Posted by: cherylyoung | February 19, 2012

Day 10 – Set Foot on every Island

I would like to acknowledge “Beautiful British Columbia Magazine”  for all the 50 things to do before you die.

Set Foot on Every Gulf Island

Salt Spring Summer Market

Visiting every ferry-serviced island between mainland B.C and Vancouver Island is an achievable ambition for most British Columbia  B.C Ferries’ car and passenger vessels serve more than a dozen islands, including the official Gulf Islands in the south and the archipelago north of Gabriola ancecdotally known as the “Northern Gulf Islands.”  The ships themselves provide a nautical adventure mini cruise liners chugging through a maze of inter-Island channels.  You’ll roll off the boat humming sea shanties, savouring the isolation only an island can bring.

Regardless of which island we’ve chosen, a recent trip to Saltspring was no exception. Painters, potters, sculptors – the Gulf Islands are teeming with talented artists.

In 2003, the Gulf Island National Park Reserve was established protecting 35 square kilometers of land and intertidal areas on 15 mean islands, and about 26 square kilometers of marine habitat for seals, shorebirds and other wildlife.  And the essence of the Gulf Islands remains largely unchanged: the age-old conservationists-versus-developers conflicts: hippies occupying dusty cabins in the bush: sheep grazing beside weather  worn  barns; farmers and artisans setting up booths at outdoor markets: children selling fresh flowers on the boulevard: and dogs snoozing in the middle of the road

If there is a sameness to the various Gulf Islands it is the laid-back atmosphere and mild climate.  There are other similarities, too – coastal flora and fauna and hilly topography-but the differences are what entice the traveler to try them all.  Saltspring,  with three ferry terminals and a population nearing 10,000, is much livelier than Saturna, the outback of the Gulf Islands with about 360 residents.  Some say Galiano is the most scenic.  Mayne is the most historic and the bridge between North Pender and South Pender gets you two islands for the price of one.

Here are some good excuses for visiting a dozen of the favourites

SALTSPRING: Take in the view from Mount Maxwell Provincial Park; shop the Saturday Market in Ganges: camp at Ruckle Provincial Park

THE PENDERS:  Have lunch at Hope Bay Café: stroll the isthmus at Roeland in Gulf Islands national Park Reserve.

pender

GALIANO:  Walk the shores of Montague Harbour Marine Park at low tide: dine at the Hummingbird Inn Pub, watch BC Ferries from the cemetery at the end of Active Pass Drive

MAYNE:  Visit the heritage building at Miners Bay

SATURNA :  Enjoy views from Mount Warburton Pike and Monarch Head in gulf Islands National Park Reserve: East Point lighthouse’ paddle from Winter Cove out to Tumbo  and Cabbage island in the national park; partake of the annual Canada Day lamb barbeque

GABRIOLA: Admire sandstone formations at Malaspina Galleries

Peacock-snow-jan1207-002

DENMAN: Watch beavers at Chickadee Lake

HORNBY:  Hike the clifftops in Helliwell Provincial Park’ photograph eagles and sea lions from Heron Rocks during herring season in February and March

hornby-aerial

QUADRA:  Paddle in Main lake and Rebecca Spit Marine provincial parks.

CORTES: Swim in lovely Hague Lake.

Cormorant:  Examine aboriginal artifacts at U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay.

MALCOLM:  Persue Finnish folk art in Sointula

Info www.bcferries.com

www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/gulf/index_E.asp;

http://www.vancouverisland .travel:

www.bcparks.ca

CHERYL HOLMES YOUNG

SAANICH PENINSULA REALTY

SIDNEY B.C  www.cherylyoung.ca

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