Vancouver Island Bucket List for 2020
As we welcome in 2020 we hope your new year resolutions are filled with lots of adventures and getting out in nature.
If you are looking for some ideas on where to travel on Vancouver Island – why not check out our 2020 Bucket list for Vancouver Island. Filled with lots of nature, great food and some stunning coastline – Why wait, come visit this year!
Here is our top things to do on Vancouver Island when you are planning your road trip.
11. West Coast Trail
So technically you can’t drive this but you can drive there so we are adding it to our list.
Vancouver Island’s west coast was called the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’ by sailors due to its treacherous rocks and headlands. In 1907 the dominion lifesaving trail was created to facilitate the rescue of shipwreck survivors along the coast.
Now called the west coast trail, take a step back in history and explore the stunning 75kms section of rugged coastline. The trail is only open between 1st May and 30th Sept, for more information visit the west coast website.
10. Take a whale watching tour
Vancouver Island is known for some of the best whale watching. You can take a tour in many of the places you might be visiting, like Tofino, Telegraph Cove, Campbell River or Victoria.
Victoria has a lot to offer, from wandering the stunning Butchart Gardens to enjoying a high tea at the historical Empress hotel. The provincial capital of British Columbia and has a history deeply entwined with its British past that is shown through in the Victorian architecture. It is worth spending a day or 2 exploring this city and the surrounding area, especially if you are a fan of gorgeous gardens or a bit of a foodie, Victoria does not disappoint for both savoury and sweet tastes in your party.
This vibrant community is nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort Mountains. This small village has seen a recent revival from its mining days, it is rich in trails, arts and culture. If mountain biking is your thing then there are a couple of rental shops and more than 80 kilometers of Vancouver Island’s most legendary single-track. There really is something for every mountain biker in the family. If Cumberland is your choice then we recommend sampling a donut from Cumberland bakery and a cold crisp beverage from the Cumberland Brewing Company.
7. Fairy Lake
A photographers dream, this lake is named after the small bonsai tree that has survived on a log in the lake for decades, its diminutive size has given it the nickname, ‘fairy lake’
Particularly magical early in the morning when the ocean mist from Port Renfrew swirls around the lake.
If you are taking the Pacific Marine Circle Tour, you will spot this on your journey.
6. Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
One of my favourite places in British Columbia. Carmanah Walbran was established in 1990 and is home to some of the most remarkable wild forests on Vancouver Island. Carmanah Walbran is home to some of the world’s largest spruce trees, some reaching heights in excess of 95 metres and living for 800 years or more.
It is a very wild area and whilst there are maintained trails and boardwalks. Routine flooding and falling trees mean that it has some challenging hiking areas.
Take a look at our blog on Carmanah to find out more when planning your backcountry adventure.
5. Highway 14 drive to Port Renfrew
If you are doing the Pacific Marine Circle Tour,then you will experience this stunning stretch of highway that winds along the coast and gives you access to Sooke, Juan De Fuca Marine Trail and views across the ocean.
From watching the sunrise over East Sooke Park to breathing in the fresh ocean air at the Botanical Park in Port Renfrew this drive is well worth spending a couple of days exploring and camping along the coast.
Along with the stunning views, this also allows you to tantalize your taste buds with some ‘not to be missed’ spots. Located between Sooke and Port Renfrew is Shirley Delicious, a small cafe that offers incredible sweet home baked goods and a delicious hot menu that includes my particular favourite – the breakfast burrito.
4.Strathcona Provincial Park
The largest provincial park on Vancouver Island and the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Satisfy your hiking itch and enjoy some breathtaking views. Mountain peaks speckled with snow dominate the landscape and dotted with clear alpine lakes.
Strathcona Park is popular with kayakers, wilderness hikers and climbers, but there are a number of easier trails and hikes to satisfy all levels of abilities.
3. Kinsol Trestle
Completed in 1920 this wooden railway trestle stands at 44 meters tall and is one of the highest railway trestles in the world. It crosses over the Koksilah River and was originally designed to connect Victoria to the Nootka sound through lake Cowichan and Port Alberni.
Recently restored and reopened to the public, take a walk along the top and breathe in the views or wind down to the river below and get a different perspective of this impressive structure.
2. Raft Cove
Located in North Vancouver Island is a stunning short hike that crosses through old growth cedar and sitka spruce and opens up into a wild expanses of rugged beach and coastline where you can camp on the beach and follow the coastal wolf tracks in the sand.
Enjoy a true west coast wild camping experience as the wind whistles through your hair on a remarkable rugged sandy spit.
This rustic park is popular with surfers, hikers and fishermen. The sandy spit and bay is very exposeroads to Hplbrg, before branching off and following the signs for raft cove. d to the pacific ocean weather and you will need to come fully equipped with the appropriate outdoor gear to stay dry.
To access you will need to drive to Port Hardy (8 Hrs from Victoria). Leave the tarmac behind and take the logging road to holberg before branching off to Raft Cove.
1.Tofino / Ucluelet
One of the most popular and coolest places to visit is the Tofino area that incorporates the towns Tofino and Ucluelet.
Tofino is a cool surf town located on the west coast of the island. Situated north of the Pacific Rim National Park it is the larger of the two towns with its cousin Ucluelet situated to the South of Pacific Rim National Park. The town and surrounding areas offer plenty for those that aren’t avid surfers, with hikes, beach walks, food and beer all on offer. Along with whale watching, boat tours or a trip to Hot Springs Cove.
Ucluelet is situated south of the Pacific Rim National park and about 30-40kms from its larger cousin Tofino, Ucluelet is definitely worth a visit, whether its to grab a drink after a walk along the beach, take a stroll around the lighthouse loop or enjoy some oysters, there is plenty for everyone.
Take a look at some at our 10 days tour that includes Tofino.
A few hike: Most around this area are fairly easier trail walks. There are a number of more challenging hikes if you are feeling up for it.
1) Long beach to Florencia Bay (or the other way round)– One of my favourite short hikes is the return trip from long beach to Florencia Bay. Both have ample car parking available.
The hike is 2.5km in each direction and you will traverse from coastal beach through forest and into wetlands and back to forest again. It’s a beautiful cross division of micro clients. I suggest taking a picnic lunch with you and enjoy the views before making the return journey.
2) Rainforest loop– This is another nice short hike. There are 2x rainforest loops on either side of the road each loop is 1km long and goes along a board walk, and up and down steps. I strongly suggest doing both loops as each has something different to offer.
3) Ancient cedars trail on the Wild Pacific Trail