A sub-Mediterranean climate in Canada? Yes, indeed. And that makes Pender Island, a tranquil spot in British Columbia's Gulf Islands, a multi-season getaway. The destination is full of bed-and-breakfasts and boutiques and offers a bounty of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Pender Island is just four miles north of Stuart Island, one of Washington state's San Juan Islands, and is popular with Canadians but little known by Americans.
Canada's maple leaf flag flutters in the ocean breezes on what, despite the name, are two islands linked by a narrow, one-lane bridge. There's no public transportation, so taxis ferry guests between the two islands and their various attractions.
With the waters of the Salish Sea never more than a seashell’s throw, marine activities such as sailing and scuba diving are popular, as is relaxing on one of the many beaches. Pender offers more than 30 beach access points, the most of any of the Gulf Islands. Whales and other marine life can often be seen.
The ocean provides the inspiration for the White Tara Healing Arts Spa. Sea salt, mud and seaweed are among the natural ingredients that are harvested locally for use in various treatments.
Lodging ranges from simple cabins to oceanfront inns. More information is available on the local Chamber of Commerce's website.
Given Pender’s isolated location, getting to the island becomes part of the adventure. BC Ferries operates regular, year-round services. Sidney (Victoria) is 40 minutes away; the trip from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) takes two hours. During the peak summer months, reservations are advised.
Kenmore Air offers May to September flights to Pender from the Seattle area.