Top Island Escapes near Victoria, British Columbia

Galiano Island. Photo by Flickr/Andriy Baranskyy
Galiano Island. Photo by Flickr/Andriy Baranskyy

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, sits on the craggy southern end of Vancouver Island. While Victoria has plenty of its own charms, the neighboring islands around Victoria also have plenty to offer visitors.

The Gulf Islands

The Gulf Islands are five islands just a ferry ride away. These idyllic beach getaways come complete with rolling waves, white beaches and artisans’ studios. Pick from popular Salt Spring Island or one of the less-traveled islands like Pender Island, Mayne Island, Galiano Island or Saturna Island. Many artists call these islands home because of their inspiring beauty, so keep an eye out for local art in this creative atmosphere.

Salt Spring Island: This island is the most popular, and most populated, of the islands. With 10,000 residents, there isn’t a shortage of things to try and people to meet. Head to a farmers market, go for a hike or enjoy a picnic on the beach.

Mayne Island: This island is the perfect place to get away from it all. Even in peak season it isn’t crowded. This is the perfect place for a yoga retreat, to enjoy a leisurely bike ride past some sheep or to take a stroll through a local art gallery.

Galiano Island: If you like boating and lounging on the beach, this island might be right for you.  Boaters will enjoy mooring at Montague Harbour and taking in the incredible views.

Saturna Island: Whale lover? Check out this rural island, which is one of the best land-based places in Canada for whale watching.

Pender Island: Pender Island has a north and south portion, and both areas are laid back and picturesque. There is plenty to do here, from kayaking to going to a spa.

Hatley Castle. Photo by Flickr/Oriol Salvador
Hatley Castle. Photo by Flickr/Oriol Salvador


Westhore was the filming location for Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters from the X-Men movies. Only a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria, the school has gardens and plenty to explore. Visitors can also take a day-long kayak tour through kelp forests and intertidal zones.

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