|Posted by lizardtravel on April 29, 2010 at 1:46 PM|
I'm always surprised that many Victoria locals have yet to visit the stunning Southern Gulf Islands that surround Vancouver Island. I've decided to provide the 'inside scoop' on each location, to help you with your future trip planning:
The largest and most developed of the Southern Gulf Islands, this charming location is expanding quickly but never loses its appeal. I recommend you start your adventure in Ganges, the largest village, where the Visitor Centre can provide you with maps and information on what is offered. There’s just so much to see and do, so you need to make a list if you’re only staying for the day.
My list of local recommendations:
- Mt. Maxwell: for the active traveller you can hike up to the top but there’s also a long, unfinished road that is available for those reaching the top by car (once you’re at the top there are various trails to be explored and the views are worth the effort...we saw bald eagles on our last visit!)
- Biking: roads are narrow and there are many hills, but you’ll find that Salt Spring Island is popular with the cycling crowd! After a long bike-ride you can go camping in Ruckle Provincial Park, located in a large expansive area that overlooks the Pacific Ocean! For those interested in hidden treasure, I know there’s a box of goodies at the top of the trail that leads south out of the camp-site (under a large rock that overlooks the water). Send me an email if you find it!
- Salt Spring Island Cheese Company: hidden in the forest off a windy road near Fulfurd Harbour, this is a delicious location as you get to sample hand-made goat and sheep cheese! On site you’ll get to learn how the cheese is made through their interactive viewing windows that overlook the staff that are producing the product. For the animal-lovers, you can make friends with the goats and chicken that roam freely in the surrounding farmland. Say hi to Nestor (the friendly goat) when you’re there!
- ‘The Bread Lady’:I don’t even know the actual name of the bread company on Salt Spring Island, but if you ask any local where ‘the bread lady’ is – you’ll be happy you did! Be aware that she is only open on restricted days, so ask in advance if you’re planning a specific visit.
One of the quieter islands, a perfect location if you’re hoping to get a little R&R. For a weekend of pampering I recommend Poet’s Cove Resort and Spa, nestled in a private cove, this facility is unique, as every room offers an unbridled view of the Pacific Ocean. I personally would opt for the cottage instead of a lodge room, as many of the cottages have outdoor hot-tubs and BBQs! You can also check out the local art studios, sample wine at Morning Bay Vineyard or take up a game of disc golf!
Photo: Cottage at Poet's Cove Resort and Spa
One of the more remote Southern Gulf Islands, but I highly recommend a visit to this tranquil location! Back in the1900s, the distance between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland was too far, and Mayne Island was utilized as a stopping point between the two locations. The central village on the island is Miner’sBay (2 minutes from the ferry terminal), and this area is characteristically known for their selection of heritage buildings: Springwater Lodge (oldest hotel in British Columbia, 1895), Argricultural Hall (1900), St.Mary Magdelene Church (1887), Georgia Lighthouse(1885), and the Plumber’s Pass (1896).
If you enjoy camping, you’ll take pleasure in the outdoor showers (Mayne Island Eco-Camping) that have been built into the trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Water pours out of a pipe that runs up the trunk of a massive, ancient tree and a wooden platform has been built into the thick forest brush so that you can see out, but people can’t see in...and yes, the shower actually has warm water! While visiting the island I also recommend a visit to the Japanese Gardens, and if you keep an eye out you should see some llamas roaming in some of the farmland nearby!
Photo: Mayne Island outdoor tree shower at Mayne Island Eco-Camping.
I recommend a visit to this island if you are interested in wildlife and photography, or those specifically interested in bird watching. Galiano Island is a major flight path for migrating birds, so you'll see hundreds of bird species, including but not limited to bald eagles, herons, commorants and raptors. Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park (white shell beachs) and Dionisio Point Provincial Park (sculpted sandstone formations) are the natural highlights on the island.
On the western side of the island, I recommend you explore the series of sandstone caves!
Photo: Sandstove Cave - Galiano Island.
A very small island with a permanent population of around 350 people, this island is truly unique as half of the island is designated as a Gulf Island Natural Park Reserve. A couple of fun things to check out when visit Saturna include:
- Russell Reef (natural swimming hole)
- East Pointe Regional Park (stunning shorelines)
- Mount Warburton Pike (one of the highest summits of the Gulf Islands)
- Brown Ridge Trail (stunning views!)
The above list represents that Gulf Islands that are in close proximity to Victoria, but I do recommend you also check out the Southern Gulf Islands closer to Nanaimo and beyond (ex. Gabriola, Thetis, Kuper, Valdes, New Castle and more).
Hopefully this summary has inspired you to explore one or all of the Southern Gulf Islands!
To book your own private, group trip to one of the above mentioned islands - give us a call or email:
250-891-6881 or info@LizardAdventureTravel.com