Vancouver Island is an island that most travelers visit at the end or beginning of their road trip through western Canada. You can even do the Vancouver Island route as a separate road trip, as it is a large island and has its own sights; wild animals, cider farms, the capital Victoria and the beautiful Wild Pacific Trail. In This blog we share our 10 most awesome attractions of Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island best attractions

Below is a list of what you can do on Vancouver Island.

  1. Drive through the Pacific Rim Highway
  2. Little Qualicum Falls
  3. Walk along towering trees
  4. Hike the Rainforest Trail]
  5. Score a coffee at Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria
  6. Visit a Cidery
  7. Go on a bear or whale watch tour
  8. Visit Surf Town Tofino
  9. Drive over the Old Island Highway
  10. Hike (part of) the Wild Pacific Trail

1. Drive across the Pacific Rim Highway

The road to Ucluelet and Tofino has perhaps the most beautiful sights of Vancouver Island. You drive on a beautiful route along lakes, forests, ancient trees and waterfalls. Take your time as you drive along to see some good highlights, hike trails and spot waterfalls. It’s also the perfect route to take pictures!

2. Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

At Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park You’ll find the upper and Lower falls. These beautiful waterfalls can be reached by a short 5-minute hike and are certainly worthwhile if you drive from Nanaimo to Tofino.

3. Walk along towering trees

The Cathedral Cove hike takes you through a forest with huge trees. But this is not just a forest, it’s a rainforest and you spot the most beautiful plants, hear the sound of all kinds of birds and we even spotted a snake while hiking there. But not to worry: it wasn’t a dangerous snake. It is a short hike that you can take on the road to Tofino. Here you will find the largest tree of Vancouver Island: it’s 800 years old and 76 meters high! The trees were larger and higher in number than at the Rainforest Trail at Tofino, 

4. Hike the Rainforest Trail

A great hike to do is the the Rainforest Walk of Trail close to Tofino. It’s not a heavy hike and, as with Cathedral Cove, it accompanies the ancient rainforest through the sound of birds in the background, just as we imagined a rainforest would be like. There is a landscaped path made of wood and sometimes you walk a meter above the ground. The hike is easy to do.

5. Score a coffee at
Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria

Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria is one of the cosiest spots in Victoria. The Wharf is surrounded with colored cottages where the locals live, and cute cafés. You can enjoy a cup of coffee here, score snacks on a terrace overlooking the sea.

6. Visit a Cidery

If you drive from Victoria to Nanaimo or vice versa you come along the wine area of Victoria. Drive past Merridale Cidery & Distillery for a taster tree with four different ciders. For $5 excl. taxes you can try both dry and sweet ciders and they are delicious! Also take a walk through the orchard! The Cidery Garden has been renamed a self-guided trail with signposts and information. Also fun for the kids!

7. Go on a bear or whale watching tour

Vancouver Island is the place to spot whales and bears. Chances are that you’ll spot grey whales because they live pretty close to the coast of Long Beach. And if you’re really lucky: you even spot killer whales! I wish we were that lucky!

Stockphoto

Tip: It seems that if you do a hot Springs tour, you would be spot 3 in 1, meaning: you get to see the hot springs and on the boat you could spot whales and bears! We read that most people did, but we didn’t do the tour ourselves though. We were – at that time – only interested in whales (we had already seen bears), but if you have any doubts about what tour to book, definetely consider taking the hot springs tour in Tofino! I hear that it is good!

We booked a tour at Tofino Whale Centre and sat with 10 people on the boat (there is a maximum of 12 people). We sailed from Tofino. You can also take a whale watching tour from Ucluelet or Victoria.

8. Visit Surf Town Tofino

Tofino is a small surfer village with nice coffee bars, trendy restaurants and you can do a whale tour here, like we said before. If you are not a surfer, you probably have seen the town after 1 or 2 days. Because the town is very small you can do everything by foot. In the summer Tofino is a nice little town, in the rain we found it a little less

fun. You have a nice farmer’s market, nice boutiques and view over the sea. And of course you can surf close to Tofino as well!

9. Drive on the Old Island Highway

This scenic route runs parallel to the coast of the island and from your car or motorhome/campervan you have a beautiful view at the Salish sea. The Oceanside Route takes you along all sorts of small places like Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Fanny Bay, Union Bay, Royston, Black Creek, Oyster River and Campbell River.

10. Hike (part of) the Wild Pacific Trail

We walked a part of the famous Pacific Trail and although it was raining that day, it was a wonderful, almost spooky walk. The rugged coastline of Vancouver Island is again a very different side of Canada than you;re used to from British Columbia. Along this route, bears and wolves (not kidding) are often spotted, so know what to do if you encounter one (in whole Canada we never bumped into one of them, but it’s a scary idea).

Vancouver Island Tips

Sleeping on Vancouver Island

On Vancouver Island you sleep at campsites, in hostels or in a nice log cabin. If we had no tent with us and had a little bit more to spend I would like to sleep at the Wya Point Resort! Please make sure you book in advance during high season!

How do you travel through Vancouver Island?

There is public transport on Vancouver Island, but it is not an extensive network. Canada is actually more of a road trip country and the best thing you can do is hire a motorhome or car.

How to get to Vancouver Island?

By ferry from Vancouver.

There are 2 popular ports on the mainland from where most travelers arrive: via Nanaimo (from the mainland via Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver City) or from mainland via Tsawassen.

You can also take the ferry with your vehicle, where you pay extra – the amount depends on the size of your vehicle.

Don’t have a car or motorhome? Then you can choose to get to the island by Greyhound bus. You can buy a bus/ferry combination ticket for example.

Tickets for the ferry with transportation from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) are available at the ticketoffice at the port or you can book them online ($10 extra reservation fees) via the official BBCFerries website. A single trip from Horseshoe Bay to Departurebay costs $99.70 ( around €66.3119) for 2 people with a normal car. The boating takes about 1.5 hours.

Checklist Canada

Best time to travel to Vancouver Island: March until October
Visa: You need an ETA visa if you’re from Holland. There are a lot of websites where you can apply for a Canadadian visa, but they ask more money than you should pay. Arrange your travel authorization on time and via the official channel. An eTA should not cost more than 7 CAD dollars. 
Flight tickets: Skyscanner
Best Hotel and Hostel deals: booking.com

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