A short ferry ride from Nanaimo, Gabriola is known as “Isle of the Arts” thanks to the hundreds of artists, sculptors, photographers, writers and musicians who reside here. Pick up the Gabriola Loop map for cycling and driving tours that wind past numerous galleries and home studios. Relax on warm sandstone beaches, pluck mussels from the shore and hike the Petroglyph Trail in search of Coast Salish history. Plan visits for the Gabriola Theatre Festival in August and the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend studio tour.
Gabriola Through the eyes of the travellers
Things to do on Gabriola Island
- The “Isle of the Arts” earns the title courtesy of its resident population of painters, sculptors, photographers, glass artists, musicians, dancers and writers. Tour home art galleries and studios either by appointment or during regularly scheduled hours. Ferries from Nanaimo are extra busy during the annual Thanksgiving Studio Tour in October.
- Marvel at the wave-eroded sandstone formations at the Malaspina Galleries. Other natural must-sees include Sandwell Provincial Park, Brickyard Beach’s tidal pools, the Garry Oaks in Drumbeg Provincial Park and the view of Entrance Island Lighthouse from Orlebar Point.
- Swimmers, beachcombers and family picnic groups head for Gabriola Island’s parks (Gabriola Sands, Sandwell, Descanso Bay and Drumbeg included).
- Unwind body and soul by booking a range of innovative spa therapies. Visit an alpaca farm. Golf, fish and scuba dive. Sail a wooden boat. And get to the Farmers’ Market at 10 a.m. on summer Saturdays in time for the opening bell.
- Visit the Gabriola Island Museum to see the First Nations’ petroglyph collection. Copies of the Island’s most ancient artefacts are available for rubbings.