WERELDREIZIGERS.NL
Home » North America » Canada » Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island | Roadtrip Canada (53)

Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island | Roadtrip Canada (53)

Vancouver Island has long been in Canada high on my wish list. Among other things because of bears, orcas, cute fishing villages and the special nature. There is so much to tell about this large island!

We went by ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo and have been on the island for almost three weeks. In this blog you will find our tips and highlights of our stay on Vancouver Island. Here and there I will refer to other (more extensive) blogs of these tips and highlights.


Plan your vacation to Canada here


Our journey through the United States and Canada

This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country. At the end of July we crossed the border to Canada via Montana.

Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.

When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.

More blogs from our trip through America and Canada

America

Canada

About Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is located in the far west of Canada (Location here ) and belongs to the province British Columbia. The capital of this province, Victoria, is located on the island. It has an area of ​​32.134 square kilometers (about the same area as the Netherlands), making it the largest island on the west coast of North America. The island is partly in front of the American stayed Washington.

Houses at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Houses at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

In total, about 865.000 people live on the island. Most of them live in the southern half of the island. Most cities are also located there. It is a very popular island to live in Canada. Slightly less popular than Montreal Island (location here ).

Every year the island also attracts many tourists from home and abroad. About four million a year.

Things to do and places of interest

1. Whale Watching

When you go to Vancouver Island, you can't miss the whale-watching. It is therefore the ultimate place to spot an orca! In several places on the island it is possible to join a tour.

A killer whale at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A killer whale at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Orcas at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Orcas at Telegraph Cove | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

With a bit of luck you can see orcas, humpback whales and gray whales. And with even better luck, sea lions and dolphins! And that in the beautiful surroundings of Vancouver Island.

An orca and the beautiful surroundings | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
An orca and the beautiful surroundings | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Mist and the zodiac boat during the whale-watch tour | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Mist and the zodiac boat during the whale-watch tour | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

There are about 10 different providers for Whale Watching tours on Vancouver Island and in and around the city of Vancouver. Many providers are located in several places, such as 'The Prince Of Whales' which you can find in Vancouver City, Victoria City and Telegraph Cove. It is wise to book a tour well in advance, because they are fully booked quickly.

sea ​​lions | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
sea ​​lions | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Dolphins | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Dolphins | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

A tour is not cheap, but well worth the money. You usually pay between 120 and 140 Canadian dollars per person. The easiest way to find and compare the different providers is via the links below:

  • From Vancouver city: click here .
  • From Victoria city: click here .
  • From Vancouver island: click here .
  • From Telegraph Cove: click here .

Chris wrote a extensive blog about whale & orca watching where you can find more information about this activity on Vancouver Island.

The tail of a humpback whale | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
The tail of a humpback whale | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

2. Victoria

Victoria (Location herer) is located in the south of Vancouver Island and is the main city on the island. It is very cozy in downtown with its many pubs.

Downtown Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Downtown Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Tip:: If you are looking for good food and/or a romantic evening, you can go out for dinner at a fish restaurant. Nautical Nellies (Location here ) On Red Fish Blue Fish (Location here ) are recommended for this!

Hotel Fairmont Empress downtown Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Hotel Fairmont Empress downtown Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

The most famous place and the eye-catcher of Victoria is it British Columbia Parliament Building (Location here ). During the day you can get a free tour in and around the building at different times. More information about this can be found at the official website.

British Columbia Parliament Building in Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
British Columbia Parliament Building in Victoria | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

A 10-minute walk away, just outside downtown, is the Fisherman's Wharf from Victoria (location here ). From here you can take a tour on a 'pickle' boat and/or have a drink and snack (fish and chips of course!). It's okay to walk past the floating houses, if you do it respectfully.

Victoria has a big park called Beacon Hill Park (Location here ). There are beautiful gardens, a viewpoint and ponds, which are also home to many peacocks and ducks.

Peacocks in Beacon Hill Park
Peacocks in Beacon Hill Park

3. Pacific Rim and Tofino

In the west of the island at the height of Nanaimo do you think Pacific Rim National Park. From parksville drive for two hours on winding roads, to reach the Pacific Rim Visitor Center (Location here ), to come.

From the Visitor Center you can choose to turn south-east, to Ucluelet (Location here ), a beautiful and cozy place. In the south you can take a walk called the Ucluelet Lighthouse Loop (Location here ), where you have a good view of the coast, the sea and the small islands. You hear sea lions in the distance, but unfortunately do not see them.

Lighthouse trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Lighthouse trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

If you choose to go the other way from the Visitor Center, towards the north-west, you will find Pacific Rim National Park. In the park you will find the Rainforest Trail (Location here ), where you can take a walk through the unique temperate rainforest.

Rainforest trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Rainforest trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Rainforest trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Rainforest trail | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

You will also find beautiful beaches in Pacific Rim National Park such as Comber's Beach en Long Beach. On Combers Beach we took a beach walk, during which we were treated to flocks of passing birds, shells and algae on the beach. With binoculars in hand, we discovered even more.

Combers Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Combers Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
The ultimate world travel camera
Fujifilm X-T4 Silver + 16-80mm
5.0

The Fujifilm X-T4 with 16-80 is the ultimate all-round world travel camera† This camera has been declared several times by both the consumer association and Tweakers.net the best system camera you can buy.

Even on the automatic mode you suddenly feel like a professional photographer! You can effortlessly shoot the most beautiful photos, and thanks to the versatile zoom range of the 16-80 lens, you can easily get closer to the action anywhere in the world.

Pros:
  • The best tested camera
  • Fantastic photos
  • 4k video at 60 fps
  • IBIS image stabilization
  • 5 year warranty
Cons:
  • Get used to it, many options!
  • Pricing
Buy now Our review
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our link(s), at no additional cost to you.
Barefoot on Combers Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Barefoot on Combers Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Tofino (Location here ) is actually a very hip surfers paradise and that is also reflected in the prices, which are higher than other places on Vancouver Island. Yet it is very cozy and it is the best place to take a surf lesson.

Mackenzie Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Mackenzie Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

If, like us, you have to watch your budget, a day visit to Tofino and the Pacific Rim is also an option. In the evening we ate at a nice beach bar near Mackenzie Beach. We ended the day with a walk on the beach and a breathtaking sunset before leaving the area.

Tip:: To save costs, just like us, you can leave the area after your day visit and look for a place to camp in the wild. This saves you roughly 50 to 100 dollars per night!

Sunset at Mackenzie Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Sunset at Mackenzie Beach | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Also read: Tips for Pacific Rim National Park, West Coast Vancouver Island

4. Roadtrippen lance along the coast

Actually, all beaches of Vancouver Island are worth a visit. You often have a view of other islands and there is a lot of life in and along the water.

For example, we always saw seals and otters in the Provincial Parks. It was difficult to capture them as they were playing hide and seek with us. Fortunately there was a marten that showed itself well and especially kept a close eye on us!

Plan your vacation to Canada here

A black marten in the tree at Miracle Beach Provincial Park | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A black marten in the tree at Miracle Beach Provincial Park | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A black marten in the tree at Miracle Beach Provincial Park | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A black marten in the tree at Miracle Beach Provincial Park | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

For several days we have made stops at the beaches and provincial parks, to walk along the water and/or have a dip.

Plan your vacation to Canada here

5. Bear watching at Campbell River

Admittedly, it took us some time to find bears at Campbell River. When we got there for the third time, we had actually given up and walked back to the parking lot, when we still managed to spot a bear. I doubted for a moment whether I was looking at a dark place, until I saw that the place had black ears!

A bear at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A bear at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A bear at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
A bear at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

We got the tip from locals to look for the bears near Quinsam River just before sunset or just after sunrise. Around this time, when the area is calm, the bears go fishing for their meal (salmon) from the river for the day.

Whether you spot a bear or not, the area is beautiful and so wooded that it reminds you of a rainforest.

Trees at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Trees at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Chris wrote an extensive blog about bear spotting and here you will find more information, photos and a description of our experience!

Also read: Campbell River, Bear Watching and Elk Falls | Roadtrip Canada (49)

6. Wine Tasting and Tour

In and around the place Nanaimo (location hier) are located several vineyards and wineries, where they often offer tours and/or tastings on their estate. A perfect relaxed activity on a sunny day!

Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard Trees at Quinsam River | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Wine tasting at Blue Grouse | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Wine tasting at Blue Grouse | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

You can make a combination of different activities yourself. For example, combine a lunch with a tasting and/or tour. And take a bottle of your favorite wine home (or to your RV).

Wines at Blue Grouse | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Wines at Blue Grouse | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Do you prefer the specialty beers? Then you can have fun in the city of Victoria! There are many breweries there. Definitely 10 in the vicinity of Downtown Victoria, who are happy to let you taste their specialties.

7. Street Art in Chemainus

The murals (murals) in Chemainus (location here ) are unique and definitely worth a visit. The city is nice for a short stopover and also to spend the night here at one of the free motorhome pitches.

One of the murals in Chemainus | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
One of the murals in Chemainus | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Even the Subway in Chemainus is decorated with murals
Even the Subway in Chemainus is decorated with murals

In total there are almost 100 (!) murals in this town and you can see them all in about half an hour, because you can walk through them in no time.

Chemainus | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Chemainus | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

8. Pot holes

You can find so-called potholes at Oyster River Potholes (Location here ) Bee Campbell River (place Sooke Pothole Provincial Park (Location here ) in southern Vancouver Island.

Oyster River Potholes | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Oyster River Potholes | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

We went to the potholes in Oyster River. While we were on the highway, Google Maps said we had reached our destination. However, we saw nothing, not even on the other side. A few cars were parked on the hard shoulder near an overpass. We put our camper behind it and walked down, where we soon saw that we were in the right place.

If you visit the place, beware! The rock is very smooth.

Oyster River Potholes
Oyster River Potholes | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

Practical information and tips

Camping

wild camping

Wild camping (or free overnight stays) on Vancouver Island is possible. In the north it is easier than in the south of the island. We found our spots as usual mainly with the app iOverlander.

Some examples are:
– In the parking lot of Maritime Heritage Center and the harbor in Campbell River (Location here ).
– At the port of Port McNeill (Location here ), where they even have showers for a fee at the Visitor Center.
– Behind the Canada Tire in parksville (Location here ).
- In the centre of Chemainus (Location here ), where they have created parking spaces especially for campers where you can stay overnight for free.

Maritime Heritage Center parking lot | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
Maritime Heritage Center parking lot | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
The pier near our wild camping site | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island
The pier with fishermen near our wild camping site | Tips & Highlights Vancouver Island

near Tofino wild camping is not possible and not allowed. From what we have heard, the police are not reluctant to hand out fines. The closest option for wild camping is a spot along the road (location here ), a half hour drive from Tofino. It can be very busy here with campers.

Camping sites

Private campsites

There are a lot of campsites on the island and you will immediately notice that. Most campsites are located on the coast and expensive (50-70 CAD). The campsites around Tofino add to that, they are around 90 CAD per night.

If you're traveling for a few weeks or just have enough money, go for it! The campgrounds on Vancouver Island are generally well-maintained and complete. However, those who, like us, make a long trip and live on a limited budget, will unfortunately have to skip these campsites.

Provincial Parks (+ campsites)

's campsites Provincial Parks however, are affordable. They are popular and booking a spot is recommended. Some examples are Rathtrevor Provincial Park in parksville en Green Point Campground at Long Beach near Tofino. An overnight stay costs about 35 CAD. All facilities are available and they offer spacious pitches in a green environment.

In our Victoria is gold stream the nearest Provincial Park with a campsite of the same name (location here ). It is a very large campsite, so reservations do not seem necessary. In less than half an hour you drive from the campsite to downtown Victoria.

Our spot at Goldstream Campground, about half an hour from Victoria
Our spot at Goldstream Campground, about half an hour from Victoria

Groceries and refueling

Shopping and refueling is easy in the southern part of the island. In the north it is a bit more difficult. There are still plenty of options for shopping, but the cheaper supermarkets such as Walmart and Safe-On-Foods can't be found in the north. If you are driving north, it is also wise to check where the gas stations are located. Fuel prices are also higher in the north.

Finally,

Vancouver Island did not disappoint! And although we have been able to enjoy all the beauty that Vancouver Island has to offer for almost three weeks, we do not feel that we have seen everything yet.

The island is very versatile. With its rainy and misty weather in the north, sunny beaches in the south and rugged coast in the west and, like the rest of Canada, great lakes and waterfalls. The wildlife of Vancouver Island is exceptional and I believe there is no place like this on Earth…

Plan your vacation to Canada here

Plan your vacation to Canada here

Avatar picture

Malou

From an early age 👶 I have been fascinated by distant travels and other cultures. Seen many a country 🗺️, but certainly not ready yet! At this age (31) I often think about how to organize my life further. When I travel, I quickly let go of that and I can fully enjoy the here and now 🧘.
At home 🏠 I have a job in childcare, but at the moment I have a year off to go on an adventure with my husband Chris and the camper 🚐 in the US 🇺🇸 and Canada 🇨🇦

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

Written by:

Avatar picture

Malou

SOUGHT

TRAVEL CHECKLIST

✔️ This travel insurance also covers orange covid-areas.
✔️ Compare and book the cheapest airline tickets here..
✔️ Save and book the best services.
✔️ Multiple hotels? Then book with 20% Genius discount.
✔️ Save and reserve your airport parking spot.
✔️ Roadtrip† Compare and book a discount rental car.
✔️ Prepare for a trip? Score a practical travel Guide.
✔️ Need a backpack or suitcase? Offers here.
✔️ Gift† I'm giving away 500 times 10 euros!

Translate »
Copy link