The Ultimate Guide To Gulf Islands National Reserve Park

gulf islands

Nearly fifteen islands and numerous islets make up the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. They are enclosed by cerulean waters that are preserved from the scary storms of the Pacific. Gliding and paddling effortlessly lead to serene activities like hiking and birdwatching, producing an exceptional holiday of travel and family entertainment. Once you reach, there are many unparalleled landscape features and plants to explore. Services everywhere the islands differ. If you are touring during Canada Day, register for the yearly Lamp BBQ at Winter Cove, Saturna Island. Some of the islands give water and pit toilets, while others authorize no camping at all – so don’t forget to do your research before you set out.

The Gulf Islands

The Gulf Islands are one of the eight National Park Reserves, inhabited on the Southern Coast of British Columbia. Off the southern coast of British Columbia, bordering to the Strait of Georgia is a group of islands, islets, and reefs with rugged shorelines and abrupt headlands.

Also known as the Southern Gulf Islands, these islands are blessed by Canada’s only Mediterranean-type climate—temperate and dry in the summertime and cool and damp in the wintertime. While the remnant of the coast remains cooler during the beginning spring months, the gulf islands are encountering sunny weather, blooming wildflowers, and moody skies.

Likewise, fall proceeds to be a peaceful time of year with great changing hues. The winters are controlled by Arctic winds mixing with Pacific air movements occurring in abundant rainfall and cold temperatures. The area undergoes an average of 838 mm (33 in) of rainfall each year, with over half of that falling in the four months between October and February.


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Most of the larger islands share a comparable past. They were dwelled on by the semi-nomadic First Nations beings and settled by Europeans in the mid-1800s. In the 1900s, these islands were known for abundant fruit production.

Today, this area is a fascinating place to travel. The park areas on the more substantial islands (Saturna IslandMayne Island, and North Pender and South Pender Island) are open by BC Ferries. In contrast, the remaining areas can only be transferred by water taxi, private boat, or kayak.

Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia in the Strait of Georgia. The area is composed of about twelve populated islands, and various hundred smaller reefs and islets. The Gulf Islands are part of an extensive archipelago that bears Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Various of these islands, and the waterways around them, disclose the titles of the Spanish and English explorers who appeared in the area in the 18th century.

You can spend a vacation on either Sidney Spit, Mt. Warburton Pike, East Point, Winter Cove, or Roseland! The islands and neighboring oceans are rich with ecologically distinct shrubs and sea life, including Garry oaks, wild lilies, kelp beds, and Orcas. The Gulf Islands are home to one of the modern residual pockets of Garry oak ecosystems. The uncommon Mediterranean aspects of the islands’ climate raise the Garry oak ecosystem.

Garry oak ecosystems are home to larger plant species, such as the camas, than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal B.C. and are an example of Canada’s most at-risk open environments. Today, Garry oak grasslands exist in the pure and bared soil of valleys, craggy foothills, and meridional inclines—areas that the settlers of the past 150 years have discovered inappropriate for agriculture or development.


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Roughly 15 of these islands and over 30 scantier islets constitute the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Founded in 2003 by Parks Canada, the Gulf Islands National Park was designed to preserve this area’s unique ecosystem, which is significantly rich with ecologically distinct plants and sea-life, including twisted Garry oaks, delicate wild lilies, thick kelp beds, and magnificent Orca whales.

This precious ecosystem is one the most jeopardized in all of Canada, making it a very vital secured space for the conservation of rare species.

One of Canada’s most newly chosen parks, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, is an innovative safeguard strategy that exists among established communities. This park’s protection extends 200 meters into the sea in the waterfront areas. The Gulf Islands are also home to nearly 15 endangered species, ten threatened species and 13 species of exceptional concern. These varieties include butterflies, shellfish, ferns, and killer whales.

In most parts of Canada, olive trees cannot flourish; the long-drawn, severe winter and short, humid summer and spring make it difficult for olives to grow adequately and adequately, but Pender Island, Saturna Island, and Salt Spring Island have a Mediterranean style atmosphere that sanctions olive production.

Mayne, Saturna and Pender Islands can be approached by car ferry from Swartz Bay, 31 km from Victoria. Sidney Spit is a summer tourist ferry trip from the Town of Sidney. The remainder of the park and preserved waters are available by kayaks, powerboat, or sailboat.

There is no interpretive hub. There are nearly ten backcountry camping areas on eight islands and two drive-in campgrounds on Vancouver and North Pender Islands. Though accessible year-round, there are some wintertime access limitations.

South Pender Island

Both North Pender Island and South Pender Island are surprising places to tour. Peaking of landscapes, Mount Norman Viewpoint on South Pender Island gives you an exceptional aerial scenery of the Gulf Islands. The trip takes you just about an hour to sweat your way to the top, but you will know that it was deserving as you unwind on the well-maintained viewpoint.

gulf islands

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As you voyage the island, you will discover numerous localities where you can halt and savor an espresso and a snack. There are eateries, bistros, cafes, and pubs extending both casual and exquisite dining. You will find a large-scale array of food contributions to gratify every budget.

Along the journey, you will uncover roadside stands offering include Seafood, Sushi, Local Lamb, Homemade Soups, Burgers, Deli Sandwiches, Fish and Chips, Pizza, and Vegetarian food. Make sure you watch for the signs guiding you to places endeavoring raw crab, prawns, and fresh fish in season. Local items can also be found at the Saturday Farmers Market, which operates from the springtime through autumn.

Despite their miniature size, Pender Harbour and Egmont are abundant in exquisite pieces to delight each member of your group. To make it easier for you – or perhaps I might have made it tougher by the end, and you will just have to hang on for a while – I’ve created your go-to foodie guide for everything in that area. I hope you packed your craving.

1. The Lagoon Restaurant at Painted Boat

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Positioned right on the docks in Madeira Park in a protected bay, The Lagoon Restaurant at Painted Boat supports the comfortable and vibrant vibe of the resort, serving up pure seafood – hello coconut curry and lime mussels – and mouthwatering delicacies. They also have a kids’ menu if your little ones don’t enjoy the lamb. And if you find yourself with some additional time before dinner, I highly suggest soaking over to the spa for some pampering. 🙂

2. Inlets Restaurant – West Coast Wilderness Lodge 

Ever wished to bird watch while chowing down on regionally grabbed spot prawns, involved in some of the most magnificent landscapes you can find anywhere in the world? Yes, I thought so. At Inlets Restaurant – what they popularly call the “spirit” of the West Coast Wilderness Lodge in Egmont – you can decide from breakfast, lunch or dinner, and relax on the patio to gape at the seashore. At the same time, you observe the currents shift with the tide through Skookumchuck Narrows. You can even match your snack with a dramatic floatplane tour and a variety of B.C. wines.

3. Skookumchuck Bakery + Cafe


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Conveniently snuggled adjacent to the entrance of the hike into the gorgeous Skookumchuck Narrows, this Bakery + Cafe is your one-stop-shop for all the baked delicacies you could need to fire your trek. Stuff up on Skookum (meaning “powerful,” so you know they are a great size) cinnamon buns, scones, and freshly baked bread pre- or post-hike or abandon the hike altogether and just have many cinnamon buns!

4. Back Nine Bistro – Pender Harbour Golf Course

Whether you intend to hit the green or are just watching for a delicious bite, the Back Nine Bistro at the Pender Harbour Golf Course guarantees to have something to fulfill any craving. Their menu provides everything from salads to “sand wedges,” and burgers crafted from locally-sourced beef. Choose from indoor or patio dining, or pick from their grab n’ go menu to take a bite out on the course with you. 

Accommodation To Suit Your Taste And Needs

You will discover a variety of exquisite rooms or your cottage, some with hot tubs, pools, and a spa in the resorts, lodges, and inns here. You can decide from withdrawn and peaceful forest settings or spectacular ocean views.

If your decision is to be gratified with a lavish home-cooked breakfast in a secluded home, they offer bed & breakfasts where you can linger in a setting to satisfy every taste, some with homey fireplaces and separate hot tubs. If you think to stay awhile and do some of your catering, their vacation apartments will fulfill your need.

Options differ from one-bedroom cottages to more extravagant villas suitable for a family and perhaps the family pet. For those who choose to be closer to the outdoors, Pender Island has campground alternatives. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve presents three sites. Prior Centennial Campground is a vehicle-accessible campground, Beaumont and Shingle Bay are attainable by a walk-in trail.

Wherever you prefer to stay, Pender Island gives accommodation for everyone. The nighttime is tranquil, and in the early mornings, you may wake to the melody of the songbirds. So often, guests have said, “It is so peaceful here” and “I have nevermore rested so well.”

1. Shangrila Waterfront Vacation Home

vacation home

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Shangrila waterfront vacation home has backyard views, free WiFi, and free private parking, installed in Pender Island. All units are available with a dishwasher, a microwave, a kettle, a fridge, and a coffee machine. There is a separate bathroom with a shower in all rooms, along with a hairdryer and free toiletries. The homestay highlights a barbecue, patio, and sun terrace, which can be relished by customers if the weather allows.

2. Poets Cove Resort & Spa


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Snuggled in Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island, this hotel extends a full-service marina, open-air pool, and on-site dining. Each comfortable unit comprises a fireplace including a T.V. Rooms at Poet’s Cove Resort & Spa comes with a mini-fridge and harbor view. With huge windows and whitewashed walls, cottages and villas emphasize a lavish kitchen and patio, a plus point for cooking lovers :).

Showcasing local West Coast food, the on-site Aurora Restaurant serves up a diversity of seafood specialties. Poet’s Cove Resort also highlights a full-service on-site spa. For on-site activity, visitors can engage themselves in yoga sessions or make use of the b-ball court. Fishing is an added on-site recreational choice.

Thirty minutes’ ride away, customers can travel up to Greenburn Lake at Gulf Island National Park. Morning Bay Vineyard & Estate Winery is a comfortable place to consume a lunchtime 14 km distantly. Pender Island Golf Club is just15 km away. Particularly Couples like the location — they rated it 9.1 for a two-person trip.

Salt Spring Islands

Salt Spring Island is the ideal classic place to spend a weekend if you are looking to relax, get close to the natural atmosphere, and step back in time to when life appeared a tad simpler. Mounting pine trees, pure salty air, and rugged coastlines will catch you breathing comfortably all weekend long. Local essential products and the flourishing art scene will continue an added band of magic to this isle getaway. 

gulf islands park reserve

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About Salt Spring Islands

Salt Spring Island is a densely settled island of the meridional Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada. It extends in the Strait of Georgia within the region of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Salt Spring Island is, of course, encompassed by salty water, but it is a refreshing season treat to take a bath in one of the five freshwater lagoons on the island. Take your pick from St. Mary Lake, Cusheon Lake, Blackburn Lake, Stowell Lake, and Weston Lake. There are public-access spots at all the lakes.

You must plan on spending a few hours hiking the Ganges, the main town on Salt Spring Island. It is an excellent spot to peruse through different art galleries and boutiques, to schedule a whale watching or kayaking voyage, and to stock up on groceries and other essentials. Seeing the boats in the dock is a relaxing way to immerse into this classic weekend getaway. Salt Spring Adventure Co. Ltd. treats whale watching and aquatic wildlife vacationing tours with daylight and midday leaving from Ganges Harbour between March and October with daily whale sightings anticipated amid June and September. Tour during the summertime season and have a snack at the Cafe. Be sure to gratify in the excellent gelato made with the corresponding goat milk as is used in the cheese.

gulf island park reserve

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 They don’t call Salt Spring Island Canada’s Island of the Arts for nothing! The Saturday market in the Ganges (April through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is exploding with local artisans and food producers. Everything traded at the market is designed and manufactured locally, and, as Salt Spring Island is a hotbed for creatives, you will relish perusing the stands of potters, jewelers, woodworkers, and a myriad of other artisans. You’ll be sure to find some uncommon gifts here and some gratifying goodies for a weekend picnic.

Pro Tip: Having a car on Salt Spring Island is the perfect way to appreciate your weekend. With a car, you can experience the complete island on the weekend. It takes about 45 minutes to drive from one end of Salt Spring Island to the other. The bumpy streets are frequently asphalted.

Where To Eat And Drink

Let’s just say that Salt Spring Island is the absolute place to luxuriate in seafood enjoyments. Take your pick from raw halibut, mussels, or Dungeness crab, and your taste buds will be versifying! The Ganges is where you will find the most maximum eateries to choose from.

1. Rock Salt Restaurant And Cafe

rock salt cafe

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If you visit in Fulford Harbour, halt by the Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe for a beverage and bite or a meal. Their dining place has a 180-degree beach view, but it’d be better is to relax at a table on the terrace facing the boats and breathe in the fresh alkaline atmosphere. Alternately, as you bequeath Salt Spring Island and line up for the ferry, leap into the Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe and pick up some meals to feed on the ferryboat.

2. Salt Spring Wild Cider


Photo by Tijana Drndar

Salt Spring Wild’s ciders are designed with 100 percent regional, organic ingredients. Did someone say elderberry elderflower cider or sour orange rosemary cider? Their specialty is the semi-dry cider composed of handpicked Salt Spring apples. Drop by the field, take a tour, or travel straight to the tasting place to experiment with a variety of ciders along with farm-style tapas. If you’re a cider enthusiast, you won’t walk away empty-handed!

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Where To Stay On Salt Spring Island

My first suggestion is to reserve beforehand. Salt Spring Island is a sought-after destination, particularly in the summertime season. Salt Spring Island has an extensive diversity of accommodation including shelters, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. Perhaps you favor an ocean landscape or a tiny cabin in an old-growth grove. Whatever your taste be, you should be able to find a small piece of paradise to execute this weekend flawlessly!

1. Hastings House Country House Hotel 

This extravagant country hotel is established on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. The resort extends full-service baths and suites refrigerators. Hastings House Country House Hotel suites are furnished with complimentary WiFi. Some suites incorporate a soaking bathtub or viewpoints of the ocean. The yearly restaurant menu varies daily and includes berries and greens grown in the pure lodge patio. Lodgers at the Hasting House can unwind for a midday tea in the living room by the chimney. The hotel also has a space for fishing and large fields. The Hastings House is 3.2 km from the Salt Spring Island Golf & Country Club. Alderlea Vineyards is within a 25-minute ride of the hotel. 

2. Harbour House Hotel

hotels and lodges

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This Salt Spring Island resort in the city of Ganges highlights well-ventilated rooms with free WiFi and coffee-making amenities. Some allow a hot tub or landscapes of the Ganges Harbour. Complimentary tea and coffee are ready in the rooms. Continental breakfast is prepared Saturday and Sunday in the hall. Lunch and dinner are available Tuesday to Sunday in their on-site eatery.

Long Harbour is 10 minutes’ tour from Hotel Harbour House. Mount Maxwell Provincial Park is 15 minutes’ drive away, while the central bus stop is 5 minutes’ walk away. Couples especially love the location — they ranked it 9.2 for a two-person trip.

Pro Tip: Choose rooms at Harbour House Hotel that include a porch or patio. 

Appreciate your perfect weekend on the Gulf Islands; you are sure to bequeath feeling reinvigorated. Getaway from the masses and find an islet or reef where you can forget yourself in a novel, relish the sunny summer sun or get your everyday dose of yoga. There are countless opportunities in the park, so let your plan and kayak or boat guide you to a place you’ll nevermore neglect. Stuff your bags—it’s time to begin on a getaway.

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