Vancouver Island Itinerary

Jan 28th, 2004, 02:41 PM
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Vancouver Island Itinerary

My husband and I will visit Vancouver Island in August and are looking for approximate itinerary suggestions. We have bits and pieces, but want to put the whole trip together. The two things we know for sure is that we would like to experience Victoria and also plan to go whale watching with Stubbs at Telegraph Cove. We also love to hike, bike, etc. We even love diving and have heard that V.I. is a great place. Can we do it all in a week or so? Lastly, I have heard about Sooke Harbor House. Can we stay there as a base for Victoria?
aubreyw is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 06:30 PM
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Can't help you with the entire itinerary, but you can definitely use Sooke Harbor House as a base for Victoria. I'm thinking it's about a 45-minute drive from the city. Make sure to eat at SHH -- the food is fabulous! A must-see is Butchart Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in the world -- and I've seen Hampton Court, Versaille, Kew Gardens, etc. Plan to spend at least half a day there so as to enjoy tea or catch a free concert on the lush lawn.
laurafromtexas is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 12:24 AM
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Are you going all the way to Telegraph Cove just to go whale watching? I don't know that Sooke would be my first choice if I planned to spend most of my time in Victoria and up the east coast of the island, although people seem to like Sooke Harbour House. If you're doing this by car, you will be doing a lot of driving.
April is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 06:17 AM
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I'd agree with April about Sooke Harbour House. Sooke is about 40 minutes from Victoria, along a winding road (my sweetie says it makes him slightly carsick, although it's never affected me that way). The hotel itself is wonderful and probably worth a trip for dinner, but staying there will put you pretty far away from everything else including highway access to the rest of the island.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 03:50 PM
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You will find about 40 boats making whale watching trips out of Victoria.
Garfield is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 08:03 PM
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As Garfield says if you want to see the most harassed marine mammals in BC then take a Whale Watching trip out of Victoria-you're guaranteed a zoo every time .
If you want to see the richest 'Inside' marine region in BC then drive up to Telegraph Cove.
Just south of Sayward is the greatest honey farm-you'll see the sign-do stop it's ambrosial stuff.
Diving is best in winter-the water is clearest less plankton then-but try just a short drive and an hour's boat ride north of Telegraph Cove.
If diving doesn't work out a kayaking trip out of Tofino or Telegraph Cove is a good way to get close to nature-even if just for a day.Kayaking companies are endemic on VI- a quick search will bring up all kinds of options.
The fly in the ointment IMO is Victoria-a minor tourist trap that's worth missing anytime (unless you collect them).
Too many stores with signs that say 'Olde' this and 'Olde' that-give it a miss.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 11:56 PM
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I'm not sure what you're saying Sam. Is it that there are fewer boats chasing after whales in Telegraph Cove?
April is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 06:16 AM
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I hate to see Victoria dismissed as a "minor tourist trap." It's quite true that the downtown area gets a little cutesy in spots, but it's a very pleasant city despite all the "ye olde" stuff. My favourite bookstore is there (Munro's) and I like walking through Bastion Square, which has lots of people selling art and jewellery and things like that, in the summer. There's also a great restaurant in Bastion Square - Rebar Modern Food. I wouldn't be too put off by all the souvenir shops. They're easily ignored.
Meesthare is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 11:20 AM
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"Is it that there are fewer boats chasing after whales in Telegraph Cove?"
Yes definitely-Orcas in the Southern Gulf Islands are under siege from watchers.The ugly evidence is there for all to see daily.

One person's 'cutesy' is another person's tacky-IMO the line was crossed long ago in Victoria.
If someone is primarily interested in the outdoors then Victoria has little to offer.

Sam_Salmon is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 05:13 PM
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Yes, Sam, I have seen that around Victoria but didn't know what was going on up-island.
April is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 01:14 PM
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Aubrey, if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, you can travel the logging roads in northern Vancouver Island. We picked up a map at the Visitor Center in Port Alice and spent a whole day back roading it. Port Alice is also a good site for whale watching either from shore or in a small aluminum boat complete with an outboard motor and a local guide that you can hire down at the wharf. Unfortunately, Telegraph Cove used to be more remote than it is today as a large condo development has been added in the last two or three years. I would suggest staying at Twa Kwa Luten Lodge on Quadra Island, a short ferry ride from Campbell River if you would like to get away from the crowded tourist towns on the lower half of the island. It was listed on the BC website two years ago and offers lodge or cabin accommodations right on the Strait of Georgia. Enjoy your time on VI!
Retired_teacher is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 02:42 PM
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See this link

for info on a Whale Watching company charged in Court over violations-serious stuff.

Retired_Teacher has a great idea about back road travel-I've driven a 2 wheel the back way from Port Renfrew-north of Sooke-over to Cowichan Lake-an easy drive.A person is then close to the pleasures of the Valley-B&B's and Wineries.

Some other handy Island links

Sam_Salmon is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 05:16 PM
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I agree with you about the tacky shops on Govt st. Unfortunately they crowded out real stores through exorbitant rents.

When I moved here in '82 there was a real outdoor huntin fishin clothing store called Spencers.

It has been replaced by several stores selling stuffed meeses and ball caps.

I used to think that one day I would go, but now that it has turned into mammal terorism, I probably will not.

As for outdoors stuff, I think that the tidepools at Botanical beach are the most under rated attraction.
icithecat is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 11:59 AM
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topping re a query on the US forum.
Meesthare is offline  
Feb 13th, 2004, 08:56 PM
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Vancouver Island is very large, and a week won't touch all it offers. Places I highly recommend include Uquelet/Tofino on the west coast for fabulous, wild beaches; taking the M.V. Lady Rose down the Port Alberni Inlet to Sechart Lodge in the Broken Group, and kayaking (gorgeous islands and islets) ( ; and visiting almost any of the Gulf Islands (off the east coast). I'd probably stay a full day in Victoria, and then head north up the Island, but that's me. Anyway, have a great holiday. Cheers, Linda
BowenLinda is offline  
Feb 15th, 2004, 08:50 AM
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I agree with previous posters who recommend that you do not try to see Victoria while staying at the Sooke Harbor House. The route goes through several small suburbs with many stop and go lights and lots of traffic and traffic jams. Stay right in downtown Victoria at one of the many hotels or B and B's so you are in walking distance of everything. Even though there are more than enough ouristy shops along Government street, Victoria is definitely worth visiting because it is beautiful on the harbour front area with the Empress Hotel and the parliament building right there along with all the gorgeous gardens and flowers. Also, many varied wonderful restaurants within walking distance.

Sooke Harbor House is very pretty and interesting and has a great location right on the water. It is very expensive but probably worth it.

Someone else mentioned Tofino. We went there on our last trip and we loved it there. It takes about 6 hours to drive there from Victoria and the drive is beautiful once you get into the mountainous area. You may not have time to go there on this trip, but definitely keep it in mind if you like hiking, etc. The Pacific Rim National Park is all along this coastal area with lots of woods, beaches and hikes. Try to stay at the Wickininish Inn (sorry about the spelling) since it is located right on the ocean amongst large rocks, etc. All rooms have a balcony overlooking the ocean! Wonderful place and experience. And a great restaurant also. I know sound like I work for the place, but I don't. We just really loved it there.

Have Fun!!

gopack is offline  
Feb 15th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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Ginny, do you remember what room is the best at the Wickaninnish Inn? Thanks.
KVD is offline  
Mar 10th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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Regarding whale watching on Vancouver Island.
I agree with the other posters that Killer Whales in the Victoria area are highly stressed.
Stubbs Island out of Telegraph Cove is a very good operation. Another provider that I highly recommend [more than Stubbs Island in fact] is Mackay Whale Watching, out of Port McNeill. Their website is They are a very professional family run company but also very friendly and helpful, and with a strong conservation ethic. Their boat is the fastest and best in the area. Besides killer whales, and the wonderful scenery, one might also see harbor seals, stellar sea lions, minke and humpback whales on their cruises. Killer Whales, however, are the stars of the show.
You will want to spend a couple of nights in the Telegraph Cove area. I suggest the Hidden Cove Lodge, between Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove. A lovely spot with a fine restaurant. Another attraction not to be missed in that area is the U'Mista Cultural Centre at Alert Bay, a 30 minute scheduled ferry ride from Port McNeill. The Centre offers a fascinating insight into the local aboriginal traditions and a world-class collection of masks created by the local first nations people.


gannetmusic is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 04:13 PM
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Vancouver Island is our favorite place to get away and some day I hope to get a place for a vacation home. We camp and fish out of Port Alice every August and it helps to know a gentleman that lives in the town that goes out with us. We've become fast friends. My wife and I have stayed at the Wikkininish and had their best room on the bottom floor in the left part of the resort. It was a wonderful visit and the dining room is hard to beat. This April we plan to stay at the Sooke Harbor House and in researching things to do in Sooke, I found this forum. Usually we stay at the Hotel Grand Pacific and do things around Victoria but wanted to get out of the city this time and experience something different. We'll still go into town to eat at Pescatori's but will try and do a little touring around the Sooke area. We do love the Government St. area and really don't mind the tourist stuff. If you stay in Victoria be sure to try breakfast or tea at the James Bay Restaurant on Menses behind the Parliament building. You won't be sorry. It is the only place I can find kippers. We look forward to our visit and by the looks of their web site, we won't be disappointed. I'll let give a review when we get back.
Mod12 is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 06:51 PM
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My wife and I spent three nights at the Sooke Harbour House and had a wonderful time. We had the Seal Room, #16, if you look it up on their web site, and it was very nice. It was quite comparable to one of the rooms we had at the Wikkinisnish several years ago. We hot tubbed every morning and the steam shower was special, too. We ate dinner in the hotel each night and the food was wonderful. One of the things I like is that every night they have something different and the staff claims not to know what they are serving until dinner time. They offer copies of the menu so you can take them home to share with family and friends. We had a wine paired dinner the last night and the waiter wrote down all the wines so we could locate them at a wine shop later. I will say that the wine is a bit pricey by the glass and if I had it to do over, would order a bottle. The forth night on the Island we stayed at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria and did a bit of shopping in the "tacky" shops on Government Street. One of the shops had a sale going on for their Spode china and we were able to get four of our soup bowls for $24 Can. We even stayed for the last ferry to Port Angeles, on Sunday, because we hated to leave. I highly recommend the Sooke Harbour House and we are looking forward to visiting again this fall. BTW, there is so much to do around town and the vicinity that you will never be bored. There is salmon fishing, whale watching, art shops, tea houses, and nature hikes everyplace. I'm even lined up for a little fly fishing, next time we go.
Mod12 is offline  

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