By Michelle Hopkins, Travel Writer
Surrounded by white-shell beaches, and miles of forest trails, Galiano Island is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you are into hiking, mountain biking, walking, bird watching, kayaking, swimming, sailing, beachcombing, or all of the above, you’ve come to the right place.
This past winter, I was on this skinny, 19-mile-long Southern Gulf Island for a wellness weekend getaway. I was here to recharge my batteries, unplug from technology (as much as possible), and take care of my mental and physical being. I’m part of a growing trend of travelers who are not only getting out of the city for some R&R, but specifically for a wellness escape.
According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, released by the non-profit Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness is no fleeting trend. This burgeoning market is arguably a certified way of life. In fact, the GWI predicts “wellness travel” will reach $919 billion US by 2022.
Although vacations may be all about relaxing, one based on wellness has shown to lead to increased mental clarity, a slimmer waistline (and who doesn’t love that!), and returning home with more energy than when you left. For a more holistic wellness journey, travelers, like me, are increasingly looking to connect with destinations through nature and spa’ing.
Within a five-minute walk from the ferry terminal at Sturdies Bay, I was at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa. Immediately, its waterfront location induced a sense of wellbeing.
These days, most people don’t want to be separated from their iPhones, unless of course when you are wrapped in the softest bath robe heading for a massage. The resort offers a unique experience at its Madrona del Mar Spa. How you ask?
Imagine this: you are cocooned inside a cedar cottage nestled within a lush garden featuring a waterfall and pond. Then, enter a cozy retreat offering up even more reason to bliss-out with candles, aromatic scents, waterfall sounds, and flowers.
I opted for the hour-long blackberry port (from Salt Spring Island Vineyards), massage. Afterwards, I curled up in a comfy chair enjoying a glass of this smooth port.
The wonder here was relentless. The next morning, I awaken to nothing but blue skies beaming down over the cobalt-blue waters. Lacing up my hiking boots, I headed to Bodega Ridge Provincial Park. An easy 30-minute hike up and I’m on the top of Galiano, walking along a rocky ridge more than 1,000 feet above the sea.
Another great hike is to the top of Bluffs Park, at the south end of Galliano, where I had front row seats to spectacular views of Active Pass, which separates Galiano from Mayne Island.
Rounding out my adventure was a three-hour Gulf Islands Kayaking paddle. What’s more fun than navigating sheltered waters catching sight of sea lions frolicking in the waters, while seals lions appear to look at you with complete, could it be, disdain, as they sunned themselves on a rock? I can’t think of too many things…
All too soon, my weekend getaway was over. I came back home feeling refreshed, in mind and body.