Last Updated on June 21, 2022
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, and stayed in an adorable cobb earth house. We were amazed by the scenery. Soon after that trip, we were researching the other island options. We found some great unique accommodation on Galiano Island and we knew that would be our next stop.
About Galiano Island
Only a short hour-long ferry ride from the mainland, Galiano Island in BC is a surprisingly 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), and no chain hotels or restaurants. While hiking, even on a weekend, it is highly possible that you will not cross paths with very many people.
Table Of Contents
- About Galiano Island
- How To Get To Galiano Island
- How To Get Around Galiano Island
- A Rustic Cabin In The Woods On Galiano
- Unexpected Friends
- Bellhouse Provincial Park
- Hiking On Galiano Island
- Galiano Sandstone Caves
- Wildlife On Galiano
- Pebble Beach
- Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park
- White Shell Beach
- Morning Beach
How To Get To Galiano Island
The most popular way to get to Galiano Island is by taking a Galiano Island ferry.
You can drive, walk, or bring your bike onto the BC Ferry from the Tsawwassen terminal. Usually, Galiano Island is the first ferry stop on route to the islands and takes a 50-minute ride. During the busy summer months, there can be up to four sailings a day. During the off-season, there are only two sailings a day. You are able to reserve a ferry to make sure you catch the one you want.
From Victoria on Vancouver Island, you can get to Galiano Island from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Some sailings are direct and some have several stops among the islands. A direct ferry takes one hour and ten minutes. Keep in mind that the sailings to and from Victoria to Galiano Island are not reservable, so arrive early, especially during the summer months.
There is also an “airport” located in Montague Harbour for floatplanes. There are planes that arrive on regular scheduled and chartered service from Vancouver International Airport, Downtown Vancouver and Seattle (Lake Union).
How To Get Around Galiano Island
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 on the Galiano island ferry. A large number of people took their bikes across.
Here are the best things to do on Galiano Island:
A Rustic Cabin In The Woods On Galiano
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.
If you are looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this rustic cabin in the woods is the perfect option. There is something about being surrounded by nature that instantly makes you feel more relaxed and at peace. Plus, there is no need to worry about cell service or WiFi when you are out in the middle of nowhere. Whether you are looking to read a good book, go for hikes, or just spend time with family and friends, this rustic cabin is a perfect place to do it.
We even made a friend at the cabin that we did not quite expect, “Buddy”, the red-legged frog. Buddy would always be hanging out in the shower each time we wanted to use it and we would fall asleep and woke up to his music. Shooing him gently out of the shower once without closing the cabin door even led 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.
The frog was always there and seeing it became sort of a fixture in our daily routine. It was like having a pet, except that we did not have to feed it or take care of it. He was our little buddy, and we were sad when it was time to leave him behind.
Bellhouse Provincial Park
It is fascinating to spend a day searching for starfish and other creatures from under the sea in tidal pools when they get temporarily left behind as the tide goes out. Bellhouse Park was a fantastic place to find endless starfish when the tide was out.
Bellhouse Park is also said to be a fabulous place to sit and whale watch. We gave it a shot, but we were not graced with the presence of any whales while we were there. But, that is just our luck.
Hiking On Galiano Island
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.
Related Story – Mount Galiano Hike – Dreamy Gulf Island Views
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.
Related Story – A Bird’s Eye View From Galiano Island
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.
Galiano Sandstone Caves
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!
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock that forms from layers of sand that have been compacted over time. As you explore a sandstone cave, you can see the different layers of sand that have been deposited over the centuries. In some cases, these layers can be quite thin, while in others they may be several feet thick. Studying the layers of sandstone can give us clues about the history of the area and the climate that existed when the rock was formed. Exploring a sandstone cave is a fascinating way to learn about geology and ecology, and it can also be a lot of fun.
Wildlife On Galiano
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 moving 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 in 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 like 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.
One of the island’s most popular attractions is Pebble Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand that is perfect for picnicking, swimming, and simply taking in the stunning view. The beach gets its name from the smooth, round pebbles that line the shore, and it is truly a sight to behold. It is no wonder Pebble Beach is one of the most popular destinations on Galiano Island.
The trailhead just around the corner from the rustic cabin in the woods, Pebble beach was a quick jaunt to be by the ocean. It was about a 20-minute walk from the trailhead. When the tide is in, you can hear the roar of the waves crashing as you approached the end of the trail. 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.
The park features a variety of hiking trails, picnic areas, and beach access points. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, swimming, and fishing in the sheltered waters of the harbour. Wildlife watching is also a popular pastime at the park, as seals, otters, and bald eagles are often seen in the area. Whether you are looking for a quiet place to relax or an adventurous day out, Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park has something to offer everyone.
White Shell Beach
We loved the views at White Shell Beach in Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park.
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.
Morning Beach on Galiano Island is the perfect place to spend a day relaxing and exploring. The soft sand is perfect for squishing your toes in, and the gentle waves make for a peaceful soundscape. The beach is also dotted with driftwood, which makes for great photo opportunities.
It was a fabulous weekend away exploring the beauty of British Columbia, Galiano Island is a real gem.
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