My sister and I aspire to visit at least one new island off of mainland Vancouver each year. We love having a sister trip where we can relax and explore a little bit more of our slice of heaven we have in beautiful British Columbia. Our BC adventure goal started last summer when we visited Mayne Island, stayed in an adorable cobb earth house. We were amazed by the scenery. Soon after that trip, we were researching the other island options and found some great unique accommodation on Galiano Island and we knew that would be our next stop.
Only a short hour-long ferry ride from the mainland, Galiano Island is a suprisingly peaceful place. It is a laid back 17 mile island that is known for quiet beaches, hiking, old-growth forests and wildlife. Galiano Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands located between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
There are few shopping options, no major attractions (besides the natural beauty), no chain hotels or restaurants. While we were hiking, even on a weekend, we did not cross paths with very many people.
You can drive, walk, or bring your bike onto the BC Ferry from the Tsawwassen terminal. There is no public transit on Galiano Island, so you will need to figure out how you plan to get around. We took a car across on the ferry. A large amount of people took their bikes across.
The Cutest Rustic Cabin In The Woods On Galiano Island
We love unique accommodations, so when we saw this rustic cabin in the woods, we knew it would be a rad place to stay. It was definitely rustic and even had the nice touch of a simple outdoor shower. A shower on a warm day outside is absolutely heavenly. It was peaceful, and nice and quiet as we were surrounded by a great amount of forest. It was a cute little cabin, just big enough for the both of us to have our own space. An outhouse was a few steps away from the cabin as well.
We even made a friend at the cabin that we did not quite expect. We decided to call him “Buddy”, the red-legged frog. We found Buddy in the shower each time we were going for a refresh. Shooing him gently out of the shower once without closing the cabin door even lead to an adventure for Buddy, hopping around the inside of the cabin. I never thought frogs could show emotion, but I was proven wrong, as each time we gently shooed Buddy out of the shower, he definitely looked annoyed. He would return soon after our showers were finished and we laughed when we heard the echo of his “ribbit! ribbit!”, that announced his arrival.
Bellhouse Provincial Park
We could seriously spend all day searching for starfish and through tidal pools for whatever ocean gems that get temporarily left behind as the tide goes out. Bellhouse Park was a fantastic place to find endless starfish when the tide was out. Seriously guys, why am I so in love with starfish?
Bellhouse Park is also supposed to be a fabulous place to sit and whale watch. We gave it a shot, but we weren’t graced with the presence of any whales while we were there. But, that is just our luck.
Researching Galiano Island, we knew that we wanted to do a lot of hiking. It is a great hiking destination, with breathtaking scenery all around. We love being outdoors and when the view is such a spectacular reward, on top of hiking through gorgeous old-growth forest, it makes the hiking that much sweeter.
Our favourite views were at the top of Mount Galiano, Bluffs Park and Bodega Ridge.
Mount Galiano is a 3.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail. From the top of Mount Galiano, you can see some of the other southern Gulf Islands. It is breathtaking. We again had the place to ourselves for an hour. We started our morning off nice and early to do this hike; earlier is always the best. One person passed us on the way up, racing up with his pup and turned right around after reaching the top. We saw it getting increasingly busier as we made our way down. On our way down I also met a small baby garter snake friend that was no bigger than a pencil. On our way up, there was a woodpecker that kept on putting on a show on a fallen log.
We also noticed another trail right by the Mount Galiano trailhead, called Collinson Point. It was a 1.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail. Collinson Point Provincial Park is essentially the shoreline of Mount Galiano, where you wander along the forest with peek-a-boo views between the trees of the gorgeous scenery out over the water.
It was a nice wander and had it feeling like Fall with the crunchy leaves beneath our feet, but Collinson Point was nothing compared to being at the top of Mount Galiano. If you had a time crunch and had to choose, pick Mount Galiano.
We decided to hike the trails up to Bluff Park lookout, but you are also able to drive into Bluff Park and continue down the road, parking right by the lookout over Active Pass. Driving up is just a short walk from your vehicle to the lookout. The trail was around a half hour walk, but it was definitely a prettier alternative than driving up a gravel road.
Bodega Ridge Provincial Park
Another gorgeous hike is through Bodega Ridge Provincial Park. It is a 5.8 mile trail that leads you uphill along the top of the bodega ridge, through a forested area, and along the cliff edge. You get a view over Trincomali Channel and as far as Vancouver Island. The forest on the way up is, of course, gorgeous.
I even got a good jump near one of the viewing areas when a full-grown garter snake decided to slither as fast as it could right across the trail in front of me. What was it with snakes slithering out in front of me on this trip? (haha)
Galiano Island possesses some breathtaking geological formations. We were particularly excited to find this sandstone cave at Retreat Cove. We were lucky to have the caves to ourselves for an hour and it was so nice to have some time to relax, dip our toes in the water and catch some rays. My goodness that felt so good!
We were hoping to spot some whales, but as per usual, we were not that lucky. Unless we are on a whale watching trip, the whales always seem to elude our view. One day we will have a spectacular whale sighting that happens by chance.
There is a large amount of deer on Galiano. On one day alone, driving Porlier Pass Road, we counted 16 deer, including some super cute babies. The deer were also obviously on island time as they took their precious time crossing the road, unconcerned that they should be probably move a little faster with the cars passing by.
One of our favourite sightings was a very curious Otter at Pebble Beach around Cable Bay. A day earlier, there was a baby Otter swimming the waters, crying something fierce for its Mama. It was a heartbreaking cry. We thought we would start the next day at Pebble Beach again, to see what it looked at with the tide out since our first visit we found loud crashing waves. Climbing over the sandstone, an Otter appeared and remained curious about us for some time. He scurried towards the water and as we walked along the sandstone, he popped up and down with the waves, following us along the shore until he realized that we really were not that exciting to stalk.
The trailhead just around the corner from our rustic cabin, Pebble beach was a quick janut to be by the ocean. It was about a 20 minute walk from the trailhead. When we arrived the first day, you could hear the roar of the waves crashing as we approached near the end of the trail. When we came back early the next morning, the tide was out and it felt like a different beach.
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is rich in natural and cultural history. We loved the white shell beaches, open meadows and tidal lagoons.
The shoreline trail in Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park, called the Grey Peninsula Loop, is an easy walk through the forest, along the white shell beaches. The hike both starts and finishes near the picnic area parking lot. If the tide is out, you can do what we did, and forgo the trail to wander on the beach instead.
White Shell Beach (Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park)
We loved the views at White Shell Beach. The white shell beach marks one of several refuse heaps that proves the native occupation dating back over 3000 years. Shells left from centuries of harvesting formed berms on the foreshore. The waves erode the refuse heaps, crushing the shells and redepositing them, creating Montague’s white shell beaches. A stunning sight! Galiano was an important seasonal home of Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
We ended our adventure in Galiano with a visit to squish our toes in the pretty soft sand at Morning Beach, with a delicious BBQ Pizza from Babes In The Woods. It went from sunny to overcast and moody between when we arrived and before we were even able to fully devour our pizza. A couple hours later it was raining. We had the perfect timing to end our weekend exploring Galiano.
It was a fabulous weekend away exploring the beauty of British Columbia, to finish our summer during this uncertain time on a high note.
Galiano Island is a real gem. Summer this year was very different than it would have been, but it certainly is still one to remember.