Scattered between Vancouver Island and the mainland lie several hundred tiny islands, most no more than lumps of rock, a few large enough to hold permanent populations and warrant a regular ferry service. Two main clusters are accessible from Victoria: the Southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands, both part of the same archipelago, except that the San Juan group is in the United States.
You get a good look at the Southern Gulf Islands on the seaplanes from Vancouver or on the ferry from Tsawwassen – twisting and threading through their coves and channels. The coastline makes for superb sailing, and an armada of small boats crisscrosses between the islands for most of the year. Hikers and campers are also well served, and fishing is good, with the surrounding waters holding some of the world’s biggest salmon. The climate is mild and the vegetation is particularly lush. There’s also an abundance of marine wildlife (sea lions, orcas, seals, bald eagles, herons, cormorants). All this has made the Gulf Islands the dream idyll of many people from Washington State and BC, whether they’re artists, writers, pensioners or dropouts from the mainstream. For full details of what’s happening on the islands, grab a copy of the Gulf Islander, distributed on the islands and the ferries.