Gabriola is one of the most beautiful Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. Easy accessible from Nanaimo via a 20 minute ferry ride on the Quinsam or a 12 minute float plane ride from downtown Vancouver through Tofino Air, yet tucked away from the hustle and bustle. To view a map of Gabriola, please click here.
Gabriola Island – the Isle of the Arts
Gabriola is known as “Isle of the Arts” for excellent reason. It’s home to possibly the highest concentration of artists in Canada, covering almost every discipline: painting, pottery, jewellery, woodcarving, literature and music. Galleries and private studios scattered around the island welcome visitors. Works of art are often left out, the kiosk unattended. To purchase something, just leave cash or cheque, take the masterpiece and travel onwards. How easy can it be?
Only 20 minutes by BC Ferries from the city of Nanaimo, Gabriola (population ~5,000) casts spells across layers of time. Its sandstone geology studs the coast with dramatic rock formations. Petroglyphs carved by First Nations people speak for Gabriola’s most ancient culture. The island’s natural bounty invites modern adventurers to fish for salmon and halibut, hike the verdant forests and bike the island from top to bottom.
Today’s Gabriola strikes visitors as beautiful, tranquil and easygoing. And it is. People say it’s so quiet sometimes, you can hear a bird’s wings in motion. Gabriolans like to think of themselves as “wacky in a nice kind of way.” The island swarms with painters, sculptors, photographers and glass artists, not to mention musicians, dancers and writers. It’s the sort of place one might acquire creativity by osmosis.
Don’t look for downtown on Gabriola. Tourist facitilies and developments are spread around, although there is some concentration around marinas at the north and south ends of the island. North and South Roads loop around opposite sides of the island and converge at Silva Bay, creating a 30km/19mi circle route that treats motorists, bikers and hikers to a succession of sandy bays, golden beaches, sun-dappled forest and panoramic views. Rentals Scooters, mountain bike, cars and minivans can be rented on the island.
Gabriola’s deeply embedded arts community beckons travellers to shop the galleries and private studios, take in a play or or festival and unwind body and soul with a range of innovative spa therapies.
Fishing: Gabriola is one of the top Gulf Island destinations for picking and eating fresh oysters, mussels and clams straight from the beach. Anglers can drop traps for prawns and Dungeness crab. Its surrounding waters swim with salmon, halibut, lingcod, rock cod, snapper, octopus and other delicacies. Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon are premium catches. The fisherman’s grail is the “tyee”, in Aboriginal parlance a salmon weighing 13.6kg/30lb or more. Two local charter companies take guests fishing.
Relaxing on Gabriola: Clean, green, scenic and relaxed, Gabriola Island is a tonic for body and soul. It’s also a naturally inviting setting for physical, mental and spiritual therapies including massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, yoga, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure and alternate therapies. And don’t forget to leave some time to watch the local marine life. It’s not uncommon to see seals, sea lions, otters and of course whales…
Farmer’s Market: From the 3rd weekend in May until the Thanksgiving weekend you can visit the Farmer’s Market at the Agi Hall every Saturday. This is the time to chat with friends, get your local veggies and for visitors to find all those local creations to bring home as gifts. 10 am till noon sharp. Music, art, facepainting, food and much more…
Gabriola Viewpoints: A must-see stop is the Malaspina Galleries, a spectacular, overhanging rock formation resembling a 90m/295ft-long, 3.5m/11ft-high wave frozen in mid-roll. Another is Olrebar Point, with its postcard view of the Entrance Island Lighthouse and Coast Mountains. Bring a camera and linger on until sunset.
Dining: Gabriola’s population may be small, but it’s plainly sophisticated. The itinerant foodie’s range jumps from pizza and fish and chips to local ingredients prepared with international flare. Head to Robert’s Place, Woodfire Pizza & Pasta or Silva Bay Resort & Marina – as shown – for some yummy food.
There is so much more, but we don’t want to take all the surprises away from you…so come on over and stay for a lifetime…
Benefits of Living on Gabriola Island
Some of the benefits you will derive from living here are:
- The fastest and easiest way to add 10 years to your life
- Thoroughly modern island with that Old World Charm
- Connected to the world, without the hassle & stress
- 20 minute ferry ride (32 crossings daily) to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island
- 12 minute seaplane hop from Vancouver International Airport to your Island doorstep
- Connected to the world with high speed broadband internet & TV
- State of the art brand new medical centre with helicopter pad
- Fire Department with the highest response rating – it’s like having your own fire hydrant outside your home
- Self-sufficient community
- Many organic food growers and market gardeners
- Local produce, livestock, and fresh fishing
- On island supermarket food store, credit unions, gas & propane station, 2 medical centres with chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, dental clinic, restaurants, coffee shops, pharmacy, library, over 40 artists galleries, 2 marinas with sheltered moorings + government wharf, on island RCMP station
- Ultra low invisible crime rate
- Safe and secure
- Peace and tranquility 24/7
- No industry, no smell, no pollution
- Crystal clean air
- Mediterranean style micro climates: hot & dry summers, no humidity, warm spring and fall, rainy winters, average annual rainfall 37.5″…and virtually no snow!
- no bugs, no mosquitos, no poisionous snakes or predators
- Abundance of eagles, deer, birds, wildlife and fishing for the best Salmon in the world, oysters, crabs & shellfish at your doorstep ready for the picking, tons of blackberries
- Artisans, musicians, painters, writers are inspired by the energy here
- the queen of the Gulf Islands & the Island of the Arts
- Less than a hop, skip and a jump from Vancouver, – at a quarter of the price and half the rainfall!