Gulf Islands, BC
I’ve spent most of my summers boating through BC's amazing coastline. We would spend our days island hopping, jumping in the icy water to cool off, and hiking along the shorelines. Our Gulf Islands are one of my favourite things about BC and if you have the opportunity, definitely take advantage of getting to see a few of them.
Starting in Montague Harbour, the Crane and Robin is a great pub that always has great food options. It overlooks the bay and its great fun to watch the boats come and go. Galiano is home to the foodie haven Pilgrimme restaurant. This restaurant really is in its own league and if you are looking for a quality food experience in the woods, then this is it. Set in a small cottage style building, this culinary team puts out outstanding dishes that use local ingredients. Dinner is not cheap, but it is a phenomenal experience. My dinner at Pilgrimme goes down in my top ten food experiences ever. At Sturdies Bay (where the ferry is and most of the shops and restaurants), you will find the Hummingbird Pub bus- which always has the music cranked.
Montague Harbour Marina has a wonderful dockside pub that boasts some pretty excellent fish tacos funky frozen cocktails. We often spend our evenings at this pub watching the sun set. If you boated over, you will find a beautiful marina to dock in as well as a calm harbour if you would prefer to anchor.
Galiano is also home to Bodega Ridge. A small, beautiful resort that is home to self-contained log cabins spread along 22 acres. Bodega Ridge hosts many weddings and retreats and is a delightful place to nestle in and unwind. It books up fast, so get your cabin reserved early.
Montague Provincial park also has a little campground that is a perfect place to explore from.
PENDER ISLAND (NORTH & SOUTH)
Pender Island is one of our go to locations in the summer. There is enough to do so you aren’t bored but it’s quiet enough to just sink into the beauty of the island. If you are going to stay overnight, I would recommend grabbing an Airbnb (use my link for a discount if you a new airbnb user) or VRBO. There is also a great place where you can stay in Airstreams! The Woods on Pender has a collection of renovated Airstreams as well as a delicious restaurant. The other place I would recommend staying is the Currents at Otter Bay. These cottages are perfect for families and they have a private marina which works perfectly if you are boating in.
Whenever on Pender, we always stop at Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards. This crew produces some amazing wines that have been making waves across BC wines. They often have a taco truck parked on the property and it is easy to burn a few hours with a bottle in their gardens. Twin Island Cider is just down the road from the winery and is a new player to Pender Island scene. Fortunately, they are fitting right in and producing some amazing cider from the heritage orchard on their property.
Saturna is one of the smaller islands, however it continues to be one of my favourite. I don't anticipate that many people will be able to get there as the ferries are infrequent but I wanted to be sure to include it because it really does offer those that are looking for some true rest a great option. If you mange to get yourself to Saturna, do yourself a favour and get to the East Point Lighthouse Park. My family visits this park at least half a dozen times each summer. Imagine walking through tall grasses filled with wildflowers while overlooking miles and miles of pristine ocean teeming with wildlife. East Point is a well known Orca spotting location and with any luck you may see a few passing by. My favourite part of this park however, is the Petroglyph or pictograph. If you continue walking along the path, up the hill towards the cell tower, you will see the remains of an old pool that was created in the cliff side. Just above that you should be able to see a Petroglyph of a women holding a baby. While this has not been able to be dated officially, most believe it to be remnants of the First Nations that called Saturna home many decades ago.
Saturna is relatively unpopulated and may be the perfect place to rent a small cabin and unplug for a weekend. But be aware, that there really is limited amenities on this island. Wild Time Coffee House is a true representation of the Gulf Island Spirit. This cafe has found its home in a double decker bus. They have delicious coffee and amazing breakfast sandwiches.
SALT SPRING ISLAND
Salt Spring can be almost unbearably busy on the weekends in the summer. However, it’s many craftsmen/craftswomen and little jewels tucked in the hills make up for the craziness. The Salt Spring Island market takes place every Saturday from April to October. The market is a haven for finding all sorts of homemade goodies – think soaps, jewelry, cleaning products, candy, pizza, baked goods, and ice cream). The market is located right in Ganges harbour so if you are arriving by float plan or boat, it is an easy access. If you have a car then you really can unlock all of Salt Spring Island’s treasures! Leaving Ganges harbour, drive along Lower Ganges road. If you are a garden lover, be sure to stop at Foxglove Farm and Garden Supply. It’s lots of fun to wander through the outdoor maze of plants. If you have a car and some time, take a drive up Mt. Maxwell. The views are incredible and in the summer, the drive up is surrounded by wild foxgloves.
I highly recommend that you look at the Salt Spring Studio Tour. This self-guided tour (you'll need a vehicle for most of them) showcases some of the most wonderful artisans on the island. I've listed my favourite below:
This little shop is set high up with a lovely view overlooking their lavender fields. The modern building design is filled with wonderfully scents of not just lavender but a whole host of magic.
This cidery makes its cider from the wild apple and pear trees around Salt Spring Island. It has a beautiful deck and in the summer its a perfect place to sit an enjoy the sunshine.
Salt Spring Island has a few wineries on the island, but Salt Spring Island Vineyards is my perfect. Not only is the wine delicious, the grounds are spectacular. On a summer day, arrive early afternoon armed with a picnic blanket and some snacks. Get yourself a patch of grass and grab a bottle of wine and you've created the perfect island day.
This little gallery is perhaps my favourite on the island. The space rotates through different exhibitions so be sure to check their website or Instagram out. On the property is also an BnB (a restored airstream trailer) and sauna to enjoy. I highly recommend looking into staying here during your visit!