From nice to know, to need to know, our handy guide to Vancouver Island will help you make the most out of your vacation to Vancouver Island.
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Vancouver Island is a long, skinny island off the west coast of Canada. It is approximately 460 km long, 100 kms wide (at its widest point) and about 32,000 square kilometres. Read more about our magical island and some of the terrific things to do here.
The Island is home to British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria. The following 13 municipalities make up what is known as Greater Victoria:
Other main cities, towns and popular destinations on the island include:
The Island is located on the Cascadia Subduction Zone which is a 1,000 km fault running from the northern tip of the island all the way down the west coast to California.
This means that we are in an area where earthquakes may occur.
Many British Columbians annually take part in the Great Shakeout to ensure we are familiar with the most up-to-date protocols. This helps to ensure the safety of residents and visitors. We recommend you take a few minutes to ensure you are aware of what to do to prepare for an emergency and the types of items to include in an emergency kit.
The island has been home to many indigenous people for thousands of years and remains the homeland of 50 First Nations. They are located in three distinct tribal regions–Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island. Be sure to visit the Royal BC Museum First People Gallery and Our Living Languages exhibition to learn more about the people and the culture.
In the 18th century, both British and Spanish explorers set foot on the island and by the mid 1800’s, settlement of a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company began.
Today, Vancouver Island has a population of approximately 900,000 – half of whom live in the southern part of the island in the Greater Victoria region.
To drive from one end to the other, it would take you approximately 8 hours and you would be treated to scenic ocean drives, towering trees, majestic mountains and abundant wildlife. The speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour. Approximate driving speed conversions are:
Most communities enforce a 30 km/h school zone which is in effect on school days between 8 am and 5 pm. Some areas post playground zones which are also 30 km/h however they are in effect 7 days per week, from dusk until dawn.
Other useful information:
Vancouver Island boasts the mildest climate in Canada, in particular the southern portion of the island. It is so mild in fact that some years we don’t even get a flake of snow and several gardeners grow tropical fruit such as lemons and limes. Read more about the weather in Greater Victoria here.
Almost all purchases are subject to taxes in BC and as of 2023, they are 7% Provincial Sales Tax plus 5% Goods and Services Tax (federal). Notable exceptions that are not taxable include food for human consumption, books and magazines, and children’s clothing. Some items are taxed at higher provincial rate and include liquor (10%+5% GST = 15%), vapour products (20%+5% GST = 25%) and accommodations (8% plus up to 3% municipal and regional district tax + 5% GST).
Got more questions about money in Canada? Read more here.
Other information you need to know:
In British Columbia, 19 is the legal age for:
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