Southern Gulf Islands Romantic Getaways Guide For Couples

Are you looking for the perfect Gulf Islands romantic getaways?

I’ve been to some of these islands myself, as I live a ferry ride away. These stunning islands are full of natural beauty and offer many opportunities for couples to explore, relax, and reconnect.

While hundreds of small islands make up the Gulf Islands along the Strait of Georgia (between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island), these are the six most popular Southern Gulf Islands closest to Vancouver.

In this guide, I’ll cover all the best things to do and where to stay on the Gulf Islands for couples so that you can make the most of your romantic getaway.

Gulf Islands Romantic Getaways

From kayaking through crystal clear waters to hikes and cozy cottages by the sea, the Gulf Islands provide a romantic getaway you won’t forget.

Gabriola Island

Sunset view with pink and purple skies. The ocean looks calm and there are houses on  the inlet.

Known as the “Isle of the Arts,” Gabriola Island is the perfect Gulf Islands romantic getaway for couples. It has the highest percentage of working artists per capita in Canada and offers many volunteer opportunities.

You can take part in workshops like cheese making, kayaking, hiking at three provincial parks, exploring or visiting art galleries and festivals, or golfing.

Check out the stunning views of the Malaspina Galleries, also known as “The Galleries,” made by crashing waves carving out the sandstone for more than a millennium or explore the Folklife Village “The Village,” which was originally built for Expo 86.

Head down to Woodfire Restaurant and Catering, one of the island’s only restaurants for delicious food options.

Stroll down North Road to visit some locally owned shops and businesses. Farmers’ markets are held from May to October to purchase fresh-grown local produce, baked goods, eggs and more.

How To Get To Gabriola Island

While Gabriola is the furthest away from the chunk of the Southern Gulf Islands, the easiest route to get to Gabriola is from Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver.

You would take the BC Ferries to Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay, an hour and 40 minutes. Then, you’ll take another 20-minute small ferry ride from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island.

You could also take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Victoria. However, you’ll have to drive an hour and 35 minutes to Nanaimo, which would feel more like a Vancouver Island road trip instead.

Where To Stay

Page’s Inn is a beautiful seven-suite oceanfront accommodation. The suites have stunning views of Silva Bay, Flat Top Islands and the mountains. Spacious and comfortable guests will have a full kitchen or a kitchenette to cook in.

In addition, all seven of the suites have a large deck to sit on and enjoy the scenery or a morning cup of coffee.

Under the same company, Page’s Resort and Marina is another option if you prefer not to stay in a suite. Five beautiful secluded cottages with a view of either Silva Bay or a forest view, the one or two-bedroom cottages have fully stocked kitchens and large wrap-around decks.

Galiano Island

A sunset on a beach cove with calm ocean waves. There are many logs on the beach.

Galiano Island has the driest climate of all the islands and is one of the most popular Gulf Islands for romantic getaways. Located off the coast of British Columbia, this long and narrow island offers couples plenty of activities to explore together.

Some activities include whale watching, boating, kayaking, and golfing. You can also hike some trails, including Bodega Ridge or Dionisio Provincial Park, which offer stunning views.

You can also check out art galleries, a bookstore, and farmer’s markets. To explore further, you can rent a moped for the day.

Discover hidden gems like Galiano Island Caves. Explore Pebble Beach and Bellhouse Provincial Park before relaxing at one of their many spas or retreats.

Where To Stay

Galiano Oceanfront Inn

A beautiful upscale boutique hotel is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway on the Gulf Islands. Galiano Oceanfront Inn is an older but charming inn with suites or villa options for guests.

Suites have a woodburning fireplace (summer restrictions), guests are welcome to enjoy complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby, and complimentary breakfast baskets are available from the front desk from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Pets are welcome but are only allowed in certain rooms and are subjected to a $75.00 CAD fee.

Mayne Island

A dense forest with fog. There's many tall skinny trees and the ground is covered in moss, plants, and sticks.

A beautiful and peaceful Gulf Island is midway between Vancouver’s mainland and Vancouver Island. Mayne Island is the smallest of the Southern Gulf Islands at 21 square kilometres long.

As a couple, you can enjoy quality time together while participating in the island’s many activities, such as beach walks, hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

Discover the Japanese Memorial Garden, which pays tribute to the Japanese-Canadian community who played a significant role in Mayne Island’s history until World War II.

Or head over to Oyster Bay, where you can see BC Ferries coming to and from Tsawwassen Bay Ferry Terminal.

For more adventure, visit Georgina Point Heritage Point and Lighthouse or Campbell Point. If you’re feeling competitive, try disc golf at Dinner Park Bay.

For peace and quiet, spend an afternoon in St. John Regional Park or take advantage of all that nature offers at Miners Bay and Piggot Bay.

Remember to stop by Mayne Island Farmers Market, open every Saturday from May long weekend until Thanksgiving.

Where To Stay

Mayne Island Resort

Beautiful, quaint and romantic, the Mayne Island Resort is perfect for couples. Many people who have stayed at the resort have raved about the stunning views and an excellent spot to kayak on the Salish Sea.

Guests can book cottages, villas, or individual rooms. You can also enjoy dining at the on-site seaside Bennett Bay Bistro or the AquaFlora Spa. An indoor pool and hot tub are also available.

Pender Island

Sun setting behind a part of an island. There's a small island with a lighthouse on the edge. And in  the distance you can see a BC Ferry on the left hand side.

Pender Island is the second-most populous of the Southern Gulf Islands. This laid-back island is perfect for couples who like camping, as few restaurants, lodging, or shopping options are available, but that is part of its charm.

A one-lane bridge over a canal connects this two-island paradise. It offers fishing, scuba diving, boating, and kayaking. Plus, take advantage of the 27-hole disc golf or a nine-hole golf course if you feel competitive.

Take some time to explore hidden coves and bays or enjoy beautiful beaches like Mortimer Spit, considered one of the best on Pender Island.

Then, for a romantic evening out, head over to Hamilton Beach for beachside dining with breathtaking views.

Popular Hiking Locations On Pender Island

North Pender Island

A lovely seaside walk surrounded by Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees, Roesland is an excellent walk during the afternoon or while watching the sunset.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: ~0.5 Hours
  • Distance: 1 Kilometre (round trip)
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
George Hill Trail at George Hill Park

Hikers can enjoy views from the top of the George Hill Trail. This trail has an incline, and some sections may be steep or uneven. However, reaching the top is a rewarding experience. 

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: ~1 Hour
  • Distance: ~1.6 Kilometres (round trip)
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
South Pender Island
Mount Norman Trail

The highest hill on either of the two islands, the Mount Norman Trail, will give you a challenge and a good workout. The route is quite steep on the way up but makes it a faster route coming back down. On a sunny day, you can see other Gulf Islands in the distance from the top.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: ~1 Hour & 10 Minutes
  • Distance: 2.9 Kilometres
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash
Beaumont Trail – Gulf Island National Park Reserve

The gorgeous Beaumont coastline trail will give you a workout and a challenge. To find this hike, you’ll have to drive over the one-lane bridge and turn right immediately; behind a yellow gate is the park map. The starting point may be busy because it’s a shared beginning spot with the Mount Norman Trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: ~ 1 Hour & 45 Minutes
  • Distance: 5.4 Kilometres
  • Dog-Friendly: On leash

Where To Stay

WOODS on Pender Island is a stunning property that practically spoils guests with everything they need for a complete glamping or a rustic camping experience. Curtis, the man behind WOODS, is also the head chef.

When staying at the property, you have three options. The first is the WOODS Motel, the Rustic Cabins, and Airstreams. Nine Airstreams are available, and four adults can comfortably fit into one.

Salt Spring Island

Views during sunset of an inlet with boats docked in the water or on the extended small pier.

Salt Spring Island is the largest and most populated of the Southern Gulf Islands. It’s known for its picturesque scenery, quaint harbour town, and many activities, such as biking, kayaking, and hiking, which are just some of the activities on this fantastic island.

Ganges Village is a popular spot check out its shops, galleries, restaurants and the Saturday farmers market, where you can pick up some fresh baked goods and locally grown produce.

Explore Ruckle Heritage Farm, British Columbia’s oldest working farm or buy fresh artisan cheese made from goat milk from Salt Spring Island Cheese Co.

If you’re feeling adventurous, hike up Mount Maxwell Provincial Park for ocean views or Beddis Beach for a picnic with your special someone. For dinner, head over to Tree House Cafe, known for its unique atmosphere, or stop off at Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe after or before the ferry ride.

Where To Stay

Salt Spring Inn

“Old world charm” is best described by guests who stay at the Salt Spring Inn. While staying at this Inn exceeds the expectations of guests who stay with them, their sleeping arrangements are different than what you may be generally used to when staying at any hotel or Inn.

Seven rooms are available, three of which are deluxe rooms with a private bathrooms. However, the four rooms will have shared facilities with each other. Therefore, if you prefer to have your own facilities, booking in advance for a deluxe room will be your best bet if securing a room isn’t guaranteed.

A restaurant on-site is also available for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner needs.

Saturna Island

Saturna Island is a mountainous island home to a small population of 300 people. With its peaceful and quiet atmosphere, Saturna Island is the perfect romantic getaway for couples wanting to camp and explore nature.

While half of the island is part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, there are plenty of kayaking, cycling, and beach combing opportunities at Winter Cove Marine Park or Russel Reef Beach. From East Point, you can enjoy onshore whale watching or drive to Thomson Park to participate in disc golf.

There are no banks located on Saturna Island. Still, two ATMs are available at the Lighthouse Pub or the Saturna Point Store.

Where To Stay

Saturna Lodge is a historic building that once belonged to a mill manager’s home. Slyvia and Tex host the three-story lodge. Rooms can be rented out individually, and there are shared common areas. When entering the reception area, the large windows behind offer a panoramic view of the beautiful gardens and ocean.

Continental breakfast is included in the room charges and offered to overnight lodge guests. If you have any dietary restrictions, let them know, and they’ll do their best to accommodate your needs.

How To Get To The Southern Gulf Islands From Vancouver

These are the two ways you can travel to the ferry terminals.


If you plan to take a car to the islands, you must take the BC Ferries. Drive along Highway 99 South, and it will be about a 40-50 minute drive towards the terminal.

You can take ferries to any of the Southern Gulf Islands from Vancouver (Tsawwassen), except for Gabriola Island.


By transit, depending on where you’re coming from in Vancouver, you’ll want to get to the Canada Line and get off the train at Bridgeport Station. From there, you’ll want to find the bus stop at Bay 12 and get on the 620 Tsawwassen Bay Ferry Express bus.

What Is The Closest Gulf Island To Vancouver

Galiano Island is the closest Gulf Island to Vancouver and the easiest island to reach from Vancouver.

Why Is It Called Gulf Islands?

According to BC Geographical Names, the term Gulf Islands came from the Strait of Georgia (or Gulf of Georgia), named by George Vancouver while mapping out the archipelago’s southern parts.

However, the names “Southern Gulf Islands” and “Northern Gulf Islands” came later because of confusion people thought all the islands along the Strait of Georgia were considered to be the Gulf Islands when the name was only given to the southern islands.


As you can see, there are many things to do and places to stay on a Southern Gulf Islands romantic getaways. Explore the beauty and uniqueness of the six most popular islands, from Salt Spring to Saturna, and enjoy your romantic getaway with your significant other.

Have a good day 🙂