Some of the province’s smallest islands hold the biggest surprises — and they’re just a quick ferry or floatplane trip from several of BC’s city centres.
BREAK FOR BOWEN
A short hop from West Vancouver, Bowen Island is a favourite of kayakers and mountain bikers. If you’re hoofing it, Off the Beaten Track excursions (with Bowen Island Tours) follow secluded paths through waist-high ferns and towering cedars to a nice payoff: tasty eats at Artisan Square. Before you head back to the mainland, stop in at Shika Provisions, steps from the pier, for matcha and chocolate mochi muffins, Japanese-inspired rice bowls and grilled rice balls. bowenislandtours.com; shikabowen.com
Galiano is home to the rugged headlands, tidal lagoons and white shell beaches of Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park. It’s home, too, to some serious indulgences. Galiano Oceanfront Inn’s Madrona Del Mar Spa embraces the elements, incorporating sea salt, seaweed and glacier clay into its healing treatments. Rejuvenated, head to the inn’s private seaside rooms or visit the award-winning Pilgrimme Restaurant nearby for inventively executed local ingredients (think lightly cured albacore with beets, apple and smoked eggplant), paired with BC wines. galianoinn.com; pilgrimme.ca
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
A Salt Spring Island adventure usually involves a visit to the Salt Spring Saturday Market. Chock-a-block with potters, jewelers, woodworkers, farmers, food producers and chefs, this weekly gathering, April through October, hits the sweet spot for homespun goodness — evidenced by the vendors’ “make it, bake it, grow it” credo. More artisans can be found year round on self-guided Salt Spring Island Studio Tours, featuring painters in their studios, local wine, and freshly baked goods, while the Tuesday Farmers Market, June through October, is a veritable showcase of farm-fresh bounty. saltspringtourism.com/the-saturday-market; saltspringtourism.com/studio-tour; saltspringtuesdaymarket.com
INTO THE WOODS
Like the idea of camping more than the harsh reality of roughing it in the great outdoors? The luxury camp-style resort WOODS on Pender has an eclectic mix of tricked-out Airstreams, Retro Trailers, Rustic Cabins, Modern Sleeping Pods, Glamping Tents and Lodge Rooms. Set on three hectares (7.3 acres), WOODS blends Mother Nature’s rustic good looks with the modern comforts of home — plus killer menus from the onsite urban-style restaurant Coffee + Kitchen. If you fancy the nectar of the Gods, head to Sea Star winery to taste their crafted wines, and say hello to the resident "lawn-mowing" sheep. woodsonpender.com; seastarvineyards.ca