Gulf Islands National Park & Salish Sea


Some people think they’ve “done” the Salish Sea or Gulf Islands if they’ve visited Victoria and Salt Spring Island. They’ve seen only the tiniest, most human-impacted snippet. Our trips leave off where the road ends …and delves into an odyssey through geologic and human timescales, alongside sculpted sandstone shorelines, moist rainforests and eagles soaring along rocky bluffs....

Explore Gulf Islands National Park Reserve


  • Learn about Gulf Islands National Park Reserve from expert guides.
  • Walk through grasslands and Garry Oak Meadows.
  • Visit old homesteads with fruit trees and rustic pioneer history.
  • Set sail (on the sailboat) through passageways.
  • Beach comb and explore the intertidal life with a naturalist.
  • Explore the region’s other wildlife, including whales, bald eagles, and other marine mammals and birds.
  • Experience the entirety of this unique region, by taking the time to get to know its rhythms and intricacies, through cruising by yacht and anchoring in special places each night.
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  • Moderate walking
  • Whale watching- killer whales (orca) & humpback whales
  • Small boat rides
  • Marine mammal viewing (sea lions) and bird viewing
  • Natural history through hands-on experience and talks with your naturalist
  • Village visit, cultural history, and experience
  • Sailing (on sailing ship)
  • Exploring beaches
  • Kayaking (optional)

Gulf Islands National Park


Nature & Landscape



Located in a rain shadow, the Gulf Islands have a very unique semi-Mediterranean climate that keeps the region drier than the rest of the BC coast.

This rare ecosystem is one the most endangered in all of Canada, making it a very important protected area for the conservation of rare species. One of Canada`s most recently designated parks, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is an innovative protection strategy that exists among established communities.

While the remainder of the coast remains cooler in the early spring months, the gulf islands are experiencing warm weather, budding flowers, and blue skies. Similarly, fall continues to be a mild time of year with beautiful changing colors.

Featured Wildlife

  • Killer whale / orca
  • Humpback whale
  • Dall’s porpoise
  • Sea lions
  • Harbor seals
  • Pacific white-sided dolphins
  • Bald eagle
  • Pacific salmon (in autumn)




Cultural History


Come to know the home territory of the Coast Salish First Nations. Learn about significant cultural sights and practices, and how alive and vibrant the culture is today. Possibly enjoy a visit with a Coast Salish Elder and dear friend of Maple Leaf Adventures. 

Two Seasons in the Gulf Islands

Our experienced crew and naturalist will take you to areas where you’ll be able to visit beautiful islands and witness wildlife events:

  • Spring highlights berry blossoms, wildflowers, and migrations of birds will greet you in the early spring months. Whales will be returning to the area, make possible the sightings of humpback and killer whales.
  • Autumn highlights marvel at the changing colors of the leaves as fall turns the islands from green to brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds. Pick apples from wild trees on islands where few visit. Watch sea lions, humpback whales, and harbor seals fill themselves on small fish.

See each trip’s sample itineraries for specific wildlife that it is customary to see in each season. Not all species are visible in all seasons. Also, wildlife have their own agendas and while we plan our trips in the peak season and areas for wildlife viewing, with very experienced guides, we do not guarantee sightings.


What Makes it Unique

  • Semi-Mediterranean climactic conditions that bring an early spring and warm autumn.
  • A network of protected areas throughout the Gulf Islands make up the National Park Reserve, a strategy that is ecologically and community minded.
  • Dry Rainforest with arbutus trees and Garry Oak Meadow ecosystems.
  • Unique island culture
  • Seabird migrations and the Southern Resident Orca population




Trip Itineraries

Gulf Islands, BC, Canada
Gulf Islands in Autumn

Golden colors of autmn line the islands at this time of year. Explore the island colors on hikes, beach walks, and tours through historic homesteads. Watch for killer whales, humpback whales, and other marine mammals. Enjoy sunsets and stunning anchorages....

Wines and Islands

Explore the breadth of BC wine, its people and place through this special tasting, culinary and nature adventure. Guided by our on-board experts, as well as other wine industry leaders and pioneers, each day you’ll learn about and taste the best wines...

Craft Beer & Culinary Cruise

Enjoy amber flavors under an autumn sky on this culinary cruise dedicated to BC's craft brewery ales. Learn historic brewing culture from expert while pairing craft beers with excellent culinary delights in a stunning island setting....

Gulf Islands in Spring

Walk through wildflower meadows, historic homesteads, and beautiful beaches this spring in the Gulf Islands. Home to southern resident killer whales and many marine birds, seals, and sea lions. Sail among ecclectic island communities....