Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The Gorgeous Gulf Islands
The Gulf Islands consist of over a dozen islands in the Strait of Georgia, off the coast of British Columbia’s mainland. Some of the most popular islands include: Denman, Salt Spring, Mayne, Pender, Galiano, Saturna, and Hornby. These islands enjoy a mild, sub-Mediterranean climate year round. The landscape is characterized by dramatic coastlines, beautiful beaches, and a diversity of plants and animals.
The Gulf Islands rich, natural beauty is one of the reasons why visitors keep coming back every year. The extensive sea life includes Orcas, dolphins, seals, a variety of fish and kelp, which provides a habitat for sea lions. Garry Oak ecosystems which are largely extinct can be found in the Gulf Islands. There are many conservation strategies in place on the islands to protect these endangered ecosystems.
The Gulf Islands is home to many provincial parks that work towards conserving the untamed beauty of this region of BC. Bodega Ridge Provincial Park on Galiano Island is offers breathtaking scenery. The islands high cliffs are home to bald eagles, falcons and turkey vultures. Another provincial park on Galiano is Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park, which is home to the lovely Shell Beach. All over the Gulf Islands you will find parks with rolling hills covered in wildflowers, lush forests and calm beaches.
Galiano Island is one of the most popular of the Gulf Islands. On the west coast discover the naturally formed sandstone caves. This island is on the flight path for many different bird species, so it’s a birdwatchers paradise. There are numerous provincial parks and multiple hiking trails. Long, sandy beaches are perfect for beach combing, swimming or simply relaxing under the sun. This is a perfect destination for nature lovers, avid hikers or someone simply looking for a relaxing getaway.
Pender Island is another popular Gulf Island. Pender Island is actually composed of two islands: North Pender Island and South Pender Island. The north is much more populated and has many shops and restaurants while the south is more rural and less populated. This island is a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts as you can see pods of Orca, deer, seals and eagles. In the summer, many visitors come to enjoy the warm weather and the many local events such as art exhibitions, concerts and plays. Pender Island is a perfect getaway for families and couples. Some popular activities on Pender include sea kayaking, hiking, and visits to the winery and the spa.
Salt Spring Island is the most popular of the southern Gulf Islands. Salt Spring boasts a beautiful landscape with vast meadows and amazing vistas. The island is home to many sheep and deer, however, cougar and bears have been known to travel over to Salt Spring from Vancouver Island. Hiking and mountain biking are two popular activities on Salt Spring and one of the most popular trails is leading up to Bruce Peak. Ruckle Provincial Park is the largest Gulf Island provincial campground and a great place to take kids on a camping adventure.
Many visitors have taken advantage of the Gulf Islands stunning beauty by capturing it in photographs. If you enjoy photography, there are several photo tours which operate on several of the islands. The Gulf Islands are a great place to try many outdoor activities. Try biking, fishing, golfing, hiking, tennis, skydiving, kayaking, diving, swimming, rafting, sailing, horseback riding, parasailing, roller blading and so much more!
If you’re not an outdoorsy type there are plenty of fairs, markets and exhibitions as well as museums and historic landmarks to keep you entertained.