Perhaps the most interesting and perfectly sculptured limestone formation on the Gulf Islands is located just south of the beach and picnic grounds at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park on Gabriola Island.
This grassy, open, breezy location on Taylor and Pilot Bays is rather unique on the islands, due to its manicured ambience. It’s an easy 2-km jaunt from the ferry dock at Descanso Bay to Gabriola Sands Park.
Walk along the beach at Taylor Bay to the must-see limestone formations, called the Malaspina Galleries. The hooded galleries, carved out of sandstone by natural elements, are 4 metres high and stretch for about 100 metres from just around the southwest tip of Taylor Bay along the rocky shoreline of the small park.
Exploration of the seaside formations is prohibited due to the deteriorating stability of the overhanging formations, and concerns for public safety. Engineers have cautioned that the distinctive landmark could soon start crumbling, as fissures have appeared on the overhang. At low tide, visitors can still stand on the foreshore at one end and look into the cavern, but the best way to view the Malaspina Galleries is by kayak.
The 6-hectare Gabriola Sands Provincial Park is an ideal location to stop for a picnic or take a stroll along the beautiful sand beaches. The park features two lovely sandy beaches and large manicured grassy lawns. This small day-use only park is a very popular local destination for swimming, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking. Designated salt water swimming areas can be found at Taylor Bay and Pilot Bay. Camping is not permitted in the park.
Facilities include 2 pit toilets (one on Taylor Bay beach and the other on Pilot Bay beach), picnic tables, a child’s play area, and drinking water from a hand-operated pump in the middle of the day-use area – water must be boiled.
Gabriola Sands Provincial Park is located on an isthmus dividing Taylor Bay and Pilot Bay, on the northwest side of Gabriola Island in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Access to Gabriola Island is by a 20-minute BC Ferry trip from Nanaimo on southern Vancouver Island to Descanso Bay.
The park is situated off Taylor Bay Road, a short distance north of the ferry terminal. From the ferry terminal on Gabriola, turn left on Taylor Bay Road and follow until you see signs for Gabriola Sands Provincial Park, located on DeCourcy Drive. The park is also accessible by boat.
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