It’s a stunning floatplane or ferry ride from Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, positioned between the mainland and Vancouver Island, just north of the American San Juans. Watch for pods of orca whales en route! Of the islands, Galiano is the quiet, laid-back one, with biking options and a terrific hike up Mt Galiano. For accommodations, the Galiano Inn is well located, right by the ferry landing. Salt Spring is the largest, featuring the artsy town of Ganges Harbour and those famous weekly markets. There’s great sea kayaking among the resident seals, whales, and sea lions. If you look in the crystal clear water, it’s also easy to spot brilliant orange and purple starfish. Hastings House Hotel is an elegant Tudor mansion on the water close to town, with spacious grounds and a fabulous chef.