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Camping on Vancouver Island

With so many diverse options, camping on Vancouver Island can be for everyone! Do you want family-friendly? A rustic cabin on the beach? A full-service provincial park? How about camping in your car - maybe for free? Vancouver Island has it all, and my goal with this section is to help you get the information you need to make your camping on Vancouver Island experience enjoyable and memorable (for all the right reasons!)

This section is new as of Spring 2022 and is growing quickly but you may not find all the answers you are looking for yet. In that case, be sure to visit my Facebook group Experience Victoria and Vancouver Island and ask your question there. Either myself or one of our knowledgeable group members will try to help. 

Camping on Vancouver Island by Region

For the purposes of this guide, each of the campgrounds that are listed will be sorted by geographic region. We follow the same boundaries as the Island Health Authority. Communities in each region are:

North Island

  • Campbell River
  • Cape Scott
  • Comox
  • Courtenay
  • Cumberland
  • Gold River
  • Mount Waddington
  • Port Alice
  • Port Hardy
  • Port McNeill
  • Sayward
  • Telegraph Cove
  • Zeballos

Central Island

  • Bowser
  • Chemainus
  • Coombs
  • Cowichan Bay
  • Deep Bay
  • Duncan
  • Errington
  • Fanny Bay
  • Ladysmith
  • Lake Cowichan
  • Malahat
  • Mill Bay
  • Nanaimo
  • Nanoose Bay
  • Parksville
  • Port Alberni
  • Qualicum Bay
  • Qualicum Beach
  • Shawnigan Lake
  • Tofino
  • Ucluelet

South Island

  • Central Saanich
  • Colwood
  • Esquimalt
  • Highlands
  • Langford
  • Metchosin
  • North Saanich
  • Oak Bay
  • Port Renfrew
  • Saanich
  • Sidney
  • Sooke
  • Victoria
  • View Royal

Backcountry vs Frontcountry Camping

Generally speaking, backcountry camping means that you are not near a road or developed area. Parks BC defines it as an area that is more than 1 km from any highway or park road, not accessible by vehicle and has limited facilites.

At the provincial park backcountry sites, campers can expect to carry all their equipment (including water) to a remote site.

However, if you choose to go camping on Vancouver Island at one of the many recreation sites (sometimes referred to as forestry sites), these too would be considered backcountry and yet many are accessible by vehicle. Although the access roads are frequently remote and in poor condition! 

Frontcountry camping refers to sites that are accessible by vehicle and offer services that may include amenities such as running water, hot showers, playgrounds, boat launches and cut firewood.

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