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San Juan Archipelago


Southern Gulf Islands

The southern Gulf Islands include hundreds of islands and islets. The major islands in alphabetical order are:

  • Gabriola Island
  • Galiano Island
  • Kuper Island
  • Mayne Island
  • North and South Pender Islands
  • Saltspring Island
  • Saturna Island
  • Thetis Island
  • Valdes Island
Northern Gulf Islands

The major islands in alphabetical order are:

  • Denman Island
  • Hornby Island
  • Lasqueti Island
  • Texada Island

Cortes Island, and Quadra Island are sometimes considered part of the Gulf Islands, but as they are not in the Georgia Strait they are more properly considered part of the Discovery Islands.

Looking ahead

Both the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands which make up the San Juan Archipelago have been inhabited seasonally for about 2000 years. They were used as summer homes by people of the Lummi, Samish, and Songish tribes. Today, about 60 of these islands are still populated, though in most cases, sparsely.8

While they are located in a northern region, they lie in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and have a moderate and relatively dry climate. The temperature is moderated by the sea and they are protected from winds and storms by virtue of their relative enclosure within the straits.

Until the 1970s, the islands were quiet and little known outside the Pacific Northwest. In the 1980s, they began to attract tourists and became a popular destination for ocean cruises. The population density however, remains low.

Surrounded by sheltered waters, strong tides, and dramatic coastlines, coupled with a pleasant climate, varied marine life, and unobstructed views, they will continue to offer a peaceful retreat for many. While they have summer resort development, their relative remoteness places somewhat of a guarantee against over-development of year-round habitats; a positive aspect for the natural environment.


  1. ↑ R.G. Gustafson, et al. November 2000. Environmental History and Features of Puget Sound, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  2. US Geological Survey. USGS GNIS: Strait of Georgia Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  3. ↑ John E. Roberts. 2005. A Discovery Journal of George Vancouver's First Survey Season on the Coasts of Washington and British Columbia, 1792: Including the Work with the Spanish Explorers Galiano and Valdés (Victoria, B.C.: Trafford, 2005, ISBN 9781412070973), 72.
  4. 4.0 4.1 US Geological Survey, USGS GNIS: Strait of Juan de Fuca Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  5. ↑ Kathryn Carlson, Habitat loss and invading exotic species are threatening what remains of the native vegetation found in the Garry oak ecosystem, Canadian Geographic. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  6. ↑ James W. Phillips, Washington State Place Names (Seattle: Univ. of Washington, 1972, ISBN 0295951583).
  7. Université de Montréal, Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the United States of America.-Signed at London, 20th October, 1818. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  8. San Juan Islands Guide, The San Juan Islands. Retrieved February 20, 2009.


  • Canadian Geographic. Come to the Islands. February 20, 2009.
  • Downen, Mark R. 1996. Environmental History and Ecology of the San Juan Archipelago. Bellingham, WA: Huxley College of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University. OCLC 49752934.
  • Gardner, Mark. 2001. The San Juan Islands: Crown Jewels of the Pacific Coast. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. ISBN 9781570612817.
  • Johnston, Martina. 1927. The Acquisition of the San Juan archipelago. OCLC 41704325.
  • Parks Canada. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Retrieved February 20, 2009.

External links

All links retrieved August 31, 2019.

  • The Gulf Islands Guide
  • Maps of the Gulf Islands A collection of Interactive Maps and photographs of the Gulf Islands