The Highway 19 runs from Nanaimo all the way up the east coast of the Island to Port Hardy and features some of the top highlights of Vancouver Island. We recommend taking 10 days to do this tour.
Pick up your vehicle in Victoria – we recommend a stay in Victoria either on your first night or on the return journey, it has loads of great attractions and things to see and do.
Take the Highway 1 north towards Nanaimo.
Stop 1: Nanaimo/Parksville/Qualicum Beach
If you are into Mountain biking then we strongly recommend a night or 2 in Nanaimo to explore some of the trails the area has to offer, or you can carry on through and join the Highway 19 up to Parksville/Qualicum Beach.
Parksville – Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park has tidal pools, beautiful beaches, camping, or take a visit to Englishman River Provincial Park. The area also has some great waterfront walks and restaurants.
Qualicum Beach – Just north of Parksville, if you are into caving – check out the Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park or Qualicum Fall Provincial Park for impressive waterfalls cascading into the rocky gorge.
Highway 19 vs Highway 19A?
For me, I prefer the scenic route, so I will always take the 19A, but if you aren’t into sitting in the car and just want to get to your destination then the Hwy19 is the quicker of the two.
Stop 2: Comox Valley
Next – its onto the Comox Valley and time to explore Comox/Courtney/Cumberland.
There are plenty of activities around in these areas to keep you busy for a number of days
For a more in-depth breakdown of what’s on offer check out our page on the Comox Valley
Stop 3: Campbell River/Sayward Forest
Its time to head to Campbell River, my personal choice would be to head into the Sayward forest area and find one of the gorgeous small recreational sites that have sites right on the water of many of the small lakes – the downside is many of the best ones are not reservable and they are first come first served so best get there early to claim your spot.
Things to do
Mountain biking in the Snowden Forest, they have trails for all levels and plenty of different access points to keep you busy all day.
Sayward forest canoe loop – or a small canoe tour.
Take a drive around the lakes and stop and do small small hikes
Explore Campbell River – there is plenty to see and do in the town itself.
Elk falls Provincial park – beautiful hikes and a suspension bridge to view the falls. This area is also really popular for fishing excursions.
This is also a great access to Strathcona Provincial Park and Mt Washington.
Stop 4: Schoen Lake
From Campbell River we continue north on the Hwy 19, the 19 +19A merge here and its just the one road from here on.
Our next stop is Schoen Lake Provincial park, which again has some gorgeous sites, right on the lakeshore. There are a number of small hikes around this area or you can sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Stop 5: Port Mcneil/Telegraph Cove
Next its on to our last stop Port McNeil, whilst in this area you should definitely check out telegraph cove, just south of Port McNeil, why not take the time to enjoy a whale watching or wild life trip whilst visiting this northern town?
Once you have explored your final stop, unfortunately its time to head back home, you can either do the drive as a full length drive top to bottom or instead of stopping in the Comox Valley on the way up, why not break up the return journey by spending a few days here.
Don’t forget to get in touch if you want any advice on any routes and things to do along the way.
Got more time?
Want to take the scenic route back?
Why not get the ferry from Courtney over to Powell River on the mainland and follow the Sunshine Coast down to Vancouver.
Camping fees for Nights 1,2,3,4 and 8 +9
Camping fees for Nights 5,6 and 7 are either non-reservable sites or cash on arrival.
10 Days Vehicle hire – inclusive of all standard inclusions – check out the vehicles page for a full list
Whale watching tour – Port McNeil
Items of a personal nature
Activities not stated in the inclusions list
Camping fees for nights not include in the inclusions list