Vancouver Island Information
Vancouver Island: Venturing west out over the waters of Georgia Strait beyond Vancouver you can explore the sparsely populated region of Vancouver Island including Victoria - the Capital of British Columbia - and the numerous Gulf Islands and Discovery Islands. With a mix of quiet islets, wild pacific coast line, ancient forests like the magnificent Cathedral Grove, natural park trails, excellent golf courses, pleasant urban settings and quaint towns, this beautiful ‘rock’ is easily accessible by ferry, scheduled flights, float plane and helicopter.
- See also Holiday Suggestions & Travel Ideas for Vancouver Island.
Stretching over 450 kilometres (280 miles) north to south, Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of North America, similar in size to the Netherlands and 29 times the area of Hong Kong. Boasting the mildest climate in Canada and with plenty of mountains, valleys and lush lowlands in between, logging towns, fishing villages, communities of artists and artisans, and First Nations centres, Vancouver Island is worth the time to slow down and enjoy. Known for excellent whale watching, birding hotspots, and sport fishing, there are many opportunities to appreciate the wildlife and the unspoiled wilderness, protected parks and nature reserves.
The abundance of local produce and innovative chefs, eating out on the Island is an exciting journey, and should include sipping samples at a winery, a meadery, cidery, or a micro-brewery too. Sourcing culinary delectables at gourmet markets and farmers stalls up and down the island brings its own delights.
With fine weather throughout much of the year it is no wonder that there are a number of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed. For a little adrenaline rush try a Bungee jump, zipline or tread gingerly over ropes high up in the trees, or surf the surge in Tofino on just the right wave. For a more tranquil adventure try kayaking, biking, hiking and golf to name a few of the favourite activities and things to do enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
South Vancouver Island
The South Island region is the urban area’s capital region district and includes Victoria, the capital of BC. Smaller communities close by, like Sidney and Sooke, also feature seaside walks, marine activities, unique shops and local fare, and the friendliness that is so often experienced on the island. Heading a little farther north of Victoria for a day trip, the Cowichan Valley region provides an experience for food and wine enthusiasts to sample and learn about various superb organic and heritage farms, farmers’ markets, fresh seafood docks and wineries. Popular communities in this area include Chemainus, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Shawnigan Lake and Ladysmith.
Central Vancouver Island
The Central Island region, about a two hour drive north of Victoria, is also easily accessible by seaplane into Nanaimo’s Inner Harbour from Vancouver, Victoria or Seattle. An option too is to take one of the scenic BC Ferry sailings to Duke Point and Departure Bay terminals from Vancouver. Nanaimo is a gateway to summer getaways including popular destinations at Parksville and Qualicum Beach known for its warmer waters and sandy beaches perfect for beachcombing. There are a number of kid-friendly activities in this area, and lots of things to do and see including the annual Parksville Beach Festival with incredible sand sculptures.
West Coast & Pacific Rim
The Pacific Rim region sits at the edge of a West Coast paradise with popular destinations to Tofino and Ucluelet providing both invigorating and relaxing experiences. Whether walking along stunning beaches or hiking the trails through lush old coastal rainforest, the dramatic ocean scenery and the wild beauty of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is truly breathtaking. A favourite hub for surfers, Tofino was recently ranked ‘Best Surf Town in North America’ by Outsider Magazine. Allow yourself about five hours to drive from Victoria as you will be bound to slow down and capture some of the views enroute. The Pacific Rim region also includes Port Alberni at the head of the Alberni Inlet from the Pacific Ocean, and the delightful Bamfield village located on Barkley sound, and home to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre.
North Central & Northern Vancouver Island
The North Central Island region leads to great fishing in and around Campbell River, and hiking in the impressive Strathcona Park. As well as Campbell River, smaller communities in the North Central Island include Comox and Courtenay. Heading farther up island to the North Island towards Port Hardy you will find great wilderness sightseeing. At Port Hardy the link to BC ferries’ terminus takes you to the Inside Coast and Discover Coast passages. Going ‘up island’ as those living in Victoria say, presents a number of options to think about when visiting Vancouver Island and Victoria.
Read more about accommodation on Vancouver Island.
Click here to return to the British Columbia regional overview page.
Map: See street photos by zooming in and using Google’s Street View by dragging the yellow man icon from left hand side bar onto streets highlighted in blue.
Photo credits: West Coast Storm Watching courtesy Tourism Vancouver Island; U’mista Cultural Centre North Vancouver Island, Kayaking in Ladysmith Harbour, Strathcona Park North Central Island courtesy (VancouverIsland.Travel) Tourism Vancouver Island/Boomer Jerritt, Nanaimo Harbour Front, Central Vancouver Island courtesy Tourism Vancouver Island/Chris Cheadle
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