Self-Drive Tour, 7 days, 996km (618 miles)
Vancouver Island is a playground year-round, and this tour covers its winter specialties! From storm-watching in Tofino, to skiing, to simply relaxing in a sauna, this magical winter adventure will be a great fit for those looking for an adventurous off-season holiday!. All of our itineraries are fully tailor-made so speak to one of the FarOut Team if you would like to use this as the foundation of your adventure!
Victoria to Horne Lake Caves
201km – 2hr55m
You’ll start your trip by conducting a vehicle handoff with our team in Victoria! After that, you’ll start heading north on Highway 1. Be sure to stop for a coffee and a Nanaimo bar (a Canadian delicacy filled with chocolate, custard, and crumble) en route!
The first stop on the trip is Horne Lakes Caves, commonly ranked the best caving in Canada! Caves stay around 8 degrees celsius year round, so it’s the perfect activity for the rainy winter months. The Horne Lake Caves team has put together a guide on how to stay warm in the caves year-round
Horne Lake Caves offers 4 different guided tours, catering to every type of adventurer! Two tours are available in winter, giving you opportunities to see the stunning fossil and crystal formations. If you’re feeling adventurous, take the multi-cave experience tour, which features a climb up a waterfall
After finishing up in the caves, you’ll drive back to Qualicum Beach for your first night. Qualicum Beach offers quaint cottages, cabins, studios, and even RV spots for those eager to try out winter camping! On a clear day, you’ll catch an amazing winter sunset from the beach before heading in for the evening!
DAY 2 & 3
Horne Lake Caves to Tofino
Day 2: 180km, 2h35 min
Day 3: Local travel only
Tofino and Ucluelet These neighboring towns on Vancouver Island’s west coast are famed winter destinations for storm-watching, winter surfing, vast beaches, and more!
A variety of activities are available, here are our top suggestions:
- Storm Watching: Tofino brings some of the biggest winter storms around, so you may be lucky enough to see a day with 20-foot waves, powerful winds, and intense rainfall! Storms can be watched from the comfort of your hotel – Pacific Sands and Long Beach Resort are two of our favorite spots! For those looking to head straight down to the beaches to immerse themselves in the winter storm, be sure to bring a raincoat!
- Surfing: Looking for lessons for a first-time surfer? Experienced veteran ready to hit the waves? Either way, Swell Tofino will have you covered, they’ve been supplying visitors for over a decade.
Winter surfing can bring bigger waves in Tofino, and the team at Swell Tofino can guide you to the perfect wave for your surfing abilities. Be sure to check the morning swell reports with Magic Seaweed
- Wild Pacific Trail: Wind patterns keep the weather mild year round, so it’s still a great time to lace up the hiking boots and explore some of the beautiful hikes along Vancouver Island’s coastline
- Hot Springs Cove Tour: Take a boat out into the ocean (weather permitting), to visit the beautiful natural hot springs in Nismakqin Provincial Park. Be sure to bring warm clothes and hiking boots, as there’s a walk from the beach to the natural pools
- Saunas: Looking to unwind and relax? Tuff City offers beachfront saunas at Pacific Rims and McKenzie:
- Tofino food tour: For the rainiest winter days, Tofino has a variety of excellent local restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Shelter: A family-friendly patio with amazing Caesars
- Tacofino: Tacofino is a BC staple, and the original food truck is right here in Tofino!
- Shed: If you need a burger or a pizza then this is the place for you!
For those camping, Pacific Sands National Park has an endless supply of winter campsites. Pacific Sands and Long Beach resort will be your best hotel options!
Tofino to Mt Washington
250km – 3 hr 14 mins
Today offers a couple of choices! For the hardcore outdore adventurer, today will be the day that you surf AND ski on the same day! Vancouver Island is one of the only places in the world you can check off this bucket list item, so on the way out, catch some last-second waves at your favorite Tofino beach before heading off to the mountains.
Looking for a more relaxed morning? Stop at Rhino Coffee house for a cinnamon bun and a fresh brew, and leisurely make your way to the slopes.
Mt Washington, the first of two ski stops on this trip, is a hidden gem for BC skiers, offering cheaper ski passes, short lift lines, views of the nearby ocean, and some of the best skiing in BC!
The front side of the mountain offers a variety of runs for skiers of all levels. Expert skiers, you’ll want to head straight to the section of the ski resort called the Outback, which features all the advanced terrain you’re looking for: bowls, cutes, glades, you name it.
For accommodation, Bear Lodge and Deer Lodge are slopeside at Mt Washington and offer a variety of ski & stay packages
Local Travel Only
If you surfed yesterday morning you got to the slopes on the late side. Take another day at the mountain to enjoy everything Mt Washington has to offer!
Looking for something aside from downhill skiing? Here are our other favourite options in the area:
- Nordic skiing: Nordic, also known as cross-country skiing, allows you to ditch the lift lines for a day and cruise around the Mt Washington wilderness at your own pace. Unlike with downhill skiing, you have to ski both up and down the slopes, so this activity would be for those looking for a good cardio workout. Mt Washington offers a variety of marked trails to explore
- Guided backcountry skiing: Ever tempted to ski out of the bounds of your local ski resort? Mt Washington offers guided backcountry skiing, allowing you to go to remote downhill ski slopes with the help of an avalanche-safety trained ski guide. It’s a great chance to ski usually inaccessible parts of the part and find some of the finest untouched powder in BC!
- Fat Biking: A Canadian speciality, you can rent bikes with 4-inch tires and plow through the snow in the Mt Washington park!
- Snowshoeing: Hiking lovers, this is the perfect way to still make it up to a high pass year-round! Snowshoes will give you amazing stability in the thick Mt Washington snow, perfect for a winter hiking adventure
- Snow Tubing: Perfect for the kids, cruising down the mountain in a snow tube is sure to beat the experience at your local sledding hill!
Mt Washington to Mt Cain
189 km – 2 hr 17 mins
Dubbed “The best ski area you’ve never heard of”, Mt Cain will be the adventure of a lifetime. Originally built for loggers in northern Vancouver Island, Mt Cain only opens on the weekends, and often feels like you’re walking into a thirty year time lapse.
The slopes offer a variety of runs from beginner to advanced, so the ski days here will be suitable for all visitors. Given that skiing is only open two days a week, there’s always pillows of fresh powder awaiting skiers who make the trek up to Cain
The backcountry is one of the most exciting parts of skiing at Mt Cain, but the area is unmonitored. Unless you have avalanche-safety certifications, we recommend booking a certified guide, and we can help you do so!
We’ll help you book accommodation for Mt Cain, the options are limited to slope-side cabins and hostels. Luckily, we’re local experts and can help get you a perfect spot to stay at Mt Cain.
Mt Cain to Victoria
396km – 4 hr 50 mins
Enjoy another day skiing on Mt Cain before heading back to Victoria to hand over your vehicle and finish your trip.
Looking for a bite on the way down? Fanny Bay Inn splits up the drive nicely, offering local oysters, pub fare, and pizza for a hungry skier.