Vancouver Island is situated just off the west coast of British Columbia. The island home is to rugged scenery, pristine rainforest, vibrant city life and extraordinary wildlife. Small fishing towns dot the northern coast which is also the access point for the Great Bear Rainforest. Port McNeill and Port Hardy are at the centre of eco-tourism. Canada’s capital Victoria, on the southern tip of the island, is a picturesque city rich in culture and new world history. The wilds of the north and cosmopolitan ambience of the south are connected by a sandy coastline, forested mountain trails and aqua blue lakes.
Why Visit Vancouver Island
- Visit the capital Victoria with its bustling shops, restaurants and nightlife
- Gateway to some of the most incredible and inaccessible wilderness lodges
- Go walking in the Pacific Rim National Park
- Kayak to Meares Island with the world’s oldest cedar trees
- Go whale watching from Tofino
- Try out the surf or arrive in time for the Rip Curl championships in June
- Experience some of the world’s best bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest
Tofino is a coastal town world renowned for surfing and thus attracts and a young and vibrant crowd and is home to excellent restaurants and First Nation history. However, it is also the base from which to explore remote areas of Clayoquot Sound and embark on some incredible wildlife trips. Some 22,000 grey whales migrate through Tofino waters between February and October and small groups spend the whole summer in Clayoquot Sound. It is also possible to see humpback whales, Steller sea lions and wide variety of birdlife.
Ucluelet (you-clue-let) is a delightful unspoilt village with a largely residential population. Traditionally a fishing village, today an income is made from outdoor recreation and eco-tourism. It is overshadowed by nearby popular resort town of Tofino, but in our opinion, Ucluelet is the real gem of the area. Perched on the most westerly point of the Pacific Rim National Park, the peninsula has the calm waters of Ucluelet Harbour on one side and the churning Pacific Ocean on the other. At the southern tip is the famous Wild Pacific Trail. A year-round destination, there is always plenty going on, including the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival that celebrates the longest annual migration of any animal in the world. An estimated 20,000 gray whales make their way north each year passing the west coast of British Columbia.
Victoria is Canada’s busy capital city located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The harbour is an exciting buzz of sailboats, floatplanes and passenger ferries. Explore the city on foot discovering art galleries, museums, shops and fantastic restaurants. Alternatively, take a horse carriage through Beacon Hill Park, a green sanctuary filled with ducks and peacocks.
When to Go
The best time to visit Vancouver Island and British Columbia in general depends on interest. Wildlife is a big focus and the summer months from June to September are the peak times to for bear viewing and whale watching. For those who love the snow, December to April are the months to hit the slopes, but Victoria remains a great destination year round.