Vancouver Island is an island located just west of the city of Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Known for its natural beauty, the island boasts rugged beaches, ancient forests, and idyllic coastal communities, drawing in tourists from around the globe.
First-time visitors are sure to benefit from the guidance of a sample itinerary, especially considering the island is quite expansive at 31,285 square kilometers (12,079 square miles) in size! Read on to learn more about sights worth seeing and activities worth doing during your island tour.
Before setting foot on the island, visitors should decide what time of the year they'd like to visit. This may be more of a choice for some rather than others, depending on available travel days; nonetheless, each season has its own pros and perks.
The best place to start your trip is where first you arrive, which for many is going to be in Victoria via ferry.
Go for a stroll around around Inner Harbor
This is especially great during more temperate times of the year. Enjoy the view of the harbor and the light bustle of daily life; check out the famed Fairmont Empress Hotel and Parliament Buildings; stop for a bite to eat at a local seaside restaurant.
Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum
Established in 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum is a treasure trove of natural and human history centered on the province of British Columbia. The museum's main galleries include Natural History, Becoming British Columbia, and the First Peoples Gallery.
Two hours away by car is Port Renfrew, a breathtaking First Nations community. This stop of the trip is for the humble and respectful nature lovers!
Botanical Beach boasts picturesque views of the ocean complete with a lush backdrop of firs and cedars. The area as a whole is incredibly biodiverse, particularly the tidal pools which are bursting with life. Just be sure to take only pictures, leave only footprints, and check the tides before you go! The best time to visit is during low tide, when the pools are more visible.
Avatar Grove is the commonplace nickname for "T'l'oqwxwat," a government protected and unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation. Due to the untouched and ancient nature of the area, camping and overnight stays are not permitted; however, hiking is welcome, as is supporting the local First Nation businesses!
The hiking trail in T'l'oqwxwat is 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) in length and follows along a wooden boardwalk, constructed for both safety and ease. Visit Canada's "gnarliest tree" and see some of the largest trees in the country!
Tofino is known for its First Nations roots and laid back surf culture.
Hot Springs Cove
Visiting these geothermal pools takes some effort, but the experience is once in a lifetime for both the dip in hot springs and the pristine views. The joy isn't just in reaching the pools, either; it's the whole experience of venturing through the natural, untouched earth on your way there.
Hot Springs Cove is reached by either boat tour or seaplane, and visitors are able to choose between a joint group trip or a private one.
Elk Falls Provincial Park
Known for its spectacular suspension bridge, the park as a whole is full of natural wonders! It's home to a magnificent waterfall and 6 kilometer (3.7 mile) hiking trail which traverses through old growth forest and ancient trees.
You can also head to the nearby Myra Falls, another beautiful waterfall, situated on the southern end of Buttle Lake!
After a long few days spent exploring, relax and unwind at the unique and luxurious Dolphins Resort. Founded in the 1940s, the resort features quaint cabins, oceanside views, west coast dining, and world renowned fishing experiences, perfect for ending your trip on a serene and rejuvenated note.
Hopefully this sample itinerary will give you a solid place to start before going on an island tour of your very own. Remember to always be safe, practice good tourist etiquette, and have fun!