Gabriola Island


During our stay in Nanaimo, Tina convinced the group to take the short ferry ride to explore Gabriola Island. And we were all very glad she did!

Waiting for the ferry

Gabriola boasts more public beach access points than any other Gulf Island, which is impressive considering it’s only 6th largest island by area. We went for two of the most iconic beaches, which were only minutes away from the ferry.

Gabriola Sands Provincial Park

Gabriola Sands Provincial Park features not just one, but two fantastic white sandy beaches, one on either side of a narrow isthmus of land. Parking was somewhat limited even on this weekday afternoon.

Big Bro checking out the white sand on east beach of Gabriola Sands

We checked out the east beach first, and was immediately amazed. We then hopped across the road and crossed a lawn where a school of kids were playing, and reached the west beach easily.

The west beach was a bit busier and more open, but otherwise it’s another amazing beach.

We opted for the east beach for the afternoon shades and picnic table.

Prime spot on the beach

The water was very warm and clear, and I couldn’t wait to put in the paddleboard. Both Big Bro and Little Bro went on the board for a ride.

With the water so warm and shallow, I thought it would be a great chance for Big Bro to practice paddling on his own board. But he wasn’t feeling it that day.

After my passengers disembarked, I took the opportunity to practice step back turns and falling in. I fell in so many times at first, that a couple of other paddleboarders shouted “face forward!” I let them know that I was just fooling around and practicing, and not to worry because I was just falling into a wading pool depth with a sandy bottom.

Looking good!
Looking less good!

By the end of the practice session, I was able to alternate my feet and pivot turn in either direction. I even improved my stats to 25% chance of falling in (down from 70% when I started).

It was the most excitement I’ve had on the paddleboard for quite some time. I remembered the fun of pushing the envelope of comfort when I first started, as every paddle was exhilarating. As I gained more experience, the risk of falling in was reduced, so did the adrenaline rush. Doing fun drills like this rekindled that feeling for me.

Malaspina Galleries

After the Sands, we went to the famed Malaspina Galleries for the wave-sculpted sandstones.

The path down to the sandstones was basically a walking path next to a fence for a private home.

A lookout was already beautiful, especially with a passing ferry as the focal point.

Soon we came upon the clearing leading to the galleries. To see the galleries, you would have to climb down the sandstone. With a little help, it was not too difficult for our 2 and 4 year olds. This makes the visit to the galleries wheelchair and stroller inaccessible though.

The sandstone platform itself was already pretty interesting for the kids.

We headed for the galleries for a closer look at the naturally formed sandstone cave. We were a bit weary because the cliff was quite close.

The geological wonder was a sight to see. Walking under the rocks does come with risk though, since the site is under constant state of erosion. Eventually the roof would collapse. As with everything else in life, it’s a risk/benefit assessment that one has to make for oneself.

With only an afternoon on Gabriola Island, it was clear to us that we need to spend more time here. Perhaps we would come camping one day in Descanso Bay Regional Park and do a beach hopping tour.

This is a part of our 2022 BC Coastal Circle Tour. Read on!


5 responses to “Gabriola Island”

  1. Next time check out Sandwell Provincial
    Park- even better then Twin beaches.
    And Alpaca farm. Thank you for reminding me about this beautiful island, we used to go there every summer.

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