Timing of Vancouver Island Vacation

Old Jan 3rd, 2001, 05:54 PM
Linda Clark
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Timing of Vancouver Island Vacation

My husband and I are planning our 2001 vacation and have agreed on V.I....but when? We would like to avoid the peak tourist season, yet at the same time be there to see Orcas, gray and/or humpbacks, eagles, elk, etc. We had tentatively thought of the first week of June, but would September be better, for example? I am gathering lots of information about whale watching tours from both sides of the island, accommodations (B&Bs preferred),even and "old" style train ride along the coast! Our thought was to spend a minimal amount of time in Victoria and neither of us are city lovers.....we live in too congested an area now (near Philadelphia) and love to get away "from it all". Any suggestions for timing or MUST-SEEs would be appreciated.

Old Jan 3rd, 2001, 08:06 PM
Carl Z
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September it is!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2001, 09:47 PM
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The weather is often better in September than June. Are you referring to the Pacific Wilderness Railway? Trains on the island, as far as I know, do not follow the coast - at least not so you can see much of it. The trips are not very scenic.

While in Victoria, do visit the museum before heading out of the city. It is not boring and it will give you a good overview of the area and its history. (Cross the street and wander through the Empress Hotel while you're there.) Then, if you have a vehicle, drive up Parksville/Qualicum Beach way and you'll probably want to go to the Tofino area for the spectacular scenery.

You might like some of the smaller islands as well. Some options are the gulf islands; Sidney Spit off of Sidney - good for a day hike, no vehicles; or Hornby Island (cross Denman Island to get there) - a pretty place with an interesting loop trail through Helliwell Provincial Park.
Old Jan 4th, 2001, 11:31 AM
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The line about spending a minimal amount of time in Victoria because you are not city people made me laugh. You are from Philadelphia? The 'city of Victoria' has 70,000 residents. Sound huge and overwhelming? Greater Victoria has 300,000 residents covering about 20 by 20 miles. How many people would you find in that much space at home? Having got that off my chest, Tofino is as away from it all as you can get and still have hot water. Population there is about 5,000. It is getting a bit touristy now compared to back when you could pitch a tent on the beach for free.
Old Jan 12th, 2001, 05:36 PM
Jeffrey Sonshine
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Our family took a trip there in August and it was the best trip we ever took. First of all the best salmon fishing in the world is there and the best time is in August over at Campbell River. We got to see a ton of Orca's by driving to Telegraph Cove and taking a tour boat. Take your binoculars and video camera. We stayed at a real rustic cool place called the Strathcona Park Lodge. We had a cabin for five on the lake. It was magnificent. Cheap price and it included terrific spa type cuisine.
Old Jan 14th, 2001, 10:58 AM
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Hi Linda - First of all, I thought Rand was a little patronizing but probably did not mean to be so. Victoria is really nice at any time of the year, I think, it depends on whether or not you are used to colder weather. If you want it warmer, Aug/Sept is best. The first week of June will have less tourist acitivity and probably better room rates as Cdn. schools don't close until the end of June. Even if you don't like cities (and I agree usually), Victoria is beautiful - stay near the harbour - it is great. Visit Sooke, if you can and you could consider renting a car and driving - V.I. is not that big but you must remember that only the main highways are great - the other highways are curving and narrow. I love Uculet/Tofino etc. Have fun and I hope this helps.
Old Jan 14th, 2001, 01:33 PM
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Hello Linda - Coincidentally, my husband and I lived in the Philadelphia area for several years (although we're now back in our home turf near Toronto). In 1996, while still living in PA, we vacationed on Vancouver Island. Timing was late August - I had made inquiries myself as to which might offer the best weather - June or August, and was advised to choose August. Weather was, in fact good most of our trip, tourists were around but not at their peak.

Spent just a few days in Victoria - like you, I'm not into a lot of "big city" time - but, as mentioned by others - Victoria has small city seaside charm, interesting shops, a famous Botanical Garden and other attractions nearby.

There is a much-written about B&B Inn about 1/2 hour from Victoria on the ocean in the village of Sooke - Sooke Harbour House. We did not stay there, but did have a marvelous dinner in their dining room one evening. Setting is really nice, and I've heard the rooms are super. Gets booked up months ahead though.

I particularly enjoyed the Tofino-Pacific Rim area (although weather there is more unpredictable). Lots of nature, outstanding wild coastal scenery, atmosphere, ocean-oriented activities, etc. We unfortunately didn't get on a whale-watching trip - most were booked up (if you've been researching these, you may already know to book well in advance). There are places to stay both right in the quaint and funky town of Tofino, and on some of the beautiful relatively undeveloped beaches nearby.

Hope you enjoy your trip and I would be interested in hearing about your special finds and favourite places - we're planning on going back in a couple of years ourselves.

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