About Vancouver Island British Columbia
Vancouver Island BC, jewell of the Pacific, Hawaii of the North, and paradise NOT lost! Vancouver Island is one of the last places in the world where nature and wilderness mixes with modern and urban settings. Vancouver Island is best known for its beaches, old growth temperate rainforest, beautiful vistas, whale watching, adventure tourism, and incredible fresh water fishing as well as deep sea fishing.
In addition to the fine selection of wilderness tourism choices, Vancouver Island is also blessed with some spectacular urban settings. Victoria BC, the largest city on Vancouver Island and the Provincial Capital, with it's old world English charm has been compared to a theme park as it is surreal beautiful, picturesque architecture and uncommonly clean surroundings. The city of gardens as it is known is sure to please any visitor as you cannot experience a place like Victoria BC anywhere else in the world.
There are many interesting locations to visit on Vancouver Island BC. As you travel north and west from Victoria BC along highway 14, you soon reach the small oceanside community of Sooke BC. This town, once a logging center, is undergoing transformation as the gateway to the southwest side of the Island. Sooke BC has several things to offer. It is a good place to stop for fuel as there is no fuel for more than 70 KM and even then, that station is open only in the summer. It is an excellent place to charter a fishing boat and enjoy some of the world's best fishing right out front of the Sooke Basin. Despite it's size, Sooke BC contains one of the Province's best restaurants, the Sooke Harbour House. Well worth a visit, it attracts celebrities and haute cuisine aficionados alike.
As you drive past Sooke BC up the southwest side of Vancouver Island you will pass through the quaint little ocean front village of Jordan River on your way to Port Renfrew. The greatest secret on Vancouver Island, Port Renfrew offers a small fishing village with a very large, very long white sand beach as the focal point of the town. All along the Native owned beach you can camp right on the sand. It is a beautiful spot and is only minutes from Botanical Beach Provincial Park. Botanical Beach affords visitors with access to uniquely rich tide pools and shoreline trails with fantastic geological features. The extensive variety of marine flora and fauna in this colourful intertidal zone includes red, purple and orange starfish and sea urchins, white gooseneck barnacles, blue mussels and green sea anemones and sea cucumbers. Coralline algae, periwinkles, chitons and sea stars can also be seen at Botanical Beach. This wonder of nature is well worth the 2.5 hour trip from Victoria BC up the southwestern side of Vancouver Island.
As you pass out of Victoria BC travelling north up highway 17 towards the Victoria International Airport and the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay, you pass by the famous town of Sidney BC, better known as "Sidney by the Sea". With it's quiet ambiance and its location right on the ocean, Sidney is a perfect place to spend the day, or settle for your retirement.
Traveling North out of Victoria BC up Highway 1, the Trans Canada Highway passes over the Malahat Mountain, home to Shawnigan Lake and some spectacular lake front accommodations. As you travel North, you pass through Duncan, city of Totems, Chemainus the city of Murals, Beautiful Ladysmith and Nanaimo, Vancouver Island's second largest city. From Nanaimo you can continue North to "the beaches" in Qualicum and Parksville or you can follow highway 4 through Port Alberni on to the west coast of Vancouver Island and Tofino BC with it's spectacular Pacific Rim National Park.
Highway 4 to Tofino BC takes you through some spectacular country. From the old growth trees of Macmillan Provincial park, picturesque Alberni valley, recreational Sproat Lake, spectacular pristine Kennedy Lake, Pacific Rim National Park, the white sands of Long Beach and all of the amazing things to see an experience on your way to the west coast. Choosing to see the Hawaii of British Columbia will not disappoint you in summer or in winter. In summer you can lie on one of the many quiet, empty white sand beaches or in winter you can sit in your oceanside hot tub and listen to the waves crashing on the shore during a winter storm. Winter storm watching in Tofino BC is becoming a very popular pastime.
If you choose to go North on the Trans Canada highway through the beach towns of Qualicum and Parksville, Northern Vancouver Island awaits you. The beautiful town of Courtenay is at the foot of the best ski mountain on Vancouver Island, Mount Washington. Don't think for a second that it is good for just snow. In summer you can experience an amazing array of adventure sports like mountaineering, mountain biking and alpine hiking. In winter though, Mount Washington is famous for it's average snowfall of over 900 cm (30 feet). No need for snow making, everyday is a powder day at Mount Washington.
Just North of Courtenay BC is the ferry access to some of the beautiful smaller Gulf Islands. You can also access the beautiful picturesque coastal town of Powell River from Near Courtenay. Courtenay and Campbell River are also the access points to one of the world's most spectacular wilderness parks, Strathcona Provincial Park. Located almost in the centre of Vancouver Island, Strathcona is a rugged mountain wilderness comprising more than 250,000 hectares. Mountain peaks - some perpetually mantled with snow - dominate the park. Lakes and alpine tarns dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Summer in Strathcona is usually pleasantly warm, while winters are fairly mild except for the higher levels, where heavy snowfalls are the norm. From November through March, snowfalls can be expected on the mountain slopes and alpine plateaus. Snow remains all year on the mountain peaks and may linger into July even at moderate elevations. Summer evenings, as elsewhere in the northern coastal regions of BC, can be cool and rain can be expected at any time of the year.
Two areas - Buttle Lake and vicinity and Forbidden Plateau – offer a variety of visitor-oriented developments. The rest of the park is largely undeveloped and appeals primarily to people seeking wilderness surroundings. To see and enjoy much of the scenic splendor requires hiking or backpacking into the alpine regions. See our Nature and Parks on Vancouver Island BC page for more information and links to pertinent web sites.
As you progress up the Trans Canada Highway to the top of Vancouver Island you pass through a wide range of small villages. Some have famous oyster beds, others amazing whale watching, still others offer fishing like no where else. Telegraph Cove, voted one of the ten best "towns" in Canada to visit by travel writers as published in Harrowsmith Magazine, allows for some spectacular wilderness, ocean creature and wild animal viewing virtually right from town.
At the very end of the roads on Vancouver Island is spectacular Cape Scott Provincial Park. Cape Scott Provincial Park is a truly magnificent area of rugged coastal wilderness that is located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, 563 kilometers from Victoria. Established in 1973 and named after the site of a lighthouse that has guided mariners since 1960, Cape Scott is characterized by more than 115 kilometers of scenic ocean frontage, including about 30 kilometers of spectacular remote beaches. The park stretches from Shushartie Bay in the east, then westward around Cape Scott and south to San Josef Bay. Rocky promontories, salt marshes and jagged headlands punctuate the fine-textured, white-sand beaches. The most impressive of these beaches, Nels Bight, stretches more than 2,400 meters long and 210 meters wide at low tide, and is one of the Park’s most popular camping destinations. Other significant beaches include San Josef Bay, Guise Bay, Experiment Bight, Lowrie Bay and Nissen Bight.
Vancouver Island is truly a perfect mix of rugged wilderness, charming coastal towns and cultured urban areas. Make Vancouver Island BC your choice for an unforgettable vacation.