British Columbia, Canada
The Gulf Islands

The Gulf Islands are actually two unique groupings of islands off of the coast of British Columbia. The Southern Gulf Islands, clustered near the base of Vancouver Island, are the most frequently visited of the two and are best known for seven unique islands: Gabriola, Galiano, Mayne, Salt Spring, Saturna and the two Pender Islands. Each is imbued with its own distinct flavor and many are home to flourishing artist communities. With less than 30 inches of rain a year, the southern islands are known for their warm, mild climates and serene vacation settings.

The Northern Gulf Islands, which dot the Strait of Georgia between the Sunshine Coast of the mainland and the eastern shoreline of Vancouver Island, include the islands of Cortes, Denman, Lasqueti, Quadra, and Hornby islands that up until about 10 or 20 years ago, because of their distance from the city of Vancouver, were less known to the curious traveler.

Both groups of islands are popular haunts for activities such as kayaking, bike riding, beachcombing and shopping. The southern islands have gained increasing notoriety in the last few years for their comfortable bed and breakfast retreats. Several Gulf Islands support small cottage vineyards that specialize in organic and regional wines.

The Gulf Islands are part of a larger contingent of approximately 6,000 islands and islets that populate the waters between Washington and Alaska. British Columbia ferries frequent all of the major Southern Gulf Islands and provide limited service to many of the northern communities. Private water taxi service and in some cases, float planes, may also be available from the mainland and Vancouver Island.

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