With international travel looking unlikely this summer it’s time to enjoy things closer to home, and boy are we lucky to have such an amazing backyard to explore this summer! Inspire yourself with some long weekend ideas for Vancouver Island. Remember: Be responsible. Check with the local tourism authority for the current situation – travel responsibly and do not put unnecessary stress on small communities.

Strathcona Provincial Park

Kms from Victoria: 202kms

Hours Drive: 4hrs 30mins  

Road Type: Paved

Best for: Hikers, kayakers, nature lovers

Top Campsite: Ralph River

There are a number of campsites to choose from, Buttle lake campground and Ralph River campground are my favourites and it is essential that you try to make a reservation, however they do have some walk-in sites set aside for each day but you should carefully check this prior to travel. This is the largest provincial park on Vancouver Island and the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Satisfy your hiking itch and enjoy some breath-taking 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 and abilities.

Along the way:

  1. Coombs: Take a look at this quaint little town with its Goats on the Roof Market and make sure you leave with some of the best ice cream!
  2. Campbell River: The town has some great lunch options along the waterfront including a proper portion of fish and chips!
  3.  Elk falls Provincial park: Beautiful hikes and a suspension bridge to view the falls. This area is also popular for fishing excursions.

A Great day hike, with a good challenging elevation is the Bedwell Lake Trail, this is awesome if you just want a casual hike with some stunning scenery. The hike has some pretty steep sections, but the trail is very well maintained, I recommend taking a picnic and enjoying the surroundings for a bit before making the return journey back down.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

Kms from Victoria: 181kms

Hours Drive:3hrs 30mins  

Road Type: Paved for half and rough logging road for the rest

Best for: Hikers, nature lovers

Top Campsite: Backcountry camping

This park was fought for by a group of dedicated activists in the 1990’s and established as a provincial park in 1994. It is home to ancient trees, epic cedars, giant sitka spruces and rugged unkempt wilderness. The routine flooding during the fall and winter months results in the boardwalks being upturned and relocated, a park maintenance nightmare. But this hard to manage forest is just what makes it so special, it is the wild west coast at its damp, overgrown, independent, gorgeous best.

Along the way:

  1. Fairy Lake: Just outside Port Renfrew, this quirky little lake is named after the robust bonsai tree surviving on a log in the lake for decades.
  2. Nitnat view point: As you drive from Nitnat Lake to Carmanah you start to climb up the mountain, keep an eye out for a clearing in the trees to the left side of the road – there is a lovely view overlooking the lake. Careful on the logs though, they are slippery and there are no handrails.
  3.  Big Lonely Doug: When driving from Carmanah to Port Refrew – there is a road called Edinburgh main – as you look across the cleared area – one of the largest Sitka spruces around is all alone.
  4. Avatar grove: Just before you reach Port Renfrew from Carmanah stands a protected area of old growth trees.

Cowichan Valley

Kms from Victoria: 78kms

Hours Drive: 1hr 45 mins 

Road Type: Paved

Best for: Hikers, kayakers, nature lovers, bikers, foodies

Top Campsite: Cowichan River

From the gorgeous collection of murals in Chemainus, sipping wine at a Duncan winery, or throwing a line into the Cowichan River. There are a plethora of options right on your back doorstep.

Along the way:

  • Kinsol Trestle: Take in the spectacular views of the canyons and gorges from the restored 66-mile Holt Creek railway on The Great Trail. Kinsol Trestle is a 12 storey wooden railway bridge that was built in 1920s.
  • Duncan: Take a self-guided Totum Tour Walk and visit the traditional buildings at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre. Duncan is also home to the BC Forest Discovery Centre, which showcases BC’s logging and steam-related history. Take a relaxing train ride on a historic locomotive as it winds its way over a wooden trestle.
  • South Cowichan Wine Tour: Spend the afternoon sampling various wines in tasting rooms and shops, or take a guided tour of the wine-making facilities and vineyards.

Sayward Valley

Kms from Victoria: 336kms

Hours Drive:4hrs 30mins  

Road Type: Paved/Logging

Best for: Hikers, kayakers, Mountain Bikers

Top Campsite: Cedar lake Rec Site

Between Sayward and Campbell River is the Sayward Valley, a series of lakes and rivers that is home to the Sayward Valley Canoe Loop. It’s fun to leave the Highway 19 and take the interconnected logging roads that wind around these lakes and the Snowden Demonstration Forest. This area is fantastic for kayakers or Mountain Bikers.

Top three campsites:

  1. Cedar Lake site: This site only comprises of 3 pitches all lakeside, but offers stunning shaded views of cedar lake
  2. Brewster Lake: We like this site because of its gorgeous beach, like most of the best hidden rec sites, you can’t reserve them so get there early, but on a warm summers day this beach and lake make for the perfect spot to hang out. It has a combination of shaded woodland campsites and waterfront sites. This is a large site with around 30+ pitches, compost toilets and no showers.
  3. Armor Lake: another small site with only 5 pitches, this again offers fantastic lakeside camping.


Kms from Victoria: 199kms

Hours Drive:4hrs 30mins  

Road Type: Paved

Best for: Hikers, kayakers, nature lovers, surfers, foodies

Top Campsite: Surf Junction


Tofino is situated on the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First nation, it is surrounded by the vast, breathtaking expanse of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region – a region that is cherished for its profound biodiversity and environmental culture. The quiet inlets, the old growth rainforest and the rolling waves embody the vibrancy of this place, there is a fantastic food scene and the village is rich with arts and culture.


Ucluelet is a laid back fishing village that is surrounded by the pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It has been named one of BC’s top ten small towns and like its neighbour, offers an endless range of outdoor activities. Affectionately known as Ukee, the streets are lined with appealing restaurants, B&Bs and artisan shops while the surrounding area offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, kayaking, surfing and more. Watch Discover Ucuelet’s showcase video to see for yourself!