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Please help with itinerary to Vancouver, Gulf Islands, and Tofino

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Mar 30th, 2006, 10:55 AM
  #1
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Please help with itinerary to Vancouver, Gulf Islands, and Tofino

My wife and I are planning a vacation for the second half of May to Vancouver, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island. While we have both been to Vancouver and Victoria (separately), we’d like to explore the Gulf Islands and Tofino on this trip, in addition to revisiting Vancouver. The goal is enjoy nature, relax, hike, and see a bit of Vancouver.

Because of restrictions on an award certificate on an airline, we need to fly in and out of Seattle, not Vancouver.

We are currently thinking of the following three places: Vancouver, Mayne Island (Oceanwood Inn) and Tofino (Wickaninnish Inn). Any thoughts about the do-ability of these three destinations, originating out of Seattle, over 10 nights? Are Mayne and Tofino too similar? Should we ditch one of those in favor of, say, Whistler instead? If not, what should be the order of the three, and how best to get from one to the other (I assume we will rent a car in Seattle and have it for the entirety of our stay).

Finally, how crowded will these places be for Victoria Day? Is that a good time or bad time to travel in terms of crowds?

I’ve outlined a very tentative schedule below. I have no idea whether this is feasible, particularly because it seems like there’s a lot of backtracking and driving around involved.

May 17: arrive in Seattle at 1:45 p.m.; rent car and catch 3:15 ferry to Victoria; drive from Victoria to Swartz Bay; catch 7:35 p.m. ferry to Mayne Island. (Better to drive from Seattle to Tsawwassen and ferry to Mayne that way?) Stay four nights at Oceanwood Inn on Mayne Island.

May 21: catch ferry to Vancouver. Spend three nights in Vancouver.

May 24: catch ferry to Nanaimo; drive to Tofino; two nights at Wickaninnish Inn.

May 26: drive to Victoria; ferry back to Seattle; spend night in Seattle.

May 27: departure in early morning back to east coast.

Any suggestions on how to streamline this itinerary, better places to stay, etc., would be greatly appreciated. I'm an American from the east coast but we are looking forward to spending time in beautiful BC. We spent some time on San Juan Island a couple of years ago and loved it. Thanks in advance.
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Mar 30th, 2006, 01:17 PM
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ltt
 
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mayne island - i really like the place and am going there myself, again, this summer. it is very small and very low keyed. great place to relax. if you wish to try some kayaking, contact the great folks at blue vista resort. they'll take you out for a day trip.
i would suggest that you move one night from mayne island to tofino.
have fun.
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Mar 30th, 2006, 07:03 PM
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If it's nature and hiking you want Mayne offers very little of the former and zip of the latter.

I'm on record here as calling parts of Mayne Island a 'rural slum' and I stick by my words.

For a relaxing holiday in a peaceful bucolic setting try Pender Island .

Both North and Sound Pender are unique welcoming places with working family farms going back generations as well as the best Farmers' Market in BC bar none =D>
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Mar 31st, 2006, 10:46 AM
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Hi coffee addict, This is what I would do May 17th arrive Seattle drive to Vancouver May 18 19 and 20th in Vancouver. Use one of these days for a day trip up to Whistler. May 21 go to Pender Island {I agree with SamS} May 22 Pender Island. May 23 take ferry from Pender to Shwartz bay, drive to Tofino Stay in Tofino May 23, 24,and 25 on the 26th take ferry from Victoria to Seattle 27th Home. On Pender see if there is anything being rented at Poets cove. Wikkininish inn is very nice although middle beach lodgings are cheaper. See if they have any packages at Wikkininish as May is between seasons{storm watching and summer} You need to make a reservation for your car on the gulf Island ferries. Go to bc ferries
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Mar 31st, 2006, 10:47 AM
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sorry I sent to soon Go to bc ferries website for info. Have fun.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:04 AM
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Here's what I have to say abot Oceanwood...I would absolutely never stay there again! We went there expecting "the innkeeper's inn". We stayed for several days. We had reserved a table in the dining room only to be told we were seated by the service buffet because we needed to specify a table in the am. We did so and were seated by the service buffet the 2nd pm. The male owner replied upon our inquiry he might have to "beat his wife" for not have seated us by the window despite our respecting their previously specifed reservation policy. In short, the guy was a major CREEP! We will never revisit the Oceanwood. I'd personally opt for someplace on Salt Spring Island.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:24 AM
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For those of you recommending Pender,
then, would you say you like Pender more than SaltSpring, Galiano & Saturna, too?

Have been to Mayne, Galiano AND Salt Spring...liked various elements of each. Planning a similar trip to coffeeaddict...and possibly also in May so forgive me for asking questions on this thread, but I find responses here most interesting!

We're trying to mostly decide since we've never been to Tofino, like coffeeaddict if the islands are enough 'different' from Tofino to include them this time around or not.

Thoughts on this? Thanks!
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:26 AM
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Also how is the weather in mid to late May in Tofino & the island.

We need to choose btwn our anniversary time (May)...mid-summer like July & end of Aug/early Sept.

Considering late Aug option or even Sept due to thinking about a trip to Telegraph Cove to see orcas & grizzlies. Guess grizzly viewing is best then due to fishing vs. springtime when you're much further away. (and no orcas to be found near TC)

Any opinions from this group what time of year you most enjoy on Vanc Island?
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:34 AM
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coffeeaddict...the time you have allotted for renting car & catching ferry to Victoria seems way too tight?

Where are you getting the ferry? (Port Angeles?)
You'll need much more time, it seems!

Also, I've been to Mayne & didn't find it like others here. It was some yrs ago but not that long ago...maybe 6 yrs or so. Even stayed at Oceanwood which was fine...quite a quiet spot. (like most of the island) However, we didn't have encounters like others here w/owner saying such things.
Perhaps they have new owners?

Anyway, w/out any negative impressions, I agree w/other poster that 2-3 nights would be plenty on Mayne. It's just not that big, whereas Tofino area which I'm studying up on currently, probably has more activities to do than you could ever get done in even 3-4 nights!

However, if just wanting to majorly relax, read books & take quiet walks on the beach...that Mayne will offer.
But so too can Tofino, so might be 'safest' to increase time there & take a few days from Mayne.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 04:26 PM
  #10
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Thanks for all the comments!

I think we will increase Tofino by one night and decrease Mayne by one night.

I had tentatively sketched in Mayne Island because--prior to PamSF's comments--I had read nothing but glowing reviews of Oceanwood Inn. I am certainly open to visiting any one of the Gulf Islands, but can anyone recommend a peaceful setting near the water for us to stay? (weasel: tripadvisor had numerous recent negative comments on Poet's Cove, which makes me a little gun shy about that place.)

Daydreamer: I think the plan now is to land in Seattle and rent the car, drive to Vancouver and start our trip there, per weasel's suggestion. Then ferry over to Tsawwassen to Mayne and then boomerang back to Tsawwassen and then to Nanaimo (and drive to Tofino).

Any comment on how crowded it will be in these places during the Victoria Day long weekend?
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:05 PM
  #11
 
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Hi I recommend getting reservations for the ferries because the May long weekend is busy. You always need reservations for a car on the gulf Island ferries. Mayne Island is never "busy" It is a small Island, has some great artisans, Potters painters ect. I actually like Mayne for a weekend trip. It is a great Island for cycling. Because it is small there isn't as much to see and do. Saltspring is larger and a bit busier but the Islands are very laid back and a much slower pace than the mainland. I personally feel that the Gulf Islands and Tofino are very different. Tofino being on the west coast of Vancouver Island it is much more wild. The ocean is rougher the forest is denser. Walking though the temperate rainforest always leaves me in awe. This being said I would visit both. Tofino may be wet and cold at the end of May. You can never predict what the weather will do and our weathermen are notorious for being wrong. Just take rain gear and you'll be fine. The Gulf Islands are generally drier and can be about 5 degrees warmer or more. When we stay on Mayne or Pender we usually stay at friends places so I'm not much help on accommodation but my friends have a nice place at poets cove.
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Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:54 PM
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The Oceanwood is a lovely inn. However, our experience was so jarring we really felt it was important to not patronize the place ever again and to tell folks when asked about it what we knew.

Mayne is really pretty limited a place. I think there might be one other place besides the dining room at Oceanwood to eat and it's ok but nothing fancy. We like to explore as well but found few places on the island to hike. If you have your heart set on Mayne, I'd suggest you limit yourself to two days max.
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 01:06 AM
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Coffeeaddict, do you know,
as I too might squeeze in a little Gulf Island visit prior to heading to Vanc Island...
can you go straight from them to Nanaimo vs. going back to Tsawassen?

Also, somewhere I read that the drive from Swartz Bay up to Nanaimo isn't a bad one at all (almost a positive)
so...you may want to skip the journey back to Ts just to bounce back to Nanaimo.

Might instead take Mayne to Swartz Bay & then drive up to Tofino.
Time estimates?
I think I saw something like 5 hrs or so, but a search on other threads would quickly answer that question.

Enjoy!
Oh...and I agree w/others...reserve ferries WHENEVER you can. (only allowed on some runs) It makes life so much easier. You may think it a hassle to be 'locked in' vs. playing things by ear, but...you can always not show for it & just lose the small deposit.

On the other hand, if your timing works okay & you have the reservation, it's smooth sailing onto the boat. (no long waits)
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 01:09 AM
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I think we probably had 2 nights on Mayne. Others comments about limiting time...what you could do is simply arrive late afternoon. Stay your 3 nights which is essentially 2 full days there. And, then, if you love it...stay later into that day.
If you feel you've done all you want, simply take off early on the 3rd day.

If you've never been to a Gulf Island & it's your first time, 'island time' will probably be sinking in w/its slower pace...in which case,
you may be in no rush for anything anymore!
(Life run less by a schedule or agenda)
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 01:15 AM
  #15
 
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weasel...
thanks so much for the further information & addressing my questions on this thread too.

Appreciate it!

What's your favorite time to visit these areas, btw? You mentioned May being sort of rainy still, perhaps?
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Apr 3rd, 2006, 04:58 PM
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Like PamSF, I had such a negative experience at Oceanwood Country Inn (in 2001) that I too have never been back. It's too bad, because room, food and view were all excellent. It was also great value. But the single incident was so -- jarring -- I feel obliged to provide PamSF with some back-up on the negative side of the review panel. (No one wants to risk appearing to be one of the cranky critics who blight less erudite message boards!)

It stemmed from a simple misunderstanding of the application of their no-smoking policy. It was clear from all signage and in-room publications that smoking was forbidden in the main house. Fair enough. I'm not a cigarette smoker in any case; I just enjoy the occasional cigar. However, at Oceanwood, apart from the main house, there is a separate annex. It mostly houses gardening and sporting equipment but then, at least, it also contained an indoor games room.

All instructional resources were silent on the application of the no-smoking policy to the games room. However, given the presence within of a loaded pipe rack, the late hour, the chill in the October air and the lack of objection from the only other people in the room (my wife and the couple who were with us) I assumed it wouldn't be out of order to smoke a cigar after dinner.

So I did. And, as I puffed contentedly away, Jonathan Chilvers walked in. He said two words: "That's disgusting". Then he left.

Had there been any place on Mayne Island to move to at that time of night, I would have moved, immediately, whatever the cost. Because even if cigar smoking is disgusting -- an opinion I understand perfectly – I, a guest, was misled by cues which suggested I was, in fact, in a designed smoking area. And, even if I was wrong – which I was -- I was wrong in the “honest mistake” sense of being wrong. I certainly didn’t set out to abuse Mr. Chilvers' professional hospitality, and I certainly wasn’t a morally deserving target of such scorn and humiliation. That point was made to Mr. Chilvers rather more diplomatically than I could possibly have the next morning by the Kiwi member of the couple with whom we had been dining. Because I was getting angry by that point. And, because I was aware (from the colleague who had referred me to Oceanwood in the first place) that Mr. Chilvers’ wife had died relatively recently, I thought a charitable explanation for his appalling distemper might be re-channelled grief and decided not to risk losing my temper with an unhappy and lonely man. In any event, Mr. Chilvers volunteered no further comment on the misunderstanding, and that was the end of our brief association.

Now I read from PamSf’s post that Mr. Chilvers makes jokes about beating his wife.

What a jerk.
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Apr 4th, 2006, 12:29 PM
  #17
 
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Unless you have already made reservations, I'm sure that you can find accomodations that are less expensive than Wickaninnish Inn.

My only negative comment would be that the kitchen seems to pay more attention to presentation on the plate than to the temperature of the food when delivered.

Just about anywhere else along that stretch of beach will provide the same experience.
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Apr 4th, 2006, 08:39 PM
  #18
 
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Hi daydreamer, The gulf Islands may be nice weather wise the end of May but I prefer late june july aug and early sept. because youre chances of good weather are better. For the long beach area Late july and aug are my favorites. I spent the 2nd week in Aug camping at long beach a few years ago and had pure blue skies all week. Most times we go we get mixed weather. It has a special feel in the fog and rain, But I have to say the warm sunshine was a nice change. The breeze off the ocean really cools things down. 5 miles inland you may be sweltering but on the beach you could be chilly.
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Apr 5th, 2006, 03:55 AM
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Thanks again, 'weasel'!
Appreciate that info.
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