If you are looking for some ideas on where to travel on Vancouver Island then look no further, this post is filled with lots of options for nature, great food and some stunning coastline.
10. The West Coast Trail
So technically you can’t drive it but you can drive there so we’re 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 time and explore the stunning 75kms of rugged coastline. The trail is only open between 1st May and 30th Sept, for more information visit the west coast website.
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 apparent from the architecture. It is worth spending a day or two exploring this city and the surrounding area, especially if you are a foodie, Victoria will not disappoint.
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 photographer’s 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 on Vancouver Island, and in fact, in British Columbia. Carmanah Walbran was established in 1990 and is home to some of the most remarkable old-growth forests. It 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 you may meet some challenges. Take a look at our blog on Carmanah Walbran to find out more.
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 and the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail. 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 stunning from start to finish. There are a number of food stops that cannot be missed on this route – particularly Shirley Delicious, a small cafe that offers incredible sweet home baked goods and a delicious hot menu that includes my 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 inbetween there are crystal 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 take the path that winds down to the river below; get a different perspective of this impressive structure.
2. Raft Cove
Located in the north Raft Cove is a stunning short hike that crosses through old growth cedar and sitka spruce and opens into a wild expanse of rugged beach and coastline where you can camp on the beach. 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 exposed to the pacific ocean weather, you will need to come fully equipped with the appropriate outdoor gear.
1. Tofino & Ucluelet
One of the most popular and coolest places to visit! 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.
Take a look at some at ten day Vancouver Island Nature’s Paradise Tour to learn more.