I ask the owner of the bookstore on Galiano Island what type of people live on the island. He responds: “50% freaks, 50% rednecks. So, I reckon, just like the States.”
Kidding aside (or was he?), the driest gem of the Gulf Islands in BC is a mere 40 minute ferry ride from the Vancouver Tsawassen ferry, and is one of the only places that brings out the creepy Gollum “my precious” in me.
Hoarding information is lame and not really my thing. That is why I would be a crappy mushroom forager and get fired if I worked for the CIA, but every once in a while, I encounter a place so special it makes me want to keep it all to myself.
I will tell you about Galiano, but promise me you will forget to ever go here, and never mention this to anyone except your significant other and 10 of your closest friends.
Galiano Island has every element I look for in a vacation:
1) Good food: We make our first stop a few steps from the ferry terminal at Sturdies Bay Bakery and Cafe. Debating on whether or not to go with the Carrot Soup or the Spectacular soup (yes, it is really called that), one of the island locals offers me some sage advice, “You can’t go wrong, dear. Everything on the island tastes so good.”
And that is how the weekend went with hit after hit ranging from duck confit pizza on Oceanfront Inn’s wood-fired pizza patio to the restaurant’s rack of lamb for dinner.
Le Berengerie, a bed and breakfast located in a forested southern part of the island, wins me over in the fine dining arena with cuisine from the owners’ homeland of Provence, France. Bright blue and pink psychedelic art hangs above traditional white embroidered tablecloths to give this spot an inviting hippie European farmhouse vibe.
2) Mad scenery: If you are like me and a sucker for a view, this island will be your mecca. Competing views vying for your attention will come from hiking to the top of Mount Galiano and hiking along Bodega Ridge, although my favorite views is from my campsite at Montague Harbor.
3) Activity: Hiking, golf, spa. Sign me up. With a population of ~1,000 people, Galiano makes Orcas Island seem like the big city. This narrow 27.5 kilometers long island somehow manages to encompasses the key activities I seek out on vacation.
4) And here is the clincher: NO CROWDS and dry weather. Granted, May is still considered the early season, but I haven’t had a paradise to myself like this since my backpacking days. The weather could have been an anomaly, but while it was rainy in Seattle, my man and I were busting out our shorts, flip flops, and 40+ sunscreen.
No, this isn’t the spot if you are looking to get your kegger on with your rowdy mates or if you are looking for human-made stimulation. This is the spot for non-fussy travelers craving a serene paradise to disconnect and unwind. Galiano is a place where you can name all of the businesses in under 10 seconds, where the restaurants shut down early, and you get this last frontier vibe that the people are all here to get away from it all.
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