gulf islands

Coffee Shops

The Best Coffee Shops for Island Vacationers


Mayne Island, Qualicum Beach, Pender Island, Parksville—Breakaway Vacations can help you find the perfect rental home for your Vancouver Island or Gulf Islands trip. There’s lots to see and do while you’re in the area, not least of which is to enjoy a steaming cup of joe at one of the many local cafes.

You can find a great coffee shop no matter where you find yourself on the Islands. Here are a few that stand out:



  • Sunny Mayne Bakery CafeSunny Mayne Bakery Café and the Miner’s Bay Ice Cream Emporium are locally and family-owned businesses based on gorgeous Mayne Island. While here, you’ll have fresh baked goods, homemade lunches, ice cream, custom cakes, take-out pizza, and more.
  • Shavasana Art Gallery & CafeSip some coffee or tea and wander through a local art exhibit—the two go hand-in-hand at Shavasana Art Gallery & Cafe. They have beautiful art and a down-to-Earth atmosphere. They serve 23 kinds of tea and a daily coffee. Note: They are only open May-through-September.



  • Slow Coast Coffee on Pender IslandWatch the ferries come-and-go with the beautiful ocean view at Slow Coffee. The cafe’s everyday menu items include crepes, dosas, and quesadillas, as well as daily specials on weekdays. You can even sit on the balcony, weather permitting.
  • Coffee + KitchenBe sure to call ahead for a reservation or arrive early if you want to check out Coffee + Kitchen; they fill up fast! They offer farm-to-table handcrafted food focusing on local ingredients and in the summer they even grow their own herbs and greens. Enjoy a coffee, tea, lattes, and more hot drinks as well as a made-fresh-daily lemonade.



  • Courtyard Cafe This cafe and crêperie boasts a welcoming and warm environment and a menu full of options, from crêpes, eggs, muffins, salads, cappuccinos, and more. The crêpes are easily the stand-out item and you can request them gluten-free and/or vegan. They serve both sweet and savory crêpes.
  • Oh So Yummy CafeDon’t let their minimalistic web presence fool you, the Oh So Yummy Cafe is not to be slept on! They sell homemade jams, homemade hot sauce, all-day breakfast, and more. They are truly the best-kept secret in Qualicum Beach so be sure to stop by.



  • Farmhouse Cafe and BakeryThis cafe and bakery has a modest selection of hot beverages but a great number of baked goods and snacky food items. The house blend coffee and flavoured tea offerings come with free refills so you can linger and relax. They bake farm-fresh bread so don’t forget to grab a loaf on your way out.
  • Rawthentic Ready for a unique “cafe” experience? Trade the regular old black coffee for an antioxidant smoothie, mint matcha latte, kombucha, or a wheatgrass shot. They serve raw food from an uber-healthy menu and are definitely one-of-a-kind on the Island. They have a kids’ smoothie menu, as well, so the whole family will be happy.


Quiet island life just isn’t the same without a steaming cup of coffee to sip while you enjoy the ocean view and slow beats of small-town life. We hope you have time to explore some of these great cafes during your stay.

fishing gulf islands

Fishing on the Gulf Islands


The Gulf Islands consist of over a dozen islands in the Strait of Georgia, off the coast of British Columbia’s mainland. The landscape is characterized by dramatic coastlines, beautiful beaches, and a diversity of plants and animals.

As for fishing, the Southern Gulf Islands offer some great salmon fishing year round. May and June are exceptional months for Chinook which are migrating to their home waters at this time. During the summer months and early fall you can catch all species of Salmon. Sockeye, Coho, Pinks, Chinook and Chum all pass through these waters as they migrate to their spawning grounds. The area is also very good for ground fish such as Ling cod and rock fish.

You will need a fishing license to go fishing. You can purchase your non-tidal/freshwater fishing license online through the government of B.C.’s website. In addition, you have to get a special stamp or an additional permit to fish for salmon legally. This is important not only to the continued general health of the aquatic ecosystem, but also for stocking and conservation programs. For all fishing regulations please click here. Of course, you will also need basic fishing tools such as a fishing rod, reel, bait, hook, bobber, and rig!

Tips for Salmon Fishing

 Fishing sometimes depends on luck. Still, there are some tips to fish salmon effectively.

  • Sharpen your hooks

Salmon have a very thick jawline so make sure that hook is razor sharp to increase your chances of a catch.

  • Choose the best bait for salmon

The most successful type of live bait for salmon fishing is to use roe (eggs). You can also use Flashtrap spinners, which is an artificial lure very effective to fish salmon.

  • Use a flashy item

Make sure your bait has something flashy attached to it to attract the fish. Salmon prefer low lighting conditions, so something that flashes will attract them in deeper, darker waters.

  • Use a red line

Certain colors disappear completely at deeper depths and the very first color that disappears is red. Your bait will appear more life-like if you use red line.

  • Fish in the clouds

Since salmon do prefer low lighting, overcast days are the perfect days to fish. If it is not overcast, dawn and dusk are optimal times, too. Try to avoid bright, sunny days, as the visibility of the salmon will be greater.


As long as you know these tips, you can have fun fishing on the Gulf Islands. Haven’t booked your accommodation yet?  Take a look at our Gulf Islands vacation homes and have a wonderful visit with us!


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

killer whale

Whale Watching on Vancouver Island


One of the most exciting Vancouver Island activities is whale watching. Whale watching season is very popular and tourists come from far and wide to see these magnificent creatures up close. The most common whales we can see around Vancouver Island are Orca (Killer) whales, Humpback Whales and Pacific Gray Whales. 

humpback whale

Orca (killer) whales              

The Orca (killer) whale is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. They have no natural predators and there are approximately 300 northern and southern residents and 225 transients in B.C./Washington waters. Researchers from around the world have been coming to Vancouver Island to study the Orca (Killer) whales for few decades and Orca whales in this region have become the best studied whales in the world. These whales are quite used to boats and will often let the whale watching boats come in for a closer look.

Humpback Whales               

The largest whales around Vancouver Island, the Humpback whales vary between 12-16 meters (39-52 ft). Humpback whales are equipped with a baleen which resembles thick strands of long hair which acts as a strainer to filter out plankton, krill, herring and other small fish. Humpback whales spend the summer months feeding as far north as Alaska, however there is always a good population around Vancouver Island.

Gray Whales

About 200 (resident) Gray Whales will stay and feed along the coast of Vancouver Island. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin.

The Best Timing…

The best viewing time is from May to October. Gray Whales migrate north along the west coast of Vancouver Island during March and April. You can view the whales by boat, or from mounted telescopes in the Long Beach area.

Where to spot them…

Orcas can often be spotted around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. Humpback whales and Minke whales may also be seen as in this area, as well as porpoises. During the summer months the local “pods” are in the area most days so if you happen to be in the right location you may see a fantastic show. 


Interested in Vancouver Island? Check out our selection of cottages at Tanglewood Beach Homes and Qualicum Landing –  AND have the perfect stay on Vancouver Island!

killer whale

Here are some local whale watching companies close to us!

Ocean Ecoventures

Sidney Whale Watching

Vancouver Island Whale Watch


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto


Introducing Mayne Island…

Mayne Island is in the middle of five large Gulf Islands. The Gulf Islands lie in the rain-shadow of the mountains of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula resulting in dry summers and mild winters. The climate, nice parks, beautiful beach accesses and hiking trails makes Mayne Island a perfect destination to visit all year round.

Japanese Heritage

Japanese Settlers had a successful tomato business in a greenhouse on Mayne Island until World War 2 when all the Japanese were forced to leave the west cost. Now, in this current location to honour these early residents and their contributions you will find the amazing Japanese Gardens at Dinner Bay Park. The Japanese garden has been developed entirely by local residents and can be viewed year round. During the holidays in December you will find the garden lit up with thousands of lights, and is free to view, although donations are welcome. On Saturday mornings, May through October, enjoy local produce, baking, crafts and other goodies at Mayne Islands Farmers market. The Farmers market is found at the Agricultural Hall in Historic Miners Bay along with a gas station, post office, grocery stores, restaurants and an ATM.


Beautiful Scenery

If you are one for beautiful scenery, Mayne island is the perfect place to come. At Georgina Point you can find a scenic Lighthouse park. You will see spectacular views right across the strait of Georgia. This lighthouse marks the entrance to the Active Pass and was first established in 1885. This area is now a park perfect for a small stroll, or a picnic watching the harbour seals, seabirds or the boats travelling by. The Lighthouse park is also one of the best spots on the Island to view the pods of Orcas as they travel through the Active Pass almost daily. Just recently established in the Gulf Island National Park Reserve is Bennett Bay Beach and Campbell Point. There is a beautiful scenic trail to Campbell Point and at the end of the point you will find a spectacular view of Mt Baker. Bennett Bay is one of the best Sandy beaches on the island and one of the most popular places to launch small boats and kayaks.

Wonderful Beaches

Mayne Island has 14 beaches that you can access. Many of which are very popular to swim in and the others are great for exploring. Piggott Bay, Bennett Bay and Campbell Bay are great beaches for swimming, and you will seldom find it crowd on hot days. Oyster Bay, Reef Bay, Naylor Road and Seaview Road are great if you’re looking for sandstone beaches and places to look for sea life. All these beaches are a great place to relax and watch the waves come in.

Interested in a visit to Mayne Island?

We have the perfect vacation rental for you: Mayne Island 02


Written by Megan Harder



Visit the local art galleries on Pender Island…


Looking for more activities on Pender Island?  These art galleries can be visited no matter what the weather is doing, so be sure to check them out! 

  • Talisman Books & Gallery, 4605 Bedwell Harbour Rd

    Your 2-in-1 shop – who doesn’t love a bookstore turned gallery? Here you’ll be able to search for the latest fiction, new and used, as well as view local artists’ paintings, sculptures, glasswork!  If you’re a literary lover or an artist yourself, there’s everything to love about Talisman Books & Gallery and absolutely nothing to hate.

  • Dorset Norwich-Young Studio & Gallery, 8986 Gowlland Point Rd

    For something really local, take a trip to the Dorset Norwich-Young Studio & Gallery. Here you can see Dorset’s studio and see examples of her vibrant, colourful art work! Summer visiting hours are 11-5 (Tues – Sat) or by appointment.  Winter visiting hours are by appointment only.

  • Blood Star Gallery, 9909 Jennens Rd

    Blood Star Gallery is located right near the ocean and offers beautiful views, so is worth a visit just for that!  The Gallery features the work of two artists – Susan Taylor and Frank Ducote – and is open most days 11-4 (April to November).

There are many artists on Pender Island, so you might just stumble upon other quaint shops or galleries – these are just a few to start you off!

Looking for a vacation rental on Pender Island?  Check ours out here!


Written by Hannah Poaros


Check out Pender Island’s Farmers’ Market!


On Saturdays from 9.30 am to 1.00pm.  Generally from Easter to Thanksgiving, though a smaller market with less vendors does continue throughout the fall and winter.  The Farmer’s Market takes place at the Pender Islands Recreation and Agricultural Hall.  Taste the flavours of the island when you attend.  Expect to see local craftsmen and farmers, vying for your attention with offering of fresh vegetables, flowers, cheese, eggs, baked goods, condiments, arts and everything else!


Buy fresh produce and support the local businesses!


Find the market at:

Pender Islands Recreation and Agricultural Hall,

4418 Bedwell Harbour Rd.


Written by Hannah Poaros


The Beaches of Pender Island

 Getting ready for your Pender Island getaway?  Well, here’s a list of beaches – rocky and sandy – to dip your toes into! There’s nothing like a warm summer’s day spent by the water.


  • Mortimer Spit:

    Accessible sandy beach, north of the bridge that connects North & South Island. This is the best location for swimming and sunbathing.  Most of Pender Island shoreline is rocky, so make the most of this sandy bay.

  • Medicine Beach:

    On North Pender Island, at the far end of Bedwell Harbour, you will find Medicine Beach & Nature Sanctuary.  As well as the beach which is perfect for taking walks, there is also a salt water marsh behind (one of the few left in the area) which is a nature sanctuary.

  • Stanley Point:

    Small but sweet, the beach at Stanley Point has great rock formations and brilliant views of the Swanson Channel.

  • Gowlland Point:

    For an exceptionally good viewpoint, head over to Gowlland Point on South Pender Island. There is a pebble beach here as well as lovely walks around the grassy headlands.  Expect to see beautiful views of Mt. Baker and the San Juan Islands!

  • Beaumont Marine Park:

    Beaumont Marine Park is fantastic for hiking and boating. There are many trails to choose from, and you will be rewarded with a sandy beach at the end.  Since this is a marine park, it is the ideal place to sit a while and watch for seals, otters and other animals.


Do you have a favourite Pender Island beach that’s not on this list?  Let us know, and we’ll be sure to check it out!

Haven’t booked your accommodation yet?  Take a look at our magical Pender Island vacation homes and reserve your dates today!


Written by Hannah Poaros


10 Things to do on Pender Island this Summer

Are you going to Pender Island?  We’ve rounded up the best 10 activities for you to take part in – have a look!


Hike the short trail to the panoramic lookout from the top of Mt. Norman – the highest point of Pender Island.  Located on South Pender Island, this short ascent will offer you gorgeous views across the Southern Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island.


Take a walk around Roe Lake – a beautiful freshwater lake that sits in the middle of a forest on North Pender Island.  Why not bring a picnic, sit back and enjoy the tranquility of your surroundings?

Disc Golf

For something a little different, try your hand at Disc Golf.  Pender Island Disc Golf Park comprises of 27 holes which take you through the trees and across to Magic Lake. Be competitive and let the games begin!


Though you cannot cycle on any of the trails on Pender Island, it is still worthwhile to hire some bikes and take a tour of the Island. Most of the roads are not that busy but be prepared, they are steep! Burn some calories and explore this golden countryside.


No holiday to Pender Island would be complete without getting onto the water.  The best way to explore the local gems is by kayak.  There are many routes, starting from Hope Bay, you can take that make for interesting day trips!  Watch out for orcas – there are regular sightings all through summer!  If you’re new to kayaking, Pender Island Kayak Adventures offers a range of exciting trips – there’s sure to be one that takes your fancy.


There are numerous private marinas and public wharfs available on Pender Island – no excuse not to take your boat on holiday with you.  Because Pender Island is situated admist the Gulf Islands National Park, you’re going to want to take advantage of your location at sea.  Days on the boat will certainly get you discovering all the local islands.


Discover Roesland park on North Pender Island.  Back in the 1920s, Roesland was a resort and so today, the park is littered with old cottages.  Look inside and make up stories about what would have happened here in the past.  This is also a lovely spot to watch for wildlife.

Scuba Diving

Anyone into diving?  We are and we’ve heard that the Pender Islands have some of the best diving in North America. While most dive companies run out of Victoria on Vancouver Island and so it may be difficult to organize a dive trip, there is always the option to charter your own boat. If you’re a seasoned diver then bring your own equipment (and your buddy!) – some locations, such as Tilly Point Caves, are shore dives so are easy access.  Bear in mind that Pender Island’s dive sites are more suited to experienced divers.

Watching Sunsets

Do you love sunsets? Well we’ve got the perfect way for you to watch one on Pender Island. Take a Sunset Stand Up Paddleboard Tour with Pender Island Kayak Adventures.  We guarantee this will be a magical experience even if you’re not into SUP!

Wine Tasting

Finish off your vacation with a wine tasting at Sea Star Vineyard.  The tasting room is open Wednesdays through to Sundays so make sure you pop in and try one of their vintage wines.  This vineyard is in a picturesque location overlooking the ocean, what could be more romantic?


Check out our Pender Island Accomodation and make sure to contact us on 1.877.778.6466 or 604.872.5466 to book your next vacation.