The Ultimate Gulf Islands Romantic Getaways Guide For Couples: Southern Islands

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Are you and your significant other looking for the perfect Gulf Islands romantic getaways? Then you are in the right place!

As someone who has been to some of these islands, in this guide, I will cover all the best things to do and where to stay on the Gulf Islands for couples so that you can make the most of your romantic getaway.

These picturesque islands are full of natural beauty and offer endless opportunities for couples to explore, relax, and reconnect.

From kayaking through crystal clear waters to breathtaking hikes and cozy cottages by the sea, the Gulf Islands provide a romantic getaway you will not forget.

Gulf Islands Romantic Getaways

While hundreds of small islands make up the Southern Gulf Islands along the Strait of Georgia (between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island), these are the six most popular Southern Gulf Islands closest to Vancouver.

Gabriola Island

Gabriola Island is the further Southern Gulf Island but close to Nanaimo

Known as the “Isle of the Arts”, Gabriola Island is the perfect Gulf Islands romantic getaway for couples, with its high percentage of working artists per capita in Canada and many volunteer opportunities.

Take part in workshops like cheese making, kayaking, hiking at three provincial parks, exploring or visiting art galleries and festivals, or golfing.

Check out the stunning views of the Malaspina Galleries, also known as “The Galleries,” made by crashing waves carving out the sandstone for more than a millennium or explore the Folklife Village “The Village,” which was originally built for Expo 86.

Head down to Woodfire Restaurant and Catering, one of the island’s only restaurants for delicious food options.

Stroll down North Road to visit some locally owned shops and businesses. Farmers’ markets are held from May to October to purchase fresh-grown local produce, baked goods, eggs and more.

How To Get To Gabriola Island

While Gabriola is the furthest away from the chunk of the Southern Gulf Islands, the easiest route to get to Gabriola is from Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver.

You would take the BC Ferries to Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay, an hour and 40-minute ride. You will take another 20-minute small ferry ride from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island.

However, two alternative routes you can take. There is a ferry from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo, but it will take two hours.

You could also take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Victoria. However, you will have to drive an hour and 35 minutes to Nanaimo, which would feel more like a Vancouver Island road trip instead.

Where To Stay

Page’s Inn on Silva Bay

Page’s Inn is a beautiful seven-suite oceanfront accommodation. The suites have stunning views of Silva Bay, Flat Top Islands and the coastal mountains. Spacious and comfortable guests will have a full kitchen or a kitchenette to cook in.

In addition, all seven of the suites have a large deck to sit on and enjoy the scenery or a morning cup of coffee.

Page’s Resort and Marina

Under the same company, Page’s Resort and Marina is another option if you prefer not to stay in a suite. Five beautiful secluded cottages with a view of either Silva Bay or a forest view, the one or two-bedroom cottages have fully stocked kitchens and large wrap-around decks.

Galiano Island

Galiano is the perfect romantic Gulf Island getaway for couples who love hiking

Galiano Island has the driest climate of all the islands and is one of the most popular Gulf Islands for romantic getaways. Located off the coast of British Columbia, this long and narrow island offers couples plenty of activities to explore together.

From whale watching to boating, kayaking, golfing and more – there are endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Take time to hike some trails, including Bodega Ridge or Dionisio Provincial Park, which offer stunning views. Visit art galleries, the bookstore and farmer’s markets, or rent a moped for the day to explore further.

Discover hidden gems like Galiano Island Caves. Explore Pebble Beach and Bellhouse Provincial Park before retiring to one of their many spas or retreats. Galiano Island is ideal for couples looking for an unforgettable Gulf Island romantic getaway.

Where To Stay

Galiano Oceanfront Inn

A beautiful upscale boutique hotel is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway on the Gulf Islands. Galiano Oceanfront Inn is an older but charming inn with suites or villa options for guests.

Suites have a woodburning fireplace (summer restrictions), guests are welcome to enjoy complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby, and complimentary breakfast baskets from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM are available from the front desk.

Pets are welcome but are only allowed in certain rooms and are subjected to a $75.00 CAD fee.

Mayne Island

The Souther Gulf Islands are the perfect romantic getaway for couples looking to connect with nature

A beautiful and peaceful Gulf Island is midway between Vancouver’s mainland and Vancouver Island. Mayne Island is the smallest of the Southern Gulf Islands at 21 square kilometres long. Couples can enjoy quality time together with its many activities, such as beach walks, hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

Discover the Japanese Memorial Garden, which pays tribute to the Japanese-Canadian community who played a significant role in Mayne Island’s history until World War II or head over to Oyster Bay, where you can see BC Ferries coming to and from Tsawwassen Bay Ferry Terminal.

Check out Georgina Point Heritage Point and Lighthouse or Campbell Point for more adventure. If you are feeling competitive, why not try disc golf at Dinner Park Bay? For peace and quiet, spend an afternoon in St. John Regional Park or take advantage of all that nature offers at Miners Bay and Piggot Bay.

Remember to stop by Mayne Island Farmers Market, open every Saturday from May long weekend until Thanksgiving.

Where To Stay

Mayne Island Resort

Beautiful, quaint and romantic, the Mayne Island Resort is perfect for couples. Many people who have stayed at the resort have raved about the stunning views and an excellent spot to kayak on the Salish Sea.

Guests have the option to book cottages, villas, or individual rooms. Enjoy dining at the on-site seaside Bennett Bay Bistro or the AquaFlora Spa. And to top it off, an indoor pool and hot tub are available.

Pender Island

Pender Island is one of the islands part of the Southern Gulf Islands

Pender Island is the second most populous of the Southern Gulf Islands. This laid-back island is perfect for couples who like camping, as few restaurants, lodging or shopping options are available, but that is part of its charm.

A one-lane bridge over a canal connects this two-island paradise. It offers fishing, scuba diving, boating, and kayaking. Plus, take advantage of the 27-hole disc golf or a nine-hole golf course if you feel competitive.

Take some time to explore hidden coves and bays, or take advantage of beautiful beaches like Mortimer Spit, considered one of the best beaches on Pender Island. Then, for a romantic evening out, head over to Hamilton Beach for beachside dining with breathtaking views.

Popular Hiking Locations On Pender Island

North Pender Island
Roesland

A lovely seaside walk surrounded by Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees, Roesland is an excellent walk during the afternoon or watching the sunset.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: ~0.5 Hours
  • Distance: 1 Kilometre (round trip)
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
George Hill Trail at George Hill Park

Hikers can enjoy views from the top of the George Hill Trail. This trail has an incline, and some may be steep or uneven. However, it is a rewarding experience when you reach the top. 

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: ~1 Hour
  • Distance: ~1.6 Kilometres (round trip)
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
South Pender Island
Mount Norman Trail

The highest hill on either of the two islands, the Mount Norman Trail, will give you a challenge and a good workout. The route is quite steep on the way up but makes it a faster route coming back down. On a sunny day, you can see other Gulf Islands in the distance from the top.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: ~1 Hour & 10 Minutes
  • Distance: 2.9 Kilometres
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
Beaumont Trail – Gulf Island National Park Reserve

The gorgeous Beaumont coastline trail will give you a workout and a challenge. To find this hike, you will have to drive over the one-lane bridge and turn right immediately; behind a yellow gate is the park map. The starting point may be busy because it is a shared beginning spot with the Mount Norman Trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: ~ 1 Hour & 45 Minutes
  • Distance: 5.4 Kilometres
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash

Where To Stay

WOODS on Pender

WOODS on Pender Island is a stunning property that practically spoils guests with everything they need for a complete glamping or a rustic camping experience. Curtis, the man behind WOODS, is also the head chef.

You have three options to choose from when staying at the property; the first is the WOODS Motel. Queen-size beds in all eight rooms, and a pull-out couch in a few of the rooms as well.

There is usually a shared hot tub. Unfortunately, it is broken and cannot be replaced until further notice. But, there is a communal fire pit that is installed.

The second option is the Rustic Cabins. Again, you will have the option of choosing between three spacious cabins. They all have a kitchenette, bathrooms inside the cabins and a private hot tub.

However, for the cabins, between May to September, a minimum of three nights and for October to April, two nights are the minimum requirements to stay in the cabins. If you book cabin three from May to September, a little surprise called the Luna is an extra small mini RV type of sleeping space guests can use.

The third option on the property is the Airstreams. Nine Airstreams to choose from, and four adults can fit into one Airstream comfortably. All but one of the Airstreams, the Airstream Nest, have private hot tubs. In addition, certain Airstreams come with extra goodies that others do not have, so be sure to choose wisely!

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island has quite the food scene on the Southern Gulf Islands

Salt Spring Island is the largest and most populated of the Southern Gulf Islands. It is known for its picturesque scenery, quaint harbour town and plentiful activities.

Biking, kayaking, and hiking are just some activities on this fantastic island. Then, stroll through Ganges Village and check out its shops, galleries, restaurants and the Saturday farmers market, where you can pick up some fresh baked goods and locally grown produce.

Explore Ruckle Heritage Farm, British Columbia’s oldest working farm or buy fresh artisan cheese made from goat milk from Salt Spring Island Cheese Co.

If you are feeling adventurous, hike up Mount Maxwell Provincial Park for breathtaking views or Beddis Beach for a picnic with your special someone. For dinner, head over to Tree House Cafe, known for its unique atmosphere, or after or before the ferry ride, stop off at Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe.

Where To Stay

Salt Spring Inn

“Old world charm” is best described by guests who stay at the Salt Spring Inn. While staying at this Inn exceeds the expectations of guests who stay with them, their sleeping arrangements are different than what you may be generally used to when staying at any hotel or Inn.

Seven rooms are available, three of which are deluxe rooms with a private bathrooms. However, the four rooms will have shared facilities with each other. Therefore, if you prefer to have your facilities to yourself, booking in advance for a deluxe room will be your best bet if securing a room is not guaranteed.

A restaurant on-site is also available for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner needs.

Saturna Island

Saturna Island is a mountainous island home to a small population of 300 people. With its peaceful and quiet atmosphere, Saturna Island is the perfect romantic getaway for couples wanting to camp and explore nature.

While half of the island is part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, there are plenty of kayaking, cycling or beach combing opportunities at Winter Cove Marine Park or Russel Reef Beach. From East Point, you can enjoy onshore whale watching or drive to Thomson Park to participate in disc golf.

There are no banks located on Saturna Island. Still, two ATMs are available at the Lighthouse Pub or the Saturna Point Store.

Where To Stay

Saturna Lodge

Saturna Lodge is a historic building that once belonged to a mill manager’s home. Slyvia and Tex host the three-story lodge. Rooms can be rented out individually, and there are shared common areas. When entering the reception area, the large windows behind have a panoramic view of the beautiful gardens and ocean views.

Continental breakfast is included in the room charges and offered to overnight lodge guests. If you have any dietary restrictions, let them know, and they will do their best to accommodate your needs.

How To Get To The Southern Gulf Islands From Vancouver

Car

If you plan to take a car to the islands, you must take the BC Ferries. Drive along Highway 99 South, and it will be about a 40-50 minute drive towards the terminal.

Besides Gabriola Island, from Vancouver (Tsawwassen), you can take the ferries to any of the Southern Gulf Islands.

Transit

By transit, depending on where you are coming from in Vancouver, you will want to get to the Canada Line and get off the train at Bridgeport Station. From there, you will want to find the bus stop at Bay 12 and get on the 620 Tsawwassen Bay Ferry Express bus.

What Is The Closest Gulf Island To Vancouver

The closest Gulf Island to Vancouver is Galiano Island. Galiano is also the easiest island to get to from Vancouver.

Why Is It Called Gulf Islands?

According to BC Geographical Names, the term Gulf Islands came from the Strait of Georgia (or Gulf of Georgia), named by George Vancouver while mapping out the archipelago’s southern parts.

However, the names “Southern Gulf Islands” and “Northern Gulf Islands” came later because of confusion people thought all the islands along the Strait of Georgia were considered to be the Gulf Islands when the name was only given to the southern islands.

Conclusion: Gulf Islands Romantic Getaways

The Gulf Islands offer a variety of romantic getaways for couples looking to explore nature, take part in outdoor activities or relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

They provide the perfect backdrop for an exceptional experience with someone special. So now all you have to do is pack up your bags and start planning your Gulf Islands adventure today.

Have a good day 🙂