First vacation to Vancouver island

Old Feb 16th, 2023, 09:48 AM
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First vacation to Vancouver island

Hey there !
Im planning a vacation with my husband and another couple for 6 days in the middle of April and am curious if I should be concerned about weather !
our plan is to stay 2 nights in Victoria than head down the east coast sightseeing to Parksville for a night than over to Ucluelet for 2 nights .
We are outdoors people who are also foodies and would like to see some wildlife and waterfalls whale watching from shore would be great too🤗.. Any recommendations or advice about this itinerary would be appreciated .
Ive been looking into some air BNBs but are open to affordable hotels 😉
thanks a bunch
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Old Feb 16th, 2023, 03:44 PM
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Vancouver Island is beautiful any time of year, IMO! Expect rain in April, then if you don’t get any, great! Even in the rain it won’t be freezing cold, the trees will be blooming and so will many plants. The BC museum is a must, allow at least 2 hours, which will be a rushed tour. Fisherman’s Wharf has delicious sea food. Are you renting a car? If so be sure to drive up Island via Highway 19A so as not to miss the small quaint towns (the Malahat Highway is a boring bypass, again IMO) Check out Coombs, and look for goats on the market roof, and Chemainus, the town of murals. The only time we have seen whales on the east coast is on a tour boat, but you will see many bald headed eagles fishing along the way.
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 06:20 AM
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Thanks for your input 😉very appreciated .
we are thinking about renting 1 place to stay the whole time and doing day trips for outtings 🤔..
a day in Victoria, a day exploring the east coast and inland , a day in Tofino ect.. is this doable or would it be too much driving 🤷‍♀️ its a 16 hour drive just for us to get to Victoria 😅.. will be resting a night in Kamloops than 4 nights on the island .. not sure how windy it is on the ocean so found something inland on lake Cowichan ( super affordable)but not sure . Is that too far out ?!! Should I stick to 2 nights in Victoria and 2 nights around parksville ?!!! Decisions 🤦‍♀️
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 08:50 AM
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If it were me, I would stay at Qualicum Beach or Parksville the whole time and do day trips. Saves you moving from place to place, and it is a good central town for places you indicated you want to see. If you like oysters, Fanny Bay Oysters are to die for!! Fanny Bay is just north of Parksville on 19A. On the east side of the Island you are a bit protected by all of the island between you and the mainland, so isnt as windy as open ocean. The ferry ride offers some amazing scenery. Are you catching the ferry to Victoria or Nanaimo?
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 10:31 AM
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We plan to catch the ferry to Nanaimo because we have family and friends in Cowichan lake and Parksville .
I am definitely liking the idea of staying in one place !! Found a townhouse in sunrise ridge 🤷‍♀️not super private though found a lake house near Cowichan lake..a little far still looking around but would like it to be affordable. Maybe Im being too fussy .. lol
Your right about parksville being a good centre 😉
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 08:06 PM
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Hows the Shawinigan lake area 🤔
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Old Feb 18th, 2023, 06:14 AM
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I am not familiar with Shawnigan Lake. Good call to take Horseshoe Bay ferry to Nanaimo…Horseshoe Bay terminal is very straightforward and easy to get to, you basically stay right on Highway 1 right through Vancouver and end up at the terminal. And there are restaurants and a few shops you can visit if you are early for your sailing. Also, you may want to consider making a reservation for sailing. What we do is make on for later than we really expect to be arriving at the terminal. Then if we are early, and there is room on the ship, we change the reservation as we go through the gate…the attendant at the gates do that for you. I think there is a minimal fee for it, but then you are guaranteed a sailing without waiting hours and hours, which sometimes is the case, especially around holidays and weekends.
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Old Feb 18th, 2023, 06:44 AM
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This is very good information to have !! Thank you so much for all your help 😉
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Old Feb 19th, 2023, 06:07 AM
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Don’t know if caving is of interest, but these are very near Parksville. We took our granddaughters there a few years ago and it was thrilling/interesting
https://hornelake.com
Have a great vacation.
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Old Feb 20th, 2023, 06:45 PM
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April can be wonderful on Vancouver Island. Agreed that you have to go there expecting rain any time of the year, and just simply embrace it. We've had record drought the past few years and record heat waves which is killing off trees and making the ecosystems stressed. If we get rain in April, be very grateful! It normally is a lush, wet island and April is still a part of the rainy season, but it's not monsoon thunderstorm rain like you find in say, Texas or Chicago, but gentle on-off drizzle. The east coast of the Island (Victoria, Parksville, Cowichan Valley) is a smidgen drier than the wild primeval west coast of the island, which is famous for its mossy, lichen-draped temperate rainforest ecosystem, which can only exist in a rainy climate. But I wouldn't fear the weather in April. The spring flowers will already have been blooming for a while by the time April comes around. And generally the temperatures are quite mild.

The most dramatic nature and scenery is found in and around Tofino and Ucluelet, specifically in Pacific Rim National Park, which is the major attraction for that region and is located between the two villages. This is the part of Vancouver Island where you'll want to maximize your time if you're outdoorsy people. It's where the old growth temperate rainforest is extremely accessible with a series of short easy walking trails and still hasn't been hacked away or clearcut as it has elsewhere on Vancouver Island. There are wildlife tours (especially to see bears that forage along the shore, but also whales), Indigenous cultural tours, and the most healthy marine ecosystems on the island exist there. The beaches are absolutely stunning - both rocky shoreline around Ucluelet and the sandy coved beaches closer to Tofino. These aren't beaches where people swim, sunbathe and party, but where people quietly stroll for hours, or sit around bonfires and take in the mystical otherworldly setting. Here's a photo of Cox Bay just south of Tofino, to give you a sense of its magic: https://bit.ly/3Y3iKAe

There's also excellent food there too. Book the 5-course wine and tasting menu at Pluvio in Uclulet if you're a foodie (it books up months in advance), or look up Wolf in the Fog, and get some tacos from Tacofino, a local food truck. Tofino Brewing has some good beer and there are some fantastic coffee roasters there, like Rhino. The towns are fairly small places - no chain restaurants, no suburban sprawl, no large highways - you really do feel like you're at the end of the world there. But for me, I would at spend three nights in Tofino or Ucluelet to savour the nature in Pacific Rim National Park, and perhaps lessen your time in Parksville.

Parksville is very pleasant, don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with it. It's central if you want to drive north to the Comox Valley and south to the Cowichan Valley. But to me, it's where retired folks and young families with toddlers like to enjoy miles of shallow sandy beaches without worrying about the cold water or that a large wave will take them out to sea. It's home to a famous sandcastle building beach, and still has some of the retro beach tourism vibe, with family-run motels, ice cream, and mini golf. There's an understated beauty there, but it also feels very suburban. The forests are younger because the area has been logged several times, and the trees are smaller, but it's also a different, drier ecosystem with beautiful red-bark arbutus trees.

For the Cowichan Valley, that's a favourite place of mine for cider sipping, wine touring, exploring the little farms and artisans (like Westholme Tea Farm who grow some of their own tea and also make their own pottery), and the Duncan Farmers Market (the largest and most impressive on the island). I spent a long weekend there two summers ago and had such a wonderful time. Like you, I'm outdoorsy and am a foodie. I had the best wine-pairing dinner at Unsworth Vineyards, who do a beautiful table setting al fresco in the warmer months. The wines are divine. Averill Creek was another winery I loved, specifically for its bubbly. Sipping cider at Merridale Cidery was also fun. When we stayed there, we found an AirBnB laneway house in Cobble Hill, which was perfect for us.
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