Gulf IslandsCanada

Image for Mayne Island which includes waves

Visit Gulf Islands

Experience island life on this Salish Sea archipelago, where you’ll find wineries, artists’ galleries, secluded beaches and protected forest reserves.

Find alluring island getaways in the Gulf Islands, which lie in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s mainland. Over 200 islands make up this breathtaking archipelago, each with unique appeal. Hop between islands by boat or explore miles of pristine coastline, sandstone escarpments and dense old-growth forests. Check out the local culinary delights and sample Gulf Islands’ wines, cheeses and organic produce grown in the Mediterranean-like climate.

The Gulf Islands’ most populous landmass is Salt Spring Island. The island has a busy community with a thriving arts scene and fantastic Saturday market. Exciting communities of artists and artisans live on Galiano Island and Gabriola Island too. Follow an arts trail and visit galleries and home studios.

Check out Mayne Island to see a stunning collection of late 19th-century buildings. The island is also known for excellent kayaking and opportunities for spotting whales, orcas and seabirds. Launch from the islands’ many beaches and docks or embark on a guided tour. Join a charter boat trip to view the lighthouse and breathtaking coastal scenery.

The Pender Islands are covered in magnificent wilderness areas, including parts of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Explore the islands’ trails to spot wildlife and discover secluded beaches. The least developed area is Saturna Island, a stunning landmass dotted with sandstone formations and ancient forests. Here you’ll find Mount Warburton Pike and a scenic winery.

Swim, scuba dive and fish in the islands’ protected waters or camp and hike in the numerous reserves. Cycle through fertile farmland and up rugged mountains or play a round at an island golf course.

Access the larger Gulf Islands via ferry from Vancouver Island and the British Columbian mainland. Spend days boating around the islands on a yacht or island-hop using the network of ferries. Major ports are in Nanaimo, Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay, Crofton, Otter Bay and Fulford Harbour.

Top Hotels in Gulf Islands

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Grand Pacific
Hotel Grand Pacific
4 out of 5
463 Belleville St, Victoria, BC
CA $152
per night
Jan 5 - Jan 6

Located in James Bay, this romantic hotel is steps away from The Robert Bateman Centre, Victoria Harbour and Victoria Clipper Ferry Terminal. British Columbia ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (2,057 reviews)

"Incredible customer service and great location. The harbor view suites were wonderful, especially for viewing Christmas lights in the harbor."…"

Reviewed on Dec. 8, 2019

Hotel Grand Pacific
Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites
Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites
3.5 out of 5
740 Burdett Ave, Victoria, BC
CA $129
per night
Jan 1 - Jan 2

Located in Downtown Victoria, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Maritime Museum of British Columbia and Royal BC Museum. British Columbia ...

4.3/5Excellent! (2,002 reviews)

"It was close to the theatre we were going to as well as shopping"…"

Reviewed on Dec. 8, 2019

Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites
Red Lion Inn and Suites
Red Lion Inn and Suites
3 out of 5
3366 Douglas St, Victoria, BC
CA $70
per night
Dec 14 - Dec 15

Located in the heart of Victoria, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.4 km) from Uptown Center and within 3 miles (5 km) of British Columbia Parliament Building and Victoria ...

4/5Very Good! (1,196 reviews)

"Very reasonable rate with good amenities in the room. Nice to have a stocked kitchen area."…"

Reviewed on Dec. 8, 2019

Red Lion Inn and Suites

Popular things to do in Gulf Islands

Butchart Gardens
Image for Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

4.5/5(636 reviews)

Inhale intoxicating fragrances and marvel at the dazzling colors of these gardens, which host engaging events and family-friendly activities.

British Columbia Parliament Building
Image for British Columbia Parliament Building

British Columbia Parliament Building

4.5/5(1,160 reviews)

Visit the legislative headquarters of British Columbia to admire neo-baroque architecture and murals depicting scenes from the province’s history.

Victoria Harbour
Image for Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour

4.5/5(1,727 reviews)

Old meets new as historic architecture, traditional fishing boats and contemporary performers crowd together at one of Victoria’s liveliest spots.

Royal BC Museum
Image for Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum

4.5/5(688 reviews)

Learn about the region’s human and natural history, visit some of the oldest buildings in the province and see a special collection of totem poles.

Victoria Fisherman's Wharf
Image for Victoria Fisherman's Wharf

Victoria Fisherman's Wharf

4.5/5(700 reviews)

Come to this working harbor to see its colorful floating houses, go on a kayaking trip or a wildlife-spotting cruise and enjoy a meal of fresh seafood on the docks.

Government Street
Image for Government Street

Government Street

4.5/5(1,165 reviews)

This central street attracts the crowds with its museums and galleries, historical architecture, shopping districts and Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

Top activities in Gulf Islands

Victoria by Seaplane & Ferry
Image for Victoria by Seaplane & Ferry

Victoria by Seaplane & Ferry

CA $289

Take a scenic seaplane flight of the Gulf Islands. Land in Victoria for a chance to spend the day sightseeing in this picturesque city, and return by coach bus onto the BC Ferries. Start your exciting day with a spectacular 35-minute seaplane flight over the Gulf Islands.

Daytrip from Seattle to Victoria on the Victoria Clipper
Image for Daytrip from Seattle to Victoria on the Victoria Clipper

Daytrip from Seattle to Victoria on the Victoria Clipper

CA $83

A short and scenic cruise through the Salish Sea takes you to Victoria, the perfect day trip destination from Seattle. Board a sleek, high-speed catamaran and set out for one of the most walkable cities in North America, where you can find a floral oasis at Butchart Gardens, historic buildings like Craigdarroch Castle, and delectable bites to eat along the beautiful waterfront.

Victoria Butchart Gardens Tour via Express Shuttle
Image for Victoria Butchart Gardens Tour via Express Shuttle

Victoria Butchart Gardens Tour via Express Shuttle

CA $74

Take in the stunning natural beauty of Butchart Gardens, a famous and admired attraction full of floral displays and stone paths. Embark on a narrated trip from Victoria in a luxury bus, and choose how long you want your trip to be with the freedom to pick from several departure and return times.

Craigdarroch Castle
Image for Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

CA $15

Take a tour of historic Craigdarroch Castle and learn the story of its principal founder, wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, the castle boasts more than 25,000 square feet (2,300 sq m) of detailed construction and majestic decor.

Guided Food & History Tour with Tastings
Image for Guided Food & History Tour with Tastings

Guided Food & History Tour with Tastings

CA $63

Indulge in an unforgettable food tour that lets you unlock the history of British Columbia's capital city. Journey past the Harmonious Gates of Interest, sample mouthwatering morsels in Bastion Square, and drink in the sights along the Inner Harbour Causeway, enjoying 6–8 samples along the way.

3-Hour Private Tour: Butchart Gardens and Saanich Peninsula
Image for 3-Hour Private Tour: Butchart Gardens and Saanich Peninsula

3-Hour Private Tour: Butchart Gardens and Saanich Peninsula

CA $53

The Butchart Gardens draw more than a million visitors to the Saanich Peninsula every year to experience world-class gardens and incredible scenery.