Like Nanaimo, Gabriola Island and surrounding islands are on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

  1. Gabriola is northernmost island in the Southern Gulf Island chain and includes Mudge, DeCourcy, and several other small, uninhabited islands in its land area. Gabriola received its name through a mistake! In 1792, after the Spanish spent time on the island, they referred to its easternmost point as “Punta de Gaviola”. A century later, Gaviola was mistakenly transcribed as “Gabriola” by British mapmakers and it became the name of the entire island as a result.
  2. Gabriola’s resident population is 4,033 according to the 2016 Census. The population increases significantly from May to October; however, you will still find plenty of solitude on the island. It is not uncommon to have beaches and trails to yourself even at the height of the summer!
  3. Average annual rainfall is 958 millimetres with nearly 80% of precipitation occurring between October and March. The climate is classified as temperate with temperatures rarely dipping below 5 degrees Celsius in the winter and hovering in the low to mid twenties during the summer. There is an extensive dry season on the island when a fire ban is in place. The island’s water supply is made up of individual wells and innovative rainwater collection systems but can be limited depending on the area you are staying. Always check with your hosts about water use best practices.
  4. Gabriola has over 30 public beach access points, which is more than any other Gulf Island. From sand to pebbles to sandstone to driftwood, Gabriola has a diverse array of beaches with no two beaches alike. Water temperature is always classified as “cold” but during the summer months, sun and special currents can significantly warm the water. You can also experience bioluminescence in the waters around the island when the ocean will sparkle at night in response to any movement in the water. Clear nights and during the new moons in July and August are the best times to experience this amazing natural phenomenon.
  5. Gabriola has one of Canada’s highest concentration of artists ranking #6 for artists per capita. Artist studios are open year-round with the Thanksgiving Studio Tour being one of the best times to interact with artists and see where they create.
  6. Gabriola is 58 square kilometres in area, which is approximately the same size of Manhattan. The island is definitely rural though! The main roads are paved, but gravel and dirt roads are common. Default speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour and remember you are sharing the roads with pedestrians, cyclists, deer, wild turkeys, plus the occasional escaped goat, cow or sheep!
  7. Gabriola has nearly 100 kilometres of coastline over three islands and several islets. Access the coastline from any of the many beach access points, or through kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Discovering inaccessible-by-land beaches and secret coves around the island is always exciting.
  8. Gabriola is located just 5 kilometres from Nanaimo and is readily accessible by ferry. The 1982 “Quinsam” ferry has a capacity of 70 vehicles and 400 passengers. Ferry etiquette is always a hot topic on the island. Leaving the island via ferry is done through an unsupervised traffic lineup that begins in front of the Skol Pub, up the ferry hill, and down Taylor Bay Road. Remember to follow the designated U-turn routes to enter the lineup. The ferry cost includes your return trip, so no need to purchase passes or tickets to leave Gabriola.
  9. There are 158 kilometres of roads and over 170 kilometres of hiking trails on Gabriola. Driving the North-South Road loop takes approximately 35 minutes. If you plan to bike this loop, it is recommended you head down South Road so you can coast down the massive Brickyard Hill. The Brickyard Beast is an annual race up this behemoth that attracts runners from around the world. If you prefer to walk on the island, you can traverse nearly the entire island via hiking trails alone. The annual “Lunatics Walk around Gabriola” happens every summer when locals walk from the north end to the south end of the island via moonlight from 10 PM to 4 AM.
  10. Gabriola Island is home to three spectacular provincial parks: Gabriola Sands Provincial Park, Sandwell Provincial Park, and Drumbeg Provincial Park, as well as multiple regional parks and designated park areas including the Descanso Bay Regional Park, Coats Marsh Regional Park, and the 707 Community Park.