Top Things To Do and See on a Vancouver Island Sailing Adventure

Vancouver Island coastline

Nature-rich diversity. Enchanting beauty. Rugged wilderness. Canada’s Pacific Northwest beckons to the scenery-driven seafarers. Whilst cruising among the deep blue hues of Vancouver Island’s sailing grounds, you’ll drink in dramatic waterfalls, navigate remote fjords and explore lush forests dominated by coastal Douglas firs. On a bareboat adventure, prepare your senses for otter spottings, whale watching and even a chance sighting of a grizzly or black bear or two.

Most yachtsmen regard the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound like the most beautiful cruising grounds in British Columbia, and we could not agree more. For a snapshot into how to discover this striking destination the way, it was meant to be seen, get your bearings with these 8 unmissable travel highlights catered to those discovering Vancouver Island from the helm of their own equipped yacht.

Boats in Vancouver harbour

1. Discover the saltwater eco mashes on Sidney Split

Among the Gulf Island’s best-cruising destinations, Sandy Sidney Spit is ideal for a spot of hiking, crabbing, birdwatching and enjoying superb summer sunsets. Some areas of the island are protected for preserving saltwater marshes and fragile dune ecosystems, although the tide pools and beaches on the east side of the island are the top spots for exploring and beachcombing.

2. Take in views from South Pender Island

Anchor up against South Pender Island to relish the beautiful beach and lush forest of Beaumont Marine Park before hiking up Mount Norman for fantastic views of the Gulf and San Juan Islands.

Vancouver Island nature

3. Go waterfall-hunting at Christie Falls

Stop off at Ladysmith’s Harbour (originally Oyster Bay) on the east coast of Vancouver Island to take a delightful hike around a light loop trail to Christie Falls.

4. Whale watching in Montague Harbour

Near the south end of Galiano Island, settle into Montague Harbour, the oldest marine park in British Columbia. Kayaking is by far the liveliest way to explore the park’s calm waters and coastal scenery. This provincial playground is also home to a floating nature house that boasts a transparent floor for a magical observation experience into the sea life below. Replenish your energy after a full day of activities dining at Pilgrimme, an authentic wood cabin restaurant with cuisine inspired by their passion for the environment.

Montague Harbour sunset

5. Explore the artisan town of Ganges

Stop off at Salt Spring Island to discover Saturday’s unmissable farmers market located at oceanside Centennial Park in the heart of Ganges. This special market treats visitors to an assortment of ingenious local creations by world-class artists and organic farmers. Afterward, stroll the artisanal town for more opportunities to swoon over gallery after gallery of fine art and treasures.

6. Take in vibrant floral displays of Butchart Gardens

Nestled in the heart of Brentwood Bay, discover the millions of plants of over 900 varieties that flourish at Butchart Gardens. Designated a National Historic Site of Canada, this dreamy, floral oasis boasts more than just garden attractions, offering boat tours, ice skating and rides aboard a kid-friendly hand-carved carousel. Nearby, you can pack in your hiking shoes for a stroll down the Tod Inlet Trail to enjoy a beautiful, easy pathway stroll to a glassy inlet of water.

Butchard Gardens

7. Turn back the time at the Royal BC Museum

One of Canada’s greatest treasures, the Royal BC Museum lies on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island. Take a trip down curiosity lane and enjoy the museum’s interesting artifacts, documents, and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history.

8. Discover unlimited beauty on Saturna Island

Slow down with the laidback pace of Saturna Island which offers everything an outdoor enthusiast seeks. Hike up Mr. Warburton Pike to take in views of eagles soaring and seals or orca swimming. Kayak and boat tours are available by an on-island outfitter to view the magic scenery around Saturna’s coast or to cross currents to neighboring islands of Cabbage and Tumbo.

Teeming with enough natural splendor to fill your on-the-water holiday twice over, the rich oasis of the Salish Sea could be the destination for your next inspired sailing voyage. Need help locking in your adventure? Our well-traveled Holiday Planners would be happy to help lead the way.

Author Name: 
Ryan Smith