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Plan Your Trip to the Gulf Islands


The Gulf Islands Marine Trail or Salish Sea Marine Trail can be enjoyed as one long expedition, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy just portions. Browse our our Gulf Islands Gateways for ideas for your trip to this paddling area. We do not give specific trails or routes at this time. It's best that you choose a gateway or launch point where you wish to start and plan your trip. We can also help with specific travel situations. Read on to find a situation that fits yours.

Our main map

It's a good idea to view the overall Gulf Islands area on our main map first to get an idea of where you wish to paddle. We also include a static map of the Gulf Islands Marine Trail to give you a rough idea where campsites and some launch sites are.

Arriving by car

The Gulf Islands Marine Trail has several entry points including Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Chemainus, Maple Bay and Mill Bay or you can travel to one of the main Gulf Islands.

Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo: A BC ferry travels on this route taking a little over one and half hours. You can consider launching into the north end of the Gulf Islands Marine Trail from Brechin boat ramp or nearby launches.

Tsawwassen to Duke Point: A BC ferry travels on this route from Twassawwen to Duke Point in two hours. Access Nanaimo or Ladysmith within a half hour of traveling.

Tsawwassen or Crofton to Salt Spring Island: You can reach Salt Spring Island by ferry both from Tsawwassen and Crofton on Vancouver Island. Salt Spring Island has several launches into the Gulf Islands.

Arriving by car from Washington and the U.S.

You may find it simpler to make your way to Victoria via one of the multitude of ferry connections:

Washington State Ferry - Arrive at Sidney, perfect for starting your trip of the Gulf Islands Marine Trail (or Salish Sea Marine Trail) from Tulista Park. You can then take the Tsawwassen ferry back from Vancouver to Swartz Bay. If done as a walk-on, paddle-off journey, you could paddle from Swartz Bay to Tulista Park to return by ferry. Perfect!

Blackball Coho ferry - Daily departures between Port Angeles and Victoria.

Helpful tips to leave the car behind

You can launch from a multitude of locations within the Gulf Islands Marine Trail to start your trip, but general problem is going to be you'll have to return to your car somehow. The solution is to leave your car behind! Here are a few options to help you on your way.

BC Ferries Walk-on, Paddle-off program: BC Marine Trails has put together a program in cooperation with BC Ferries to get you on your way without a car. Simply walk your kayak onto a ferry, then walk it off on the other side to your launch location. We've highlighted all the suitable terminals to make planning your trip easy.


GIMT articles

My Galiano Trip

My Galiano Trip

In mid-August Paul Grey and his friend Lyle decided to launch from Blue Heron Park and to just leave, strong Read More
Much Ado About An Outhouse

Much Ado About An Outhouse

....CELEBRATING THE BC MARINE TRAILS (photo by Bob Davidson) It was an ‘historic’ day for the BC Marine Trails….a day Read More
Salt Spring Island: Exploring

Salt Spring Island: Exploring

Spending the day with the author of Hiking the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, both a fellow hiker and kayaker, Read More
Newcastle and Protection Islands

Newcastle and Protection Islands

Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is a stone’s throw from the city of Nanaimo. Well, it’s slightly further, perhaps two Read More
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