A tafone is a geological formation of sculpted rock, a tapovan is a forest of spiritual practice, and an angry cormorant growls like an oinking pig. So much to learn on Galiano Island! Long and skinny, Galiano is rather hilly, and destinations are spread out — perfect for exploring by e-bike.
Galiano Island seems to have two kinds of vehicles: trucks and Mercedes. The 1,044 residents are slow and respectful drivers who kindly share their narrow, lumpy roads with visiting cyclists. Designated rest areas allow cyclists to stop safely off the pavement.
Halfway between Vancouver and Victoria, Galiano is situated to attract travellers exploring the Canadian Gulf Islands. Traffic will certainly increase once summer arrives, but in early May, Galiano retains its rural, small-town ambience and laid-back vibe.
The lagoon and white shell beach of Montague Harbour and the views from Bodega Ridge and Mount Galiano get the most attention from visitors. For this visit, we decide to check out some of the less well-known parks and ocean access points.
All of the trails are named Peace. A stone staircase leads to a ridge with a viewpoint and a statue of Sri Chinmoy, to whom the park is dedicated. It’s a steep climb, but there are ropes for assistance. Along the trails are quotes on peace, life, and happiness, which inspire while allowing us to catch our breath.
Tapovan Peace Park is 200 acres of forested land off Porlier Pass Road. Trails and places of rest are being created by volunteers, who are hard at work as we return from our climb.
We sign waiver forms and collect PFDs in preparation for our Experience Galiano Day Tour with Gulf Island Kayaking. Cathy spies a Clipper canoe tied to the dock. May we take the canoe instead of a kayak? Chessi says yes. It’s a calm day, we are the only guests, and probably he doesn’t like to disappoint us old folks, for whom the canoe is clearly the boat of choice. Skyllar, our knowledgeable guide, loves her solo kayak; à chacun son goût!
Skyllar leads us on a well-designed route that explores the islands and the cliffs of Galiano. We see sculpted sandstone (tafoni formations), a cormorant colony, otters, eagles, seals, and lots of intertidal life. It’s an informative tour, and Doug’s smartphone says we covered a respectable 20 km on the water.
Other parks, viewpoints, and shoreline access points we visit for the first time:
- Spotlight Cove, where we meet a cyclist from Vancouver and get tips for our upcoming trip
- Retreat Cove, where Doug finds the well-Instagrammed cave
- Morning Beach, with fine white sand perfect for sand castles
- Whaler Bay, home port for commercial fishing and recreational boats
- Matthews Point Regional Park, with one official trail with views of Active Pass and vibrant wildflowers