The eastern point of the Island was named Punta de Gaviola, meaning "seagull point" by Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez. It was later known as Punta de Gaviola, and eventually the whole Island became Gabriola.
British Columbia Travel Regions
Gabriola Island (pop. 4,500) is located off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, an easy ferry ride from Nanaimo. A member of the Southern Gulf Islands, it is a popular stopover for many vacationers who want to experience the distinctive cultures and attractions of B.C.'s south coast islands. Like many other Gulf Islands, Gabriola is home to a diverse selection of artists, musicians and writers, some of whom are internationally renowned.
Originally named by Spanish explorers in 1791 as "Punto de Gaviota" or "Cape Seagull," the island became eventually known as Gabriola, a possible distortion of its original Spanish name. Early Spanish influence can be found as well in several other locations around the island, such as Descanso Bay and Malaspina Galleries. Numerous First Nations petroglyphs, some of which are believed may have been carved by members of the Cowichan Nation hundreds of years ago, are spread across the island and can be viewed in situ and at the Gabriola Museum.
Famous both for its laid-back atmosphere and for its stunning marine vistas, Gabriola is a favourite haunt for sea kayakers and divers. The Gulf Islands temperate weather seems tailored to outdoor recreation, offering plenty of opportunities for boating, beachcombing and fishing. There are also plenty of recreational possibilities on land, with two provincial parks and several attractive beaches to walk, hike or cycle.
Late spring, summer and fall are the best times to experience Gabriola, which hosts a variety of art, music and literary events throughout the year. Advance reservations are advised when planning to stay during the popular summer and fall months.
Find all the visitor information you need to plan your trip to Gabriola Island. Just use the navigation links in the left hand column or the drop down menu at the top of the page to find where to stay, where to eat, what to see, and what to do.
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