I just spent a day on Gabriola Island and in a word it was very relaxing. Gabriola is a large scenic gulf island – just a 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo, BC on Vancouver Island.
Gabriola Island is 14 km (9 miles) long and 4 km (2 miles wide), has many parks and is a wonderful place to unwind. It was a beautiful summer day but not too hot. The average summer temperature is a very comfortable 22 C (72 F). Even in the winter the temperature seldom goes below freezing. No wonder over 4,000 people call Gabriola Island home all year round.
Exploring Gabriola Island
There are a few different ways but our route was simple. The ferry lands on the west side of the Island near the norther tip. We took the South Road which takes you down the west side of the Island to the southern tip, and then it connects with North Road which takes you back up the Island on the Eastern side. Then we explored the northern tip of the Island. Here are some the highlights.
Drumberg Provincial Park
A couple of killometers off the South Road took us to Drumberg Provincial Park which is the southern tip of the Island. Off the South Road you go right on Stalker Road and just follow the signs. It is a narrow dirt road for the last portion, so we had to pull over to let oncoming cars pass. There is parking for about 20 cars and the beach was not crowded at all. A few boats went by but I don’t think there is much anchorage.
The main actvities are sun bathing, swimming, hiking, picnicing and scuba diving. There are trails leading both right and left. The left trail goes up a small bluff with a great waterfront view of scenic Gabriola Passage, the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains on the Mainland.
Silva Bay on Gabriola Island Southern Tip
Silva Bay is at the southern end of Gabriola Island fronting Georgia Straight and is sheltered by the Flattop Islands. The Silva Bay Marina is right out of a postcard – calling it beautiful would be an understatement. There is even shipyard school where you can learn how to build wooden boats. One of the operators, Silva Bay Kayak Adventures offer dinghy and kayaking rentals ad guided adventures.
The Descanso Bay Regional Park is on Taylor Road, a short distance from the ferry terminal. The oceanfront park activities include boating, sun bathing, swimming, kayaking as well as overnight camping. The Descanso Bay Park is next door to the larger Cox Community Park which has a number of hiking trails.
Entrance Island Lighthouse
North of Gabriola Island is the Entrace Island Lighthouse at the mouth of Nanaimo harbour. The lighthouse build in 1875 provides important navigation aid to kayakers, boats, sea planes and even the annual collection of bathtubs racing around the harbour.
The lighthouse, with its white tower rising 20 meters (65 feet), and brightly color roofs is very picturesque against the blue ocean.
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