Score: 78

Scattered across the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, the Gulf Islands enjoy a surprisingly dry and balmy climate. "Residents generally place a high importance on the quality of the environment and the way of life on the islands," and tourism is sustainably managed.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Wonderful mix of breathtaking scenery, functioning local communities, and a close-to-the-ground tourism experience. I hope that the region understands the delicate mix and continues to achieve equilibrium."

"Environmental and ecological quality varies but is generally well controlled by islanders, who serve with park-warden zeal. Some islands have terrific annual festivals and unique museums. Lots of natural aesthetic appeal, good infrastructure, and small-scale grassroots tourism. Creation of a marine national park around parts of the Gulf Islands has been great for natural protection."

"Relatively laid-back and tranquil. Many of the islands are upscale enclaves for artists, writers, and the well off, resulting in high real-estate values. No mass tourism development."

“Tourism is appropriate to the area—sea kayaking, whale watching, fishing, indigenous cultures. Visitation is increasing with lack of management plans. Small islands communities are working to protect their way of life.”

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