Known as the "Isle of the Arts" Gabriola Island is home to dozens of world renowned and emerging artists. Blessed with one of the best climates in Canada, diverse beaches, nature parks, stunning ocean views and incredible sunsets, Gabriola is home to 4,200 residents which almost doubles in summer. Regular commuter ferry service means easy access to and from Nanaimo. But even with the city so close, Gabriola has maintained its laid-back, Gulf Island lifestyle set in a blend of forested and rural landscapes. Many who visit Gabriola do so to unwind, do some beach combing, play on the water, visit the many local galleries and shops, hike, bike, take in some of the Gabriola culture and make some perfect memories with friends and family.
Parks in the area include:
Coats Marsh Regional Park - In 2008, a long-time Gabriola landowner used the federal eco-gift tax program to help The Nature Trust of BC and the RDN acquire and protect 44 ha of environmentally sensitive wetlands and forest. Coats Marsh Regional Park is the first protected wetland on Gabriola, an under-represented category in the Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory for the southern Gulf Islands which only have 1.7 per cent of their land base in wetlands. The balance of the new regional park contains second-growth Douglas-fir forest that will now be able to mature to old growth status in tandem with the woods of the large 707 Community Park next door. A rough trail network within the property lets you explore the sensitive habitat.
Descanso Bay Regional Park - Camp by the sea all year round at Descanso Bay Regional Park on scenic Gabriola Island. Descanso Bay Regional Park is located at 595 Taylor Bay Road, only a short distance from the ferry terminal. The Regional Park offers 32 camping sites on a beautiful 40-acre oceanfront property. Two oyster bays provide many delights for kayakers and other boaters as well as picnickers, campers and hikers. The Regional Park is also adjacent to the 113 acre Cox Community Park which has a network of trails through a well established forest setting.
Drumbeg Provincial Park - One of three provincial parks on Gabriola Island, Drumbeg is a favourite spot for diving, hiking, nature viewing and picnicking. Overlooking scenic Gabriola Passage on the east end of the Island, Drumbeg offers excellent views of the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains on the Mainland. The park contains a kilometre long sand and pebble beach with striking sandstone and conglomerate rock formations, which can be seen at low tide.
Drumbeg Park protects endangered Garry oak ecosystems, undeveloped Douglas fir forest landscapes and a diverse marine zone. Species such as Bald eagles, Great Blue herons, harbour seals and American oystercatchers can be spotted here, along with a number of intertidal creatures. Underwater enthusiasts can dive from the shores of the park, or head out to Rogers reef by boat and still stay out of the strong currents that run through Gabriola Passage. Facilities at this day-use only park include a grassy field, pit toilets, picnic tables, hiking trails and an information shelter.