Vancouver Island Travel: Discover the Breathtaking Island
You Never Knew Existed

Victoria is a great starting point for your Vancouver Island travel dreams. The Island you never knew you wanted to see until now!

With an international airport and international and domestic ferry terminals, and all the amenities, services and supplies you need, Victoria provides a natural base camp for your Vancouver Island travel adventure. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

The Island is 460 km long and 50 to 120 km wide. It is located parallel to the west coast of British Columbia in Canada with the southern tip dipping below the 49th parallel and separated from the United States by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Be sure to read our guide to the island essentials for everything you need to know before your Vancouver Island travel adventures. 

Experience Wild Adventure on the Island!

The Island’s topography is highlighted by a rugged coastline with a heavily forested, mountainous interior sprinkled with lakes, rivers and streams that are bursting with marine life and begging to be explored. 

With this varied terrain comes an incredibly diverse range of activities to participate in. Some of the most popular Vancouver Island travel activities that people visit for are:

  • Hiking the West Coast Trail (WCT) – 7 days of punishing yet exhilarating trekking; requires advance preparation
  • Hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail – 3-5 days, not as gruelling as the WCT but equally as thrilling
  • Visiting Strathcona Provincial Park - largely an undeveloped wilderness park, most of which requires hiking or backpacking into alpine regions - home of Della Falls (one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada)
  • Viewing Island waterfalls - discover 10 of the best waterfalls on Vancouver Island
  • Storm watching in Tofino – with no landmass between Tofino and Japan, the wind has plenty of time to build up and unleash its fury on the coast with crashing waves up to 20 feet high. Storm season is November through February
  • Surfing in Tofino – rentals and lessons available or come to town for the Surf Canada National Championships
  • Whale watching
  • Kayaking the Broken Islands
  • Attending/participating in the annual Sand Castle Competition in Parksville 
  • Salmon and halibut guided fishing charters
  • Mountain biking at the Bear Mountain Bike Park, home to The Canadian National Mountain Biking Team   
  • Camping– Vancouver Island is one of the best places to camp on the planet and I have an entire section dedicated to camping. Keep reading here
  • Caving at Horne Lake
  • Visiting Butchart Gardens
  • Vancouver Island Golf Trail – 250 km of golfer’s paradise with 12 championship courses all capitalizing on the spectacular natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Skiing at Mount Washington – an alpine ski resort located approximately 3 hours north of Victoria (245km)
  • Road cycling in the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria - choose from routes ranging from 2km to 160 km around Greater Victoria and the southern end of the island
  • Wine tours and tastings – half day or full days tours from Victoria to the Southern Island wine regions
  • The BC Ale Trail – three to choose from on the island: Victoria, Vancouver Island Part I (Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo) or Vancouver Island Part II (Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni and the Comox Valley)

Another very popular Vancouver Island travel option is to stay in the Victoria area and take day trips throughout the southern island region. Common day trips include:

French Beach

Experience the rugged beauty of our coastline at French Beach Provincial Park - easily accessed and located approximately one hour west of Victoria. 

Chemainus 

Chemainus is a seaside community renowned for its sculptures and 40+ murals on various buildings throughout the community. Also, home to a professional theatre.

One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals and scuptures in Chemainus BC

Cathedral Grove

Cathedral Grove is home to massive Douglas Fir and Red Cedar, some of which are estimated to be 800 years old, towering to heights of 250 ft and 29 feet in circumference. It is an awe-inspiring place that every tourist and resident should see. Take an entire group on a waterfalls, Cathedral Grove and Coombs day trip with this amazing tour.

Parksville

The long sandy beach of Parksville is a beautiful escape in all seasons but it is highlighted during the annual Beachfest which runs from mid July until the third week in August. This family-oriented beach festival features free concerts, artisan markets, buskers and the main event - the sand sculpting competition and exhibition. 

Butchart Gardens

Over 100 years in the making, the Butchart Gardens are of lush oasis of colourful blooms and greenery covering 55 acres. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada and could possibly be Victoria’s most popular tourist attraction with over a million visitors annually. Get tickets here.

Goldstream Provincial Park 

Hiking Mount Finlayson and enjoying the day use areas of the Goldstream Provincial Park are popular throughout the year but what attracts most visitors is the annual salmon run beginning mid October followed by the eagle extravaganza a few weeks later.

Ultimate Vancouver Island Travel Itinerary

There's even more to see and do if you have one to two weeks (or more!) to travel around the island. We'll be expanding this section soon but for now, here's a couple sample itineraries to get you started.

One-week travel itinerary

Two-week travel itinerary

  • Day 1: Victoria (find things to do in Victoria here)
  • Day 2: Sooke
  • Day 3: Port Renfrew 
  • Day 4: Lake Cowichan/Chemainus
  • Day 4: Coombs/Port Alberni
  • Days 5-7: Tofino/Ucluelet 
  • Day 8: Courtenay/Comox
  • Day 9: Campbell River 
  • Day 10-11: Port Hardy/Cape Scott Provincial Park
  • Day 12: Parksville
  • Day 13: Nanaimo 
  • Day 14: Victoria

As you can see, the Vancouver Island travel scene is incredibly diverse and we know you’ll enjoy your time here. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the wildlife and how to stay safe. We look forward to welcoming you to our piece of paradise. 

Be sure to like us on Facebook to stay up to date on what's happening in Victoria. 

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