Did you know that there are more than 40,000 islands in BC? And while you can’t visit all of them, there are around 40 Gulf Islands that are accessible by ferry from Vancouver, and they’re home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country.

So if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, consider hopping on a ferry to one of these 10 most popular islands in BC.

Vancouver Island


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Home to our provincial capital and the surf capital of Canada, Vancouver Island is by far the most popular, accessible, and diverse island experience on this list. From the rugged coastline to old-growth forests, there are plenty of city and natural attractions to explore, including the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Victoria’s Butchart Gardens, hiking and kayaking in Ucluelet, and whale watching tours.

Quadra Island

Accessible by ferry from Campbell River on Vancouver Island, Quadra Island is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking trails, kayaking, and whale-watching tours available. Known for its diverse spread of wildlife, Quadra Island is a must-visit for lovers of nature and history alike – with cool heritage sites like the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park to check out.

Gabriola Island


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Located just off of the east coast of Vancouver Island, Gabriola Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in BC, and has an amazing arts and culture scene. Visitors can check out some cool murals and mosaics, annual cultural events like the Salmon BBQ or Celtic Music Festival, and explore the natural landscape by way of hiking (check out the adorable Gnome Alley trail!), biking, canoeing, and even golfing.

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Hornby Island


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With thriving local art galleries, quaint cottage stays and bed-and-breakfasts, and scenic campgrounds to explore – Hornby Island is the perfect choice for any type of island getaway. Visitors can learn about the island’s history of First Nations heritage at the Hornby Island Museum and Archives, and indulge in delicious local seafood at one of their many restaurants – from Thatch Pub to the Sea Breeze Lodge Restaurant.

Denman Island

This small island in the Strait of Georgia is known for its quiet, laid-back beaches and vast outdoor recreation opportunities. If you’re looking to slow things down in a calmer, less touristy environment – Denman Island is your pick.

Mayne Island


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Also part of the Gulf Islands, Mayne Island is a stunning spot, popular among hiking enthusiasts and beach lovers. Despite its small size of just 21 square kilometres (and a population of 1,000), visitors can see the work of many talented artisans, including at their two most popular events of the year: the Mayne Island Fall Fair and the Mayne Island Music Festival. And if you’re a fan of good wine, even better, because there are several local vineyards and farms you can visit.

Cortes Island

Situated just north of Quadra Island, Cortes Island is a peaceful and remote destination that offers a range of outdoor activities, from kayaking and boating to exploring Smelt Bay Provincial Park and Carrington Bay Park.

Galiano Island


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Galiano Island is known for its many hiking and cycling trails, from Bodega Ridge to the challenging Mount Galiano trail. One of the most popular and scenic options is the Bluffs Loop Trail, which takes hikers on an hour-long journey through rocky terrain to lookouts with panoramic ocean views, where all the gulf islands can be seen.

Salt Spring Island

Now we come to one of the largest and most popular of the Gulf Islands: Salt Spring Island. Home to a diverse arts and food scene. Visitors can check out their buzzing outdoor Saturday market with over a hundred vendors (April to October), and hike exciting trails up Mount Maxwell and through the forests of Ruckle Provincial Park. Oh, and fueling up with local cheese at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company!

Pender Island

And finally, we come to Pender Island – a popular choice among boaters and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Visitors can book a range of kayaking tours, golf courses at the Pender Island Golf and Country Club, and swim at Medicine Beach. As well, you can check out annual events like the Pender Island Fall Fair, Lantern Festival, and the Pender Island Blues Festival this June.

So there you have it, BC. If you’re looking to make an island escape sometime soon, this is a great list to start with.