helpful information

about Gabriola Island

Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island, photo by Bill Pope

Gabriola island information

Gabriola Island has a permanent population of just over 4,500 with a large number of seasonal visitors. The combination of a beautiful and precious natural environment, and a rich collection of artists define community life on Gabriola. There’s always something going on—from live theatre to art-show openings, house concerts to poetry readings, public art to painting classes. 

Isle of the Arts

Gabriola Island has the fifth highest concentration of artists in Canada—an amazing range of visual artists, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, and actors live and work on this inspiring island. Browse through our Creative Directory to meet some of the fine artists who call Gabriola home.

Traveling to Gabriola Island

Gabriola Island is one of the southern Gulf Islands, located in the Strait of Georgia (also known as the Salish Sea), between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. Gabriola is approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles)—a twenty-minute ferry ride—east of Nanaimo, a small city on central Vancouver Island.

By sea and air

There are many ways to get to Gabriola Island. Here are 4 routes we recommend.

BC ferries

From Vancouver, take a ferry to Nanaimo (approx 2 hours) and a 2nd short ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola (approx 20 minutes). 

Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and foot passengers are welcome on BCferries – see bcferries for fare information.

From the Vancouver area, BC Ferries offers two routes to Nanaimo. The Duke Point/Tsawwassen run takes 2 hours, and the West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay)/Departure Bay takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Information about bus service to and from BC Ferries can be found here.

hullo ferry

The fast ferry hullo is now in operation. Board the ferry on foot in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour (downtown) and arrive in the Nanaimo harbour in just 75 minutes. 

Upon arrival in Nanaimo, walk 15 minutes to the nearby Gabriola Ferry terminal, and walk on to the approx 20-minute ferry to Gabriola Island operated by BCferries.

Hullo is a passenger-only service. No vehicles. Read more about what is and isn’t allowed on board here. 

float plane to Gabriola

Fly directly to Gabriola with Gulf Island Seaplanes, which operates direct seaplane flights from Downtown Vancouver and YVR South*. In one short 20 minute flight you’ll arrive at Silva Bay on Gabriola Island direct from Vancouver.

*YVR South is Vancouver Airport’s float plane dock on the Fraser River, across the road from South Terminal. Connection between airports is available via a shuttle.

fly to Nanaimo

Several airlines offer flights into Nanaimo Airport, about 20 km south of the city of Nanaimo. From the Nanaimo airport, a taxi or the Nanaimo Airport Shuttle can take you to the Gabriola Ferry Terminal.

Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes offer scheduled flights from Vancouver to Nanaimo Harbour, landing a convenient five-minute walk from the Gabriola Ferry Terminal. Float plane flights leave Vancouver either from the Vancouver Airport (YVR) or from downtown Vancouver.

getting around on Gabriola

gertie bus

A volunteer driver service available Monday through Saturday. For information and updates on schedules and fares see the Gertie website

Gabriola taxi

where to stay on Gabriola

Gabriola has fabulous lodging for individuals, couples and groups. View the Chamber of Commerce Lodging Suggestions

Gabriola Map by Tourism Gabriola ( Pick up a printed map at the Visitor's Center.
man and woman baking traditional bread in an oven on Gabriola Island, BC
Slow Rise Bakery, photograph by Bill Pope

what services are available

Gabriola Island has many of the services and amenities you need. 


We have wonderful restaurants and cafés, a grocery store and health foods store, a gas station, liquor stores, beautiful and comfortable places to spend the night, three incredible art galleries highlighting local and regional art and many opportunities for shopping—almost anything you’ll want to purchase is available right here. We have an emergency medical clinic, ambulance service, a dentist, a pharmacy, and many other health and wellness services. 

Check out our supporters for information about the businesses that support the Gabriola Arts Council and our island’s artists.

Arts & Cultural Organizations on Gabriola Island

Gabriola Chamber Ensemble

Contact: Sue Gould at

Meets the 2nd Thursday and last Thursday of each month, at the Library.

In our Creative Directory you can search for a Gabriola artist by name, genre or medium. See over 900 pieces of art in the online catalog.

Contact: Judith Madsen at

Life Drawing Gabriola

Life Drawing Gabriola is run on an informal basis by volunteers. For more information contact Joan Eamer at (325-7476)

Meets the last Friday of each month, at the Library.

Does your arts & culture organization belong on this list? Let us know at

Gabriola Events Calendars

When you join the Gabriola Arts Council you receive our exclusive members-only news, discounts and calls for entry. Don’t miss out – with a newsletter featuring artist profiles, events, workshops, exhibitions, and opportunities for artists delivered every second Wednesday. Another reason to join GAC today.

A great resource for finding out what’s happening on Gabriola is the Chamber’s Calendar of events.

other community calendars

what’s happening in Nanaimo