Vancouver Island. Another option is taking a floatplane from Downtown Vancouver or Vancouver International Airport on the mainland or Victoria International Airport on Vancouver Island.

Bringing your car on the ferry and using it to get around Galiano Island is an option if you want to enjoy scenic rides. Just remember to look out for deer! Additionally, you can rent a moped or eBike for an adventure on two wheels or put on high-visibility clothing and go for a bike ride.

You can also get to Galiano Island by boat, mooring at Montague Harbour Marina, Whaler Bay, and Sturdies Bay, among others.

A community bus runs at certain times in the week from April to September. During the summer, you can get a shuttle bus between the Hummingbird Pub, Montague Marine Park, and the Marina. The Galiano Island website can provide you with relevant information.

15 Exploring Galiano Island's natural reserves

Galiano Island is a nature-lovers paradise, with several protected areas and reserves that are home to diverse habitats and ecosystems. This includes the Bluffs Nature Protection area, consisting of about 342 acres of gorgeous landscape. You'll surely also want to visit the Galiano Island Ecological Reserve to take a hike and view the scenery and wildlife.

If you'd like to learn more about or get involved with the myriad conservation efforts and projects, head to the Millard Learning Centre of the Galiano Conservancy Association. This educational hub is open year-round and provides an opportunity to learn about the island's fragile ecosystems and the sustainability initiatives to protect them. The team also runs guided tours and workshops for a more hands-on approach to conservation.

You'll have to sacrifice a morning or two if you want to catch a view of many types of wildlife, as your chances are much higher if you head out early. Tread carefully, act responsibly, and be sure to leave nothing behind when exploring these wild areas. For the animals and plants you're visiting, this is their home, and it must be protected. Besides, if you're quiet, calm, and careful, you'll also have a much better chance to see the island's shy animal inhabitants!

Trees on the trail towards The Bluffs Park Julian Worker / Shutterstock.com
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