by Jennie Sutton
Galiano Island is a short BC Ferries ride from Swartz Bay. Remember your BC Experience card for a major discount on fares. And if a Senior, travelling mid-week is free for you (not your vehicle!). The few stores and shops and the one gas station are a short drive from the ferry terminal at Sturdies Bay. Galiano Island is a very laid-back island with minimal amenities.There is only one road which connects the south and north ends of this long and narrow island. It is mostly forested with some lovely trails… some short trails leading to beaches and some trials climbing up for stunning views.
I stayed at Driftwood Village, a short drive from the ferry terminal and only minutes from Active Pass. The self-contained cabins are well spaced apart on a large property…the studios, plus 1 and 2 bedroom cabins are more than adequate, very clean and they have electric heat. Some also have wood stoves.
There are other accommodations which can be found on the internet or via the kayak friendly website at www.kayakfriendly.com
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park has a large campground.
*Take your own drinking water as Mayne and Galiano Islands well water generally does not taste that great!
a. Hiking- there are well marked trails at Bodega Ridge Provincial Park (fantastic vistas along a long ridge), Bluﬀs Park, Mt Galiano, etc.
b. Cycling- The main road is paved and the ferry end of the island is hilliest. Be aware that the Bluﬀ Road loop has some very steep sections and is mostly dirt!
c. Kayaking- The most scenic parts of the Galiano Island coastline are along the west side and through both Porlier and Active Passes.
d. Eating! There is a wonderful bakery just up from the ferry…good coﬀee and home- made goodies, both savoury and sweet! I did not check out the pub.
e. Shopping- there is a bookstore and a store with clothing and accessories, new and
I used two sites which were easily accessible for a solo paddler as well as for multiple paddlers.
Spotlight Cove - is one of the main road about 24 kms from Driftwood Village. There is a short, easy access trail to the water. Great at medium to higher tides and muddy at lower tides, but do-able! Good parking (for several vehicles) oﬀ the main road.
Cain Beach - very near the ferry terminal, and easily accessible.There is a short sandstone slope down to a gravel beach, good at all tide heights. There is parking on this dead-end street.
Montague Harbour Marine Park - There is an easy access boat launch and long gravel beach at the edge of the camping area, with lots of free parking.
There are a number of other small launch sites for 1-2 paddlers and these are shown on a brochure produced by CRD named “Galiano Island- Shore access trails and public parklands”.
Launching from Montague Harbour Marine Park
Paddle south and explore the pretty cliﬀs to Active Pass. There is one small beach near the start of the cliﬀs for a break.
Paddle out to Parker Island and the other smaller islands in front of the harbour and explore.
Combine 1&2 for a fuller day paddle.
Launching at Spotlight Cove (or at the public wharf north of there)
Paddle north, cross Porlier Pass, past Blackberry Point to enjoy the stunning Valdes Island cliﬀs. Blackberry Point is an “unoﬃcial” large campsite for kayakers and makes a great lunch spot.
Paddle north through Porlier Pass to Dionisio Park where there is a long beach and a large upland campsite. One could paddle back the Valdes Island side of the pass on your return.
Paddle up to Porlier Pass, cross Trincomali Channel (be aware of winds as well as current from Porlier Pass) over to either Reid or Hall Island and explore the Secretary Islands and the north end of Wallace Island. Be sure to circumnavigate the small, private Jackscrew Island with it’s many marvellous totems! Cross back to Galiano Island and enjoy the impressive high cliﬀs below Bodega Ridge back to the launch site. There is a nice beach on the SW end of Jackscrew Island for lunch ( a private island but the beach is out of sight of the house …stay below the high tide line!), or lunch at the campground on the north end of Wallace Island.
Launching at Cain Beach
Paddle north along the Strait of Georgia side of Galiano Island.
Paddle through Active Pass with the assistance of an ebb and explore the cliﬀs heading towards Montague Harbour as described above. Return with the start of the ﬂood. Monitor Channel 11 for Victoria Traﬃc to keep track of the BC ferry traﬃc. There is a large sandy beach partway through the pass on the north side.
The chart to use is #3463.
I suggest staying 3-4 nights so that you can enjoy some kayaking as well as some hiking and relaxing! The cycling is for the hardier types who enjoy hills…a friend recently told me that Galiano Island was the reason e-bikes were invented!!
Jennie Sutton October 2021