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Is Tofino the best home base to explore Vancouver Island?

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Mar 23rd, 2014, 08:34 AM
  #1
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Is Tofino the best home base to explore Vancouver Island?

Hello fodor's helpers. Is Tofino the best home base for 3 or 4 nights to explore Vancouver Island by car? We will have spent 2 or 3 nights in Victoria and will be driving to Vancouver, Jasper and Banff afterwards. We want to be in or near a town with good dining options. We are 2 active 60 year old women who plan to swim, kayak, hike, ride horses, and bike, interspersed with leisurely lunches and cocktails and fine dining at the end of the day. Also, if during our 3 weeks in Canada, we want to visit wineries and overnight nearby, would you recommend Okanagan Valley or Cowichan Valley near Victoria? Are there organized winery tours from Victoria into Cowichan Valley? (Don't want to sample wine and then drive.) Thanks in advance. I'm addicted to reading these forums -- a wealth of info!
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Mar 24th, 2014, 01:27 PM
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Tofino would be a great place to explore the Tofino and Ucluelet area and hike in the Pacific Rim National Park. But not the whole island, no. It's a big, long island; this area is reached by a single road across the island that connect to a road running between Tofino & Ucluelet. Allow about 3 hours to drive across the island (Nanaimo to Tofino); about 4 hours to drive from Victoria to Tofino. That doesn't include stops, of course.

From Victoria, you can explore the southern section of the island. Between these two locations, you can do quite a bit, so I wouldn't worry about trying to access the northern, more rugged/sparsely settled northern tip.

I'd recommend the Okanagan Valley, if you have the time. It's a 4-hour drive from Vancouver and the landscape is very different. Some really excellent wineries as well, and plenty of places to stay, dine.

Check out HelloBC's website: http://www.hellobc.com/
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Mar 25th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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Thank you sludick!
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Apr 5th, 2014, 06:44 PM
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If your plan is to work your way to Banff, I'd skip Tofino, regrettably. It's absolutely stunning but well out of your way & deserves a separate visit. Sludick is right - go to the OK Valley & enjoy the desert climate & wine. I'd recommend Oliver as a base as there are far more wineries there than elsewhere in the Valley. Plus many tour companies. Book a room @ Hester Creek Winery - lovely w/super food. Maybe drive Hwy 3 & stop @ the wineries in the less known Similkameen Valley enroute. Then north through Kelowna, Vernon, Revelstoke & Banff. Oliver to Revelstoke is maybe 4 hours drive. Banff is maybe 4 hours beyond.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 07:17 PM
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arkaykay - I have debated booking a room at Hester Creek's (newish to me) lodging options; how has your experience been? Nice idea.

keysgirl - for us, the Okanagan is a nice, wide open area for wineries, activities, and dining. Oliver has styled itself as the "Wine Capital of BC" and that is accurate enough. There, or Penticton, would be most centrally located. Osoyoos, at the most southern range, has Spirit Ridge and Watermark Resort. Allow an hour to drive up to Kelowna, as you are estimating.

If you are then heading for Banff, you can head north out of Kelowna, through an area that is more white-white and fruit farming. You'll catch the road to Banff around Sicamous/ Salmon Arm. Very pretty.

At this point, am a bit curious as to you overall travel/vacation plan. If you are locals (reasonably defined), you might have other priorities.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 07:21 PM
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Spell check purgatory - "white-white" should read "white wine." Apologies.
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