Posted by: cherylyoung | February 5, 2012





The island’s name is derived from Punta de Gaviota (Cape Seagull), 

 the name given by the Spanish to the southeastern part

 of the island in 1791.


 This name was later corrupted to Gaviola and later to Gabriola.

Other island names dating back to Spanish exploration of the Strai

 of Georgia include Descanso Bay and Malaspina Galleries.

In a pleasant rural setting of forested parks and quiet beaches,

Gabriola’s residents enjoy a mild temperate climate, a relaxed

 lifestyle and  a strong sense of community.


 Picturesque roads lead to sensational ocean views, and the sandstone

 shoreline can be walked almost indefinitely.


 The population is concentrated on the north and south ends of the

 island , with a friendly rivalry enjoyed between north and

south islanders.


Many of Gabriola’s residents are retired, but just as many

commute daily  to Nanaimo to work.


 The island is known for its many artisans, with a thriving cottage

 industry  in pottery and other arts and crafts.


 Watch for signs around the island and at local craft shops.

The kidney-shaped Gabriola is third in population size, after

 Saltspring Island and Quadra Island, and is one of the more accessible

 islands in the Gulf Islands chain, reached by a 20-minute ferry ride

 from downtown Nanaimo  to the BC Ferries terminal at Descanso Bay.


Population: 4,000
Location: Gabriola Island is located in the Strait of Georgia, between
 Vancouver Island east of Nanaimo.
 Gabriola is easily reached by a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown
 Nanaimo,  or by floatplane from Vancouver (15 miles/24 km).
The Gabriola Museum tells the story of this small island in the
 Strait of Georgia; the petroglyphs carved by its aboriginal inhabitants;
 its discovery by  Spanish explorers; later settlement by European
 immigrants; its climate,  plants and animals.

More than 50 petroglyphs have been discovered under thick moss at

 Jack Point, Lock Bay and Weldwood – best known is a carving of a

 killer whale found near Degnen Bay


For a special insight into the aboriginal mythology of the Cowichan Nation,

take time to view the petroglyphs carved in the rock face of a field behind

 Gabriola United Church on South Road.

Follow a trail behind the church through the forest to an open field

and begin exploring the rock face for ancient images.


Discover the Isle Of The Arts – visit the many artist’s studios, galleries

 and delightful shops.


Be sure to visit the busy Farmers Market on Saturdays from the May

 long Weekend until Thanksgiving.


 Enjoy island fresh produce, baked goods and crafts.

Gabriola Island is one of the best places in the Gulf Islands where

 you can still pick  and eat fresh oysters, mussels and clams.


Gabriola Island offers an abundance of wildlife, including resident

 and transient killer whales, sea lions, seals, otters and bald eagles.


The island is served by a challenging nine-hole golf course

 overlooking Hoggan Lake


 Gabriola Island Golf & Country Club offers a full service clubhouse

that always welcomes non-members.

Surrounded by some of the best cruising grounds on the BC coast, Gabriola is

 ideal for sailing, luring mariners and outdoor adventurers from around

 the world to the Gulf Islands.


The sheltered havens of Silva Bay and Degnen Bay provide anchorage

 and mooring facilities for local and visiting boaters.

 The waters of Georgia Strait to the east can provide exhilarating

sailing, while more protected waters lie to the south of the Island.


The Silva Bay Yacht Club provides a venue for those persons interested

 in participating in boating related events.


One of the most soulful ways to explore the Gulf Islands is in a sea kayak.

 Safer and more stable than a canoe, sea kayaks allow you to travel

 in comfort, with as much gear and goodies as you can manage to stow

 into the ample storage compartments fore and aft.


 If you bring your own kayak or canoe with you, BC Ferries treats

 them as hand baggage and there is no charge.


The calm waters to the southwest of the Gabriola provide an

 an excellent area for kayaking. Paddlers can launch at Silva Bay.

Divers come to Gabriola Island for the spectacular passes,

rocky pinnacles and colourful marine life, including wolf eels

 and the giant Pacific octopus.


You can dive from shore at the 20-hectare Drumbeg Park, or do a

 boat dive on Rogers Reef whilst remaining out of the treacherous

 current that can run  at 8 knots through Gabriola Passage.


 Diving in the passage is for experienced divers only – near slack tide,

 on the ebb.  


One of the best places to begin a boating fishing trip in the

 Gulf Islands is from  Silva Bay at the south end of Gabriola Island.


 The nearby Flat Top Islands are a guaranteed hotspot to mooch

 for salmon.

 It’s hard to keep a secret. 

 You can tell where the fish are biting by  looking to see where boats are


Although there are no long or recognized hikes on public lands,

it is possible to hike from one end of Gabriola to the other along the

 high ground and enjoy panoramic views and tranquil woodlands.

 The beautiful sandy bays and long exposed shores can be reached from

 numerous access points around the island, and many of the country

 roads offer  pleasant walks at any time of the year.

A cycling ride around Gabriola Island is lengthy – the island is about

 12 miles (20 km) long – but touches on a variety of good beaches,

 including Gabriola Sands, Sandwell and Drumbeg Provincial Parks,

 roadside picnic tables at Brickyard Beach, and the sheltered enclave at

 Silva Bay, a popular stopover and a good place to wet your whistle.

 Pedalling Gabriola is a fairly straightforward endeavour:

 North and South Roads loop around opposite sides of the island and

meet at Silva Bay.

Whalebone Beach is a narrow exposed stretch of shoreline on the

 northern shore  offering peaceful walks and an opportunity to see

seals and shorebirds.

 Across the island on the southern shoreline is Brickyard Beach, you can

 still observe old bricks that were manufactured on the island during

 the depression years.

Study the tidal pools on the rocky point at low tide.

Perhaps the most amazing limestone formation on the Gulf Islands,

just south of the beach and picnic grounds at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park.

This grassy, open, breezy location on Taylor and Pilot Bays is

 rather unique on the islands for its manicured ambience.

 It’s an easy 1.2-mile (2-km) jaunt from the ferry dock at Descanso Bay

 to the park along Taylor Bay Road. Walk the beach at Taylor Bay to the

 limestone formations called the Malaspina Galleries, carved by

 surf and frost.

 An easier approach to them  is via Malaspina Drive, which leads east

off Taylor Bay Road.

A trail leads from the drive’s end to Malaspina Point and the Galleries.

 Exploration of the seaside formations is due to the deteriorating

stability of the  overhanging formations and concerns for public safety.

At low tide, visitors can still stand on the foreshore at one end and

 look into  the cavern, the best way to view the Malaspina Galleries

 is by kayak.

Drumbeg Provincial Park, at the east end  overlooking Gabriol

 Passage,is a favourite spot for swimming, fishing,and picnicking.

 Shelving sandstone ledges pockmark the shoreline and enclose

 the sandy beach.

 A grassy park, picnic tables, hiking trails are all provided.

 To the south of Drumbeg Park is Valdes Island, less than 250

 metres across  tricky Gabriola Passage.

Sandwell Provincial Park is a small oceanfront park at Lock Bay,

on the northeast shore of Gabriola Island.

 Take an easy hike through the woods,relax in the sun or enjoy a

 peaceful stroll along the beautiful sand and pebble beach.

 Look for Indian petroglyphs carved into the sandstone boulders on

 Lock Bay’s foreshore.

 Access to the park is via North Road, Barrett Road and left onto

 Strand Road to the park.

Gabriola Island’s annual events include the Maritime Festival

 and Wooden Boat Launch in April; the Concert on the Green and

 Golf Tournament in August and the Thanksgiving Studio Gallery Tour.







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