Ying D. on Gabriola Island:
“We had a very fun weekend touring Gabriola Island. Gabriola, although the flattest of the southern Gulf Islands, is definitely not flat. We had a good workout. You will encounter uphills and downhills throughout your loop of the island. The uphill and downhill are gradual and doable though. Most of the routes are decently paved. A hidden gem we discovered during this trip is Gabbie’s Cider and the orchard. The apples right from the tree and the cider are heavenly! Highly recommended. We also found our spontaneous short ride along Berry Point Rd to Orlebar Point very enjoyable (not part of the loop). It was a very scenic (along the ocean) and smooth (well paved route) ride.”
Brenda C. cycling Gabriola Island:
“My original plan was to do a solo cycle tour of Gabriola Island but decided to invite a few people along. In the end I did a solo cycle tour just as originally planned! I am not sure if it was the forecast of rain on Saturday or that it was only 2 days of a long weekend or that my trip included a Friday but nonetheless, I was happy to do the trip on my own.
I cycled from my home near Broadway and Granville and made it to Horseshoe Bay in 1.5 hours. I left extra early as I was not sure how long it would take me. The sun was rising and there were few cars on the road – it was a lovely ride. The 8:30 am ferry brought me to Nanaimo then then it was an easy cycle to Nanaimo Harbour terminal to catch the ferry to Gabriola. On the ferry I ran into the other Wanderung day cyclists who kindly offered that I could join them for the day. I knew I wanted to take my time checking out the island so I passed on the offer. I hope you guys had a great day! By 11:05 I was on the island and in less than 5 minutes I was at Descanso Regional Campground where I set up my tent and checked out the bay at low tide. Descanso is a very nice campground as far as car camping sites go. It is located in a nice forest area and, though there are no waterfront sites, it is a short walk to the water.
I spent most of Friday cycling along South Road stopping at beaches, checking out the petroglyphs near the United Church and the tide pools at Drumbeg Provincial Park. Gabriola is a nice island for cycling. There are constant rolling hills but overall, not too many steep climbs (South Road leaving the ferry terminal is probably the toughest climb). I had an early dinner at Silva Bay. I’d recommend the restaurant at the marina: a nice, large patio overlooking the marina; good food with vegetarian and gluten free options and cold beer! Oh, and there’s a liquor store next door if you should want to pick up a few bevvies for watching the sunset later. Just a suggestion! That evening as the sun set I checked out the rock formations at Malaspina Gallery and relaxed on a rocky point as sea lions swam by.
Saturday, after breakfast on the waterfront at Descanso Bay, I packed up camp (the friendly camp hosts allowed me to store my stuff at the office while I cycled the island for the day) then went to the Farmer’s Market. There were lots of edible goodies and talented artists. It’s a good spot to pick up a wedding gift! (Just sayin’…) The forecast for Saturday had been rain: wrong! As one of the other patrons of Mad Rona’s Coffee House said ‘there must be a sun pocket over Gabriola Island.’ It was another gorgeous day. I spent a few hours beachcombing at Sandwell Provincial Park. Over the 2 days I went to almost every beach on Gabriola, except for Whalebone Beach. Well, what did I find at Sandwell? Whalebones!!! Or maybe sea lion bones. Ribs, sternum, vertebrae and flipper bones. I called the visitors centre thinking that this was a unique find but when no one came rushing to see my discovery I realized that I am just a city slicker who should have been a marine biologist! That afternoon I caught the 3:15 ferry back to Nanaimo. It gave me plenty of time to walk along the promenade and enjoy an ice cream before heading to Departure Bay for the 5:20 pm ferry. Just as I boarded the ferry it started to rain. Thankfully, it cleared up by the time I reached Horseshoe Bay which allowed me cycle back home again as the sun set behind me. I was quite proud of myself for making this a fully self propelled trip – okay, I had some help from the ferries!
– Use a BC Ferries Experience card to save on fares and bicycle charges (I saved over $10)
– Camping at Descanso Regional Park: less than 5 minutes to the ferry terminal
– Check out the Farmer’s Market: High quality artisans and yummy treats
– Great beginner to intermediate cycle trip: there are hills but it’s not too challenging.”
Markus cycling on Gabriola Island:
“A fun, if sleep deprived, weekend was had by all. We enjoyed a nice sunny ferry ride out to Nanaimo and found a nice seaside bike route along the way from Departure Bay to the Gabriola Island ferry terminal.
After arriving on Gabriola we had a short easy ride to Descanso Bay regional camp ground and settled in for the night. Saturday was a good mix of sun and cloud as we made our way to the south end of the island. Along the way we stopped in at the Farmers Market, checked out Brickyard Beach, the petroglyphs (which would have been really disappointing but for the spontaneous frisbee match) and stopped at Drumbeg Provincial Park for lunch and enjoyed the neat rock formations, wildlife and gorgeous views. On our way back, we branched off the road to so some exploring of the trail network that run throughout the middle of the island (shout out to Ricki, Jeanette and Mary). Afterwards we stopped in at Robert’s Place for a well deserved meal and then back to the campsite for an evening of campfire and marshmallows.
Sunday greeted us with rain and so, after a short trip to see the Malaspina Gallerys, we made our way to the Ferry and home. Overall, I would say Gabriola is an excellent choice for a first time bike trip to a Gulf Island. Lots of amenities, conveniently located campsite near the ferry terminal, easy ride (Tip: bike the island counter-clockwise.) and lots to see.”