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curiousgeo Apr 9th, 2014 07:53 PM

Scenic Drives on Vancouver Island
Looking at a possible trip to Vancouver in the Fall with maybe a 2 night stay on Vancouver Island. Thought it would be interesting to drive around and stay the first night somewhere, then drive back and spend the second night in Victoria.

So I'm looking for suggestions on a scenic drive from the ferry at Swartz Bay, perhaps of 3 to 4 hours. Any suggestions of places and routes that would fit this schedule? We've been to Victoria and to Butchart Gardens before, but that is it as far as Vancouver Island for us.

Thanks in advance for your help.

sludick Apr 11th, 2014 02:55 PM

Just to bring this to the top - if you will be in Vancouver, you might think about visiting the Sunshine Coast instead of Vancouver Island.

That will take you a couple of short ferry rides up the mainland, give you some beautiful scenery and a unique adventure (think "Gumboot Nation").

We did that once in the fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since you only have a couple of nights and want to take a scenic drive out of Vancouver, that's what I would recommend. If you are interested, I can give you some more detail to go on.

Or, for Vancouver Island, consider taking the Horseshoe Bay ferry over to Nanaimo. From there you could drive across to Tofino/Ucluelet, although that is more like 4 hours and I really wouldn't want to do it for a single night.

A couple of links:

curiousgeo Apr 12th, 2014 01:59 PM

Thank you sludick, hadn't thought of the Sunshine Coast previously, but will look into it and give it some consideration.

The ferry to Horseshoe Bay suggestion also cuts some drive time rather than Swartz Bay for Tofino. Any thoughts on the Qualicum/Parksville area as a possible destination? Appreciate your input.

live42day Apr 12th, 2014 05:57 PM

I am not sure what time in the Fall, however September and early October are beautiful on the island. A nice drive, not too far from Victoria, is the wine area, Maple Bay, Genoa Bay, and the outlying areas of Duncan.

If you do decide to take the ferry to Departure Bay in Nanaimo instead of Victoria and explore the mid section that includes Qualicum and Parksville. There are many nice parks and walks, Englishman River, Little Qualicum Falls and others.

This is the east coast of the island and the beaches are a lot calmer than the wild west coast, Tofino and Ucluelet. The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino is around 2 1/2 hours each way so a lot closer than from Victoria.

curiousgeo Apr 13th, 2014 12:09 PM

Thank you live42day, appreciate your input (love the name by the way!). We're a couple, mid 50's to early 60's, looking for an easy drive, to wander around small towns and villages, poking around shops, galleries and parks so the Qaulicum and Parksville area sounds ideal. You've given us some food for thought on the wine areas too.

sludick Apr 13th, 2014 03:03 PM

So, while you are exploring the Qualicum and Parksville areas, check out the Coombs Country Market and the goats that live on the roof. Great little shops, grocery food items, and lunch.

curiousgeo Apr 13th, 2014 05:35 PM

Goats on the roof, we absolutely must check this place out! The food items look good too, thank you.

live42day Apr 13th, 2014 06:32 PM

Coombs, thats where I live. Yes went by there today, April and it is already crazy busy. The actual market side is very good, great selection and prices, the new resteraunt at the back 'Cuckoos' is very good for lunch or dinner.

There are a number of little shops at the back which have some good stuff, and some with really crappy stuff too.
There are a few antique stores here in the area and one of the best Native art stores I have ever been in, just over the bridge from the Market. Very high end, but real Art, not the tourist native stuff.

Just past here, towards Port Alberni, about 20 minutes, is McMillan Park (Cathedral Grove) which offers a nice walk through old growth forest.
Qualicum is a charming little seaside town with a boardwalk along the water. Parksville has a seaside walk as well.

Nanaimo even has a nice boardwalk along the waterfront with some cute little stores.

AndrewDavid Apr 20th, 2014 09:53 PM

while i often go out for a day trip, the drive out to port renfrew @the end of the west coast road is quite lovely about 2 hours from dt victoria probably the same from ferry terminal in sidney. main attractions include botanical beach prov park, w/ pot holes and great west coast scenery; tall ancient trees esp avatar grove. check tide tables for botanical beach; look for a low tide. check tall trees centre in port renfrew for directions to the giants. although we usually have a meal at the pub on the government pier , they do have rooms and there are a few b&b's as well. if you don't want to back track you can take the back road to lake cowichan and head back to the ferry via duncan and the malahat drive


ps often bears near entrance to botanical beach and along the west coast road esp after jordan river

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