Explore Vancouver Island’s outdoor adventures and living history
Vancouver Island offers a wide range of recreational activities and cultural experiences. Wildlife watching expeditions, kayaking, surfing, and mountain biking trails make the region a perfect getaway for the outdoors enthusiast, while its unique retail outlets and museums make strolling also an adventure. Home to the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, Vancouver Island also offers a wide range of Aboriginal experiences.
Logistics (getting here):
Book a flight from Seattle to Victoria. Regular float plane service to Victoria’s downtown Inner Harbour is available. There are also flights from many major airlines to the Victoria International Airport (YYJ). All flight listings can be viewed here. You can also take a passenger ferry from Seattle, or a vehicle ferry from Port Angeles.
Once you arrive in Victoria, rent a car or RV.
Victoria, the province’s capital and the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, is a breathtakingly beautiful historical city. Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum or walk through Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There are also plenty of outdoor adventures to choose from including ziplining, kayaking, hiking and cycling.
You may also wish to drive to the nearby harbour town of Sidney and discover the rich cultural history of the Coast Salish people on a whale-watching and cultural interpretive tour.
Leave Victoria to drive north along Highway 1. On the way to Nanaimo, stop at the Riverwalk Café in Duncan for some authentic contemporary Native cuisine. Continue north to downtown Nanaimo, a harbour town with amazing historical sites. Take a water taxi ride across the Nanaimo harbour to Newcastle Island, a place of significance to the Snuneymuxw Coast Salish people, and hike its 22 km trail system.
From Nanaimo, Port Alberni is north along the Island Highway past the resort town of Parksville, then west on Highway #4 towards the Pacific Rim National Park. A must-see attraction is the Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Park, a Douglas fir old-growth forest with trees more than 800 years old.
Port Alberni offers hiking, mountain biking, recreational fishing, and various water activities. The Ahtsik Native Art Gallery showcases handcrafted work from many Canadian Aboriginal artists, and oftentimes visitors can witness artists at work.
Head west on the highway until you arrive at the junction of Highway 4 and the Pacific Rim Highway you can head south to Ucluelet or North to Tofino.
Ucluelet offers beaches, community parks, restaurants, unique shops and galleries, an aquarium and a range of accommodation choices including the Thornton Motel.
Tofino is located in the famed Clayoquot Sound region, home to the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. This region is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and a centuries-old rainforest and mountains to the other. The town is famous for its surfing and whale watching. T’ashii Paddle School offers canoeing and paddle boarding. Stay in Tofino at the Best Western Tin Wis Resort.