Charmed By Galiano Island : A British Columbia Gem

Ferry watching from The Bluffs

Last Updated on June 16, 2021

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. We found some great unique accommodation on Galiano Island and we knew that would be our next stop.

Painted map of Galiano Island

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), no chain hotels or restaurants. While we were hiking, even on a weekend, we did not cross paths with very many people.

Here’s a list of the best things to do on Galiano Island.

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. There are several sailings. Some 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 across on the Galiano island ferry. A large number of people took their bikes across.

A Rustic Cabin In The Woods On Galiano Island

Rustic cabin in the woods on Galiano Island

Interior of the Rustic cabin in the woods on Galiano Island

Galiano Island Accommodation

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.

Unexpected Friends

We even made a friend at the cabin that we did not quite expect, “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.

Red-legged frog in the outdoor shower
“Buddy”, the red-legged frog

Bellhouse Provincial Park

Starfish at Bellhouse Provincial Park on Galiano Island

Bellhouse Provincial Park on Galiano Island

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

Views from Mount Galiano on Galiano Island
Mount Galiano was one of our favourite hikes. The views here were spectacular!
Views from Mount Galiano on Galiano Island
Sitting on the grass, enjoying the stunning scenery

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

Woodpecker on Galiano Island

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.

Fall leaves on Galiano Island
It is beginning to feel a lot like Fall

Viewpoint at Collinson Point on Galiano Island

Viewpoint at Collinson Point on Galiano Island

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

Bluffs Park

Views from Bluffs Park on Galiano Island
A great spot to ferry watch
Views from Bluffs Park on Galiano Island
Bluffs Park was a favourite spot — and a perfect spot to sit and enjoy our lunch — we found a nice shady spot under the tree and enjoyed the beauty around us.

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

Views at Bodega Ridge Provincial Park on Galiano Island

Views at Bodega Ridge Provincial Park on Galiano Island

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 Caves

Views from the sandstone cave on Galiano Island

Views from the sandstone cave on Galiano Island

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 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 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.

Baby deer on Galiano Island
We saw 16 deer one day at sunset — they were everywhere along Porlier Pass Road.
Otter at Pebble beach on Galiano Island
An Otter that was very curious of us – Pebble Beach

Woodpecker on Galiano Island

Pebble Beach

Crashing waves at Pebble Beach on Galiano Island

Crashing waves at Pebble Beach on Galiano Island

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 on Galiano Island
Aerial view of Montague Harbour

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

White Shell Beach on Galiano Island

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

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 of hours later it was raining. We had the perfect timing to end our weekend exploring Galiano.

Sisters enjoying Morning Beach on Galiano Island

Sisters enjoying Morning Beach on Galiano Island

Enjoying pizza on Galiano Island


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.


What was one of your favourite little island discoveries?