Located 1 km south of the Sturdies Bay ferry terminal is Bellhouse Provincial Park, a small but beautifully scenic piece of land that jets out over the water.
I like coming here to look around whenever I'm on Galiano. The park is small as far as provincial parks go - you can walk around the entire property in less than 10 minutes. The land actually used to be part of a farm owned by the Bellhouse family who donated it to the province in the 1960's.
So why bother visiting?
Bellhouse Park sits at the northern end of Active Pass - the narrow waterway between Galiano Island and Mayne Island. It's the gateway to the Gulf Islands and the most heavily used marine passage. You can sit at the rock croppings and watch the constant ferry traffic. When you consider some of the gigantic sizes of the BC Ferries, it can actually be an exhiliarating experience to watch them go by and see the wake crash into the shore minutes later.
But watching the BC Ferries go by is only part of it. Active Pass is also used by orcas (killer whales) and they can regularly be seen swimming offshore. And by regularly, I mean, once every few days you may see them for a short period of time, so it's really just a matter of luck. But you may also see other marine mammals, such as river otters and harbour seals.
For ecology buffs, Bellhouse Park provides a good example of native plant species on Galiano. There are huge gnarly Garry oak trees (the only oak indigenous to BC), ancient Douglas firs, and the spectacularly exotic arbutus trees with their peeling red bark and twisted branches (the only broad-leaf evergreen tree in Canada). On the ground grows indigenous salal, ferns, blackberries, Oregon grape, and invasive Scotch broom - a species introduced by British pioneers in the 19th century.
I would not expect to see much wildlife on land, although I did see many garter snakes during my most recent visit! And it would not be uncommon if you saw ravens or bald eagles in the sky.
Twice we've rented boats from Ralph and Rocky Moyle at Montague Harbour. They own a local cottage and the moped rentals. Really cool people and they have fantastic suggestions on where to go. Anyhow, for $40 an hour you can rent 17 foot motor boats to discover not only Galiano's coastline, but the splendour of the Gulf Islands in general.
Within 3 hours we were able to explore the uninhabited Prevost Island (at James Bay), the very scenic and hugely busy Ganges Harbour along Salt Spring Island (watch for the seaplanes overhead!), and the Ballingall Islets around Montague Harbour.
Ralph lets you know which areas are hazardous for boating (mostly due to hidden rocks/reefs), but he has fantastic suggestions - some beaches along Saltspring Island, a restaurant you can order from on Saltspring where you can pick up the food from the nearby dock, Retreat Cove and the sandstone caves, the Wallace Island Provincial Park, and even Bill Gate's mega mansion!
When the weather is sunny and the winds are calm, boating is definitely a fun way to experience the Gulf Islands. Definitely one of the most scenic places to go boating in Canada!