Next up on my tour of BC’s Gulf Islands is Galiano Island. Galiano is named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, who sailed and mapped the Gulf and San Juan Islands in 1792. It is a long island (27 km tip to tip) and a narrow one (6 km across at its widest point, but only 1.6 km across at its narrowest). As the most northeastern of the Southern Gulf Islands, it is the island most easily accessed from Vancouver, but it is less developed and has fewer services than the others. That’s due to its rocky geography ― it hasn’t the farming history that the other islands have. In fact, until 20 years ago, the northeastern half of Galiano was a tree farm, which is why most of its 1200 year-round residents live at the south end.
I’ve been to Galiano a handful of times. The campground at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is one of my favourite campgrounds anywhere because of its beautiful white-shell beaches. Kayaks can be rented at Montague Harbour Marina, and there is nothing better than a cold beer on the marina’s waterfront deck after a day of paddling around Galiano’s rocky shores. If you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, there’s plenty of hiking to be found ― even a mountain (Mount Galiano) to climb ― and plenty more cold beverages available afterwards at the Hummingbird Pub.
But my favourite Galiano pastime, which I try to do every time I’m on the island (rain or shine) is to hike up to The Bluffs. These cliffs, covered in arbutus and Garry Oak trees, overlook Active Pass, making them a prime venue for ferryspotting. If you have time for only one activity while on Galiano, make it this one. The views are spectacular.