The Gulf Islands of British Columbia in Canada are stunning. Some of these picture-perfect islands are more developed than others, but most are accessible by ferry. One of the most stunning (and secluded) islands to check out here is Galiano Island. This island is next to Valdes Island and Salt Spring Island. Click here for what to expect while visiting the beautiful island of Salt Spring Island.

In addition to its low level of development and picturesque setting, Galiano Island also has some of the most accessible and easily explored sandstone caves in BC. But it offers much more than that, while kayaking and hiking on the island, keep one's eyes peeled for whales and orcas frolicking and playing out in the Gulf.


About Galiano Island

  • Population: Around 1,000
  • Dimensions: It Is A Long And Narrow Island Around 17 Miles Long And 1 Mile Wide At It Narrowest Point
  • Highest Point: Mount Galiano At 1,030 Feet Above Sea Level

One can find the unique sandstone formations and caves that the island is famous for on the western coast of the island.

Like other islands in the Gulf Islands, Galiano Island enjoys a sub-Mediterranean climate and a rich diversity of wildlife. In addition to bald eagles and herons, keep on the lookout for killer whales (aka orcas), seals, otters, and sea lions. This part of the North American West Coast is renowned for its whale watching. Additionally, the island is home to a large deer population.

  • Marine Wildlife: Sea Lions, Otters, Whales, And Killer Whales

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Galiano Caves

The coastlines of this stunning island are just lined with networks of sea caves that the wind and waves have carved out of the soft sandstone. One can explore these coastlines and just indulge in the beauty of nature.

  • Note: Many Of The Caves Are Not Signposted
  • Where: Near Retreat Cove
  • Access: Some Can Be Accessed At Low Tide, Others By Kayak

The caves are not highly promoted by Tourism Galiano (though they do promote them in their social media feed), that being said one can explore and access them for oneself. There is often no signage to many of the caves and some are on private property. Some are also accessible only at low tide - so it is very important not to forget the time and become stuck with the high tide.

The patterns along the shoreline that have been carved into the rocks are truly mesmerizing. Some of these nature's works of art are accessible by walking along the shoreline at Retreat Cove. Another option is to explore them by kayak (some are only accessible by kayak). To find some of the Instagram famous caves one may need to search a little bit as some are hidden from plain view and are not signposted. To explore some truly amazing caves in the United States, see here for what it is like to explore the Mammoth Caves National Park.

Activities On The Island

There are several activities and tourist companies operating on the island. One can rent mopeds to explore the island, enjoy golfing at the local Galiano Golf Course, learn sailing at the Galiano Sailing Charters at Retreat Cove, but perhaps one of the biggest must-dos is to explore the stunning cave-peppered shoreline by kayak. And then there's also hiking (be sure to hike up Mount Galiano and enjoy the panoramic views of the Gulf Islands from up there).

  • Pilgrimme Restaurant: Focuses On Local Farm-to-Table And Foraged Food, It Attracts Visitors From Around The World With Its Quality Pacific Northwest Cuisine

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Accommodation On Galiano Island

Development on the island is minimal. So there are only two proper hotels to choose from and several cabin resorts. Most of the accommodation here takes the form of holiday rentals, B&Bs, and the Montague Provincial Park Campsite. For those looking for more luxury and less rustic accommodation on the island, consider staying at the Galiano Inn.

Galiano Oceanfront Inn & Spa

  • Pets: Permitted With Some Restrictions
  • Accommodation Type: Every Luxury Suite And Villa Faces The Water And Boasts A Wood-Burning Fireplace And A Private Terrace Or Deck
  • Dining: The Inn Has The Atrevida Restaurant - Galiano's Only Oceanfront Restaurant
  • Atrevida Lounge: Galiano's Only Licensed Lounge For Cocktails On the Oceanfront

For a more complete list of accommodation options, check out the island's website here.

Getting To The Island

The main way to get to the island is by ferry, but one can also take a water taxi, floatplane, or private boat. By ferry one can connect from Vancouver, Victoria, Port Angels, and Seattle. The main ferry companies are BC Ferries and Black Ball Ferry Line. See here for more information about the ferries and seaplanes.

Next: Summer Is The Best Time To Visit British Columbia, And Here's Why