Escape into nature on this small and narrow island that can be driven from one end to the other in just 30 minutes. Galiano Island offers a mix of beautiful nature with luxuries, such as top-notch restaurants and a relaxing day spa by the ocean. Galiano Island may be remote, but it's the closest of the Gulf Islands to the Lower Mainland of BC, making it relatively easy to get to.
We list the 10 best things to do on Galiano Island as well as the best time to visit, how to get to Galiano and the best way to get around the island.
Galiano Island Travel Guide
Best time to visit Galiano Island
The best time to visit Galiano Island is during the dry season from May - September. These are the warmest months of the year with the least probability of rain.
How to get to Galiano Island from Vancouver
By ferry to Galiano Island
- Give yourself 45 minutes (60 minutes if rush hour) to get to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal from Vancouver by car.
- The ferry from Tsawwassen to Galiano Island takes one hour. Reservations are highly recommended during peak summer times.
- If you have a reservation you need to be at the ferry terminal at least 40 minutes prior to scheduled departure. If you don't have a reservation, you should still arrive early to ensure you get a spot on the ferry.
By float plane to Galiano Island
- From downtown Vancouver, give yourself 30 minutes to take the Canada Line skytrain to YVR Airport.
- From YVR Airport, take the complimentary shuttle from the international or domestic terminal to YVR South. The shuttle departs every 20 minutes.
- Seair Seaplanes offers flights from YVR South to Galiano. The flight time is 10 minutes.
Best way to get around Galiano Island
The best way to get around Galiano Island is by car. Half of the fun is driving around exploring the island! Taxis and busses are very limited. You can either rent a car on the mainland of BC to take over or you can rent a SmartCar at the Oceanfront Inn and Spa. The rental is $45 for 4 hours or $80 for 8 hours. We were able to reserve a rental without staying at the hotel.
10 Best Things to do in Galiano Island, BC
1. Start your morning off with coffee from Oxeeye Cafe
Oxeeye is a newly opened cafe that serves Pacific Northwest inspired cafe items. Grab a latte and a wild mushroom toast to start off your day of exploring the island.
2. Go boutique shopping for local goodies
As you drive through Galiano, you will see many creative shops and art studios with unique local products.
The best Galiano Island shopping:
- The Saturday Market: open from May Long Weekend to mid-October at the Lions Field with a focus on local products.
- The Market: a cute and colourful gourmet grocery store & cafe with a focus on healthy food
- Marcia De Vicque Glassworks: glassworks located in a small wooden cabin in the forest
- Cedar Grove Pottery: an open air pottery shop located in the forest
- Galiano Island Soapworks: local soaps and bath products made with natural ingredients
- IXCHEL Craft Shop: a bohemian boutique store with clothing, art, jewelry and wellness products
3. Treat yourself to the spa
Madrona del Mar Spa located at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn & Spa is a beautiful and secluded spa set on the oceanfront. We booked their Blueberry Bliss Experience, which focuses on indigenous and natural ingredients.
The 2.5 hour spa package included a 30-minute blueberry sugar body polish, 60-minute blueberry smoothie body masque, and a 60-minute massage. It isn’t one of those body scrubs and masques where you have to stand up after in a dazed state and shower it all off. They have a multi-jet spray shower they use that showers you while you are laying down!
Sitting along the oceanfront with a hot tea after our treatment was a very relaxing moment.
4. Eat dinner at Pilgrimme
Pilgrimme is an intimate restaurant in the Galiano forest. In 2015 it was named the 3rd best new restaurant in Canada by Enroute Air Canada. Pilgrimme focuses on farm-to-table ingredients found in the woods, sea, and local gardens. The chef, McCleery, spent a season in the kitchen of the world renowned Noma restaurant located in Copenhagen, Denmark!
See our list of 8 Galiano Restaurants you have to try.
5. Hike out to Dionisio Point Provincial Park to spot wildlife and cool rock formations
On the Northeast tip of the island lies Dionisio Point Provincial park, which has incredible sculpted sandstone shelves and plenty of wildlife. It’s only accessible by boat or kayak, however there is a way to get there by parking your car and walking by foot.
How to get to Dionisio Point Provincial Park
Take Bodega Beach Drive northwest as far as you can go by car until you come up to a closed gate. Park the car here and it’s about an hour walk along the rest of the road to the park. The journey is worth it to this remote part of the island to see sea lions! If you’re feeling adventurous, walk-in camping is available.
6. Go for a beach stroll at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park.
Take a walk along the white-shelled beach or bring a beach blanket and take some time to relax along the calm waters.
7. Watch the sunset from The Crane and Robin
The Crane and Robin is a great spot to grab a bite to eat while overlooking the Montague Harbour from their outdoor patio. They have delicious tacos, local BC wines and beers, sustainable seafood, and vegan options. It's one of the best spots to watch the sunset on the island.
8. Have a picnic at Bellhouse Provincial Park along the ocean
Bellhouse Provinical Park is the perfect spot for a picnic on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. You have views of Active Pass, an active marine channel between Galiano Island and Mayne Island. You have a chance to spot whales, sea lions, aquatic birds and bald eagles. Ferries also occasionally go by.
9. Stay at an Airbnb and experience the islander way of life
Check out our list of the best Airbnbs and hotels on Galiano Island.
10. See an incredible sandstone cave
Located at Retreat Cove, this hidden sandstone cave is perfectly sculpted. It's a true natural beauty you don't want to miss!
If you like Galiano Island, try island hopping with a visit to BC's bohemian island, Salt Spring Island. We list 10 fun things to do on this creative and free-spirited island.
Planning a trip around BC? See our full list of the 17 best getaways near Vancouver.
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