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Vancouver Island Travel Guide

  • Photo: 2009fotofriends/Shutterstock

Plan Your Vancouver Island Vacation

With a few days in the area, you have time to explore farther on Vancouver Island than just Victoria. Sooke and the Southwest Coast, the Cowichan Valley, or one of the Gulf Islands can make an easy day-trip from Victoria, though any of them can warrant a weekend or longer for more serious exploration. These three regions around Victoria can be connected, so you don't have to retrace your steps.

More time? Head northwest for the stunning coastal wilderness of Tofino, Ucluelet, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

How to choose? For wilderness beaches and forested hiking trails, take Highway 14 or cycle the Galloping Goose Trail to Sooke and the southwest coast. For food, wine, and First Nations culture, head north over the stunning Malahat drive to the Cowichan Valley. Arts, crafts, kayaking, white-shell beaches, and a touch of neo-hippie island culture await those who visit Salt Spring Island, especially on market Saturdays (Salt Spring is also the only side trip easily manageable by public transport). You can truly get away from it all on the islands of Galiano, Mayne, or Pender. For families, the Cowichan Valley, with its interesting nature centers, has the most obvious kid appeal, though all three destinations have beaches, forests, and cute farm animals.

Wherever you go, food will play a big part in your experience. Vancouver Islanders are often credited with starting the "locavore" movement. Wild salmon, Pacific oysters, locally made artisanal cheeses, forest-foraged mushrooms, organic vegetables, local microbrews, and even wines from the island's family-run wineries can all be sampled here.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Storm Watching in Tofino Its beaches and rain forests make Tofino one of BC's most sublime warm-weather environments; come November, the rampant fury of its coastal storms is an even more extraordinary experience.
  2. Enjoying the rustic charms of the Gulf Islands Whether you choose well-developed Salt Spring Island, pretty Galiano Island, historic Mayne Island, beachy Pender Island, or remote Saturna Island, you'll find a wealth of experiences.
  3. Exploring the Cowichan Valley With excellent food, wine, and First Nations culture, the valley makes a great excursion from Victoria for foodies or families.
  4. Traveling to Sooke and Beyond Bike or hike along the Galloping Goose Trail to Sooke, or drive scenic Highway 14 to the wilderness beaches and trails of the island's southwest coast.

When To Go

When to Go

July and August are, not surprisingly, peak season on Vancouver Island. That's when the weather is fine, and all that hiking, camping, boating...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:



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