Want to get outta town for the day but don’t feel like going far? Gabriola Island is a great destination! I’ve been there twice in the past few months for different adventures. I’ll tell you about my favourite places starting with the two places that made the cut both trips: Mad Rona’s Coffee Bar and Malaspina Galleries.
First Stop: Coffee
Mad Rona’s Coffee Bar has an eclectic feel of a West Coast coffee shop (wood tables, metal chairs, blackboards) and the small community island vibe. The community board is filled with posters advertising upcoming art sales, writers readings, and Zumba classes. The menu looks amazing, as does the patio. On my most recent visit there, another patron recommended the trail mix cookie and I’m so glad she did! Chunks of chocolate are guilt free when combined with seeds and oats, right?
Second Stop: Malaspina Galleries
Although Gabriola is referred to as “Isle of the Arts“, Malaspina Galleries is actually a sandstone gallery made by the ocean (instead of the talented local residents!). There are a few ways to get to the galleries: park on the Malaspina Road and take the short trail or start your adventure at Descanso Bay Regional Park (which also offers camping) and walk through the trails and across a few roads. This walk takes about half an hour and offers a few interesting sights.
Yoga in a yurt? I’d love to!
We booked a private yoga class with Flo at Vijñana Flo Yoga, as we were unable to fit in a scheduled class on our day trip. Here, their Yurtland is a serene place and the yurt was warm, spacious, and cozy. Heated with a wood stove and situated in the woods, Yurtland was the perfect place to leave your personal world outside the door and focus on the moment. Flo was lovely and kind. We moved seamlessly with her instruction, releasing and moving our bodies through different shapes and left the class feeling restored and confident.
Craving a long walk on the beach? Sandwell Provincial Park is the perfect place for just that! Take a bit of a hike up the trail (pack light) and walk down the steep trail to the beach. When the tide is out the pebbly shore reveals a sandy bottom. If it’s warm enough, take off your shoes and squish your feet in the sand. We took our time walking to the end of the beach. Walking along the ocean brings a sense of calm and reflection. It’s one of my favourite places on Gabriola. Spend some time there, find a starfish, collect some crabs, and make memories.
Another park on the Island is Drumberg Provincial Park. Located on the southern tip of Gabriola, this park offers a much different experience than Sandwell. The trail follows the shoreline and ends on some beautiful large flat rocks. The view is incredible. Here you’ll see Valdes Island and some smaller Gulf Islands. The trail is an easy stroll and one enjoyed most with friends, family, or your best friend. We ran into several sweet dogs on our walk. Further along the trail, we found a swing on the beach. Weeeeeeee!
Time for a taste: Ravenskill Orchard & Gabbie’s Premium Cider
When I told my co-workers I was heading to Gabriola, one of them said, “Mind stopping at Ravenskill Orchard? I’d like two litres of apple juice. Na, make that four. It’s that great!”
Beyond the apple juice, this place is also great for their U-pick apples! With over 1000 trees and 25 varieties, you’ll be able to try apples not usually sold in grocery stores. There’s also bags of apples for sale at the shop. This orchard is also home to Gabbie’s Premium Cider. We tasted their semi dry and real dry varieties and we wound up picking up a few bottles for another time as well as grab some apples for the road.
Hungry? You have options!
You can try The Kitchen. Since you know how we like to eat local when we travel (like our local food adventure), we chose to check out The Kitchen for lunch. This trendy restaurant offers delicious home cooked meals, a large variety of drinks, and an old school turntable– feel free to change the record! We started our meal with their Baked camembert cheese with an entire roasted garlic bulb, fig jam and artisan bread. And yes, it was just as indulgent and rich as it sounds. I’m glad they Instagrammed it. What a hit!
Or you can try Robert’s Place. We stopped for lunch at Robert’s Place on my other trip. The first thing you see when you walk in: DESSERTS!! Robert’s Place offers a sit down diner, grab & go items, pizza, catering, and special food events. Robert must be busy! I enjoyed Jack’s Crispy Chicken Burger, which is a customer favourite. The staff was friendly and food was great.
Other Things to Explore
The Farmers’ Market is on Saturdays from 10-1. Over 70 vendors. It’s here you’ll find the real heartbeat of the community and be able to meet many of the local artisans. Read more about the market on our Top Ten Farmers’ Market post.
Local artisans. How can I talk about Gabriola and not mention the artists? Arts and culture are the core of this island. With almost two dozen local artists check the website for a DIY Studio Tour or attend one of the events on the calendar.
There are so many options for you to Get Out & Play on Gabriola! Have you been over to check it out recently? What are your favourite places?
Explore the island with us & show us some love!