Vancouver Island planning

Old Sep 9th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Vancouver Island planning

If we have three to four days (three nights to spend) between leaving Victoria and arriving in Vancouver, what would you suggest? We could have a car or not. I'm thinking maybe drive from Victoria to Tofino for two nights then spend a night in Nanaimo before taking the ferry to Vancouver. Or spend three nights in Tofino -- or something else? Any special suggestions? We're not looking to spend a lot of money and not looking for expensive resorts or lodges, just comfortable stays. And with my partner we won't be doing a lot of hiking or strenuous activity. More enjoying beautiful scenery, maybe some short boat trips, general relaxation.

This would be in early June.
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Old Sep 9th, 2008, 10:31 PM
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If you're going to go to Tofino (and you should, it's gorgeous), I'd spend all 3 nights there--there's no real reason to break up the trip back to Vancouver by staying in Nanaimo IMO, and more time in Tofino is always better!

My favorite place to stay there is the Middle Beach Lodge--the rooms in the original lodge are less expensive, simple and small but nice, and the lodge has a great feel to it.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 04:31 PM
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Hello!

I am a native and lifelong resident of this area and you have a great adventure ahead of you!

You could fly into/out of Vancouver - the airport is quite close to Tsawwassen, which is the ferry terminal for Victoria. Rent a car and return it to Vancouver, drive 30 minutes, take the ferry to Vancouver (90 minutes ride - reservations recommended!), and spend 2 days/1 night in Victoria. Many lovely hotels on the Inner Harbour in Victoria. I would recommend driving northwest from Victoria towards Sooke, Ucluelet and Tofino. You can easily spend 2-3 days in Ucluelet and Tofino. I recommend Jamie's Whaling Station for whale-watching. Middle Beach Lodge is wonderful, Wickannish Inn is world-class hotel and spa and Sooke Harbour House is a world-class restaurant and accommodations.

You can drive from Tofino to Nanaimo in a few hours and take the ferry from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen in a 2 hour ride. Reservations are recommended for the ferry. There is no need to stay in Nanaimo to make it back to Vancouver.

Have a great day!
Julia
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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We definitely need to fly in and out of Seattle (FF miles and just part of a longer itinerary). Planning on spending one night in Seattle then taking the boat (the Clipper?) up to Victoria.

Will rent a car in Victoria and probably now drop off in Nanaimo when we take the Pacific Coach to Vancouver. The Pacific Coach takes us "door to door" so to speak rather than worrying about our own transportation at either end with just the ferry, and appears to be a bargain to boot.

After Vancouver will take the bus to Seattle (easier border crossing and also cheaper than driving and having drop off fees) for a couple nights before flying on to San Francisco.

limazuzu, I'm curious though what you mean about driving northwest from Victoria to Sooke, Ucluelet, and Tofino. We actually will stay in Sooke, but don't we have to backtrack all the way around to Ucluelet and Tofino? Are you suggesting we can drive northwest from Sooke to Ucluelet and Tofino?

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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 08:38 AM
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Patrick, there is a "road" that goes from Sooke west to Port Renfrew, and from there you can theoretically cut across to Shawnigan Lake which is about halfway to Nanaimo. This is absolutely NOT recommended - the road is mostly an old logging road and not in great condition. Some tourists have been convinced for one reason or another to take this road and I've never heard from anybody that they would consider doing it again. It takes much longer than the regular highway and it's rough on the car - and rougher on the passengers.

Perhaps limazulu is thinking of the fact that if you're coming from downtown Victoria, there is an exit for Sooke on the highway. Yes, it's northwest of Victoria but it's not really on your way to Tofino/Ucluelet.

One other cautionary note: the Clipper, especially at that time of year, is notorious for making people seasick. It's a quick and efficient way to get from Seattle to downtown Victoria, but people make jokes about it all the time - if you're prone to seasickness it's not a great idea. There are other options.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 08:57 AM
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Hey, on the Norweigian Hurtigruten going around the northern coast of Norway in rough seas, it seemed everyone on the boat got sick -- even much of the crew. I did get some bruises trying to walk down the hallway -- it was that rough, but didn't get seasick. So I won't worry.

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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 09:02 AM
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Well, okay, then!
I'd love to take the Clipper, but unfortunately my sweetie barfs at the mere thought.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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"there is a "road" that goes from Sooke west to Port Renfrew, and from there you can theoretically cut across to Shawnigan Lake which is about halfway to Nanaimo. This is absolutely NOT recommended - the road is mostly an old logging road and not in great condition. Some tourists have been convinced for one reason or another to take this road and I've never heard from anybody that they would consider doing it again"

Are you talking about Highway 14 Sooke to Port Renfrew or the road from Port Renfrew to the Cowichan Valley?

Because 'the back road' is almost 100% paved now has been for a few years a safe and pleasurable drive anytime-Highway 14 of course is constantly being upgraded.

Port Renfrew is seeing something of a boom and the 'back road' from ECVI has really helped.

Not sure where Shawnigan Lake comes into this at all.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:28 AM
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I'm not sure why Sooke comes into this at all.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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Maybe because that's where I'm staying for a few days? And that's where I'll be driving from to get to Tofino.

Also, the discussion went that way when limazulu said, "I would recommend driving northwest from Victoria towards Sooke, Ucluelet and Tofino." But I still haven't made a lot of "sense" of that statement.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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If you wanted to make a long day of it and see a lot of the sights then driving Highway 14 to Port Renfrew-stopping at little visited places like Sombrio Beach and Botanical Beach then the back road to the lovely Cowichan Valley and onto Duncan is a great idea.

Not a fast route though and not just because of winding roads but because there's so much to see so if it's just the shortest drive head you want back around the bottom of the Island and up ECVI.

No need to make hard/fast decisions now though the beaches will always be there.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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Sorry, I got confused there. So are you just passing through Victoria?
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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Will be spending several days staying in Sooke and visiting Victoria. Then have several days to spend before going to Vancouver for a week.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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I live in Sooke. Highway 14 (we live on it!) to Port Renfrew is paved, yes, but twisty and not especially scenic once you get past Jordan River. I have heard RECENTLY from people who have taken the road across to Cowichan Valley (yes, you're right - not Shawnigan) that it's a horrible road. It's lovely to stop along the way and visit Sombrio, etc. but if you're trying to get to Tofino, IMHO that ain't the way to go.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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"I have heard RECENTLY from people who have taken the road across to Cowichan Valley....that it's a horrible road."

It was a fine drive in June this year.

I have no idea what your friends are talking about and I doubt they do either! b-(
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 05:08 PM
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Well, Sam, let's not get personal. I haven't done that drive myself, nor have I claimed to. I'm reporting what I heard, and from more than one source, and if you had a better experience than my sources did on that road, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It still isn't something I would recommend. Nor can I say that the stretch of road between Jordan River and Port Renfrew is a pleasant drive, and that's something I have done, more than once.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 08:02 PM
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FYI-the stretch of Highway 14 you speak of is being upgraded as we post-this too I know from personal experience.

Also I checked today with some friends from the city here who vacationed in the Cowichan Valley in late August and who drove over to Port Renfrew-they report a trouble free journey on a good road-the scenery isn't much as it's all been cut over but so has most of southern Vancouver Island.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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I'm not sure what all this discussion is about. I think it started because of a recommendation to go from Victoria to Tofino by going to the northwest. That would seemingly be taking 14 to Renfrew and then going north to Lake Cowichan, but then what? On one map I see a gravel "restricted road" from the northwest end of Lake Cowichan up to Port Alberni. But surely that's not what anyone is talking about here is it? What are we talking about Renfrew and Lake Cowichon for anyway if it isn't on a route to get from Victoria (or Sooke) to Tofino.

This now seems to be some sort of contest about what those roads are like, but I think it's all a minor point since they still don't provide a northwestern route to Tofino, do they?
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 09:09 PM
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Not directly. Really what this is about is a road that cuts eastward across Vancouver Island from Port Renfrew, west of Sooke, and eventually joins you back up with the main highway. From the main highway you eventually take another good highway west to Tofino and Ucluelet.

The alternative is to drive from Sooke back down Highway 14 to the road (Veterans Memorial Parkway) that takes you across to Highway 1. That's about a half-hour trip, and that's how we unadventurous folks do it.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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I think this thread took a weird turn because you are staying in a place not terribly convenient to visiting Victoria or going up island. We drove to Sooke last weekend. It took 40 minutes from the outer edge of Victoria - probably nearly an hour from the harbour. Since you're staying there, you might want to check out the Country Cupboard in Shirley past Sooke for their wonderful desserts. It has changed hands and will likely have a new name soon.

French Beach has very easy access for non-hikers. The coastline at Point No Point is a little more interesting. Neither holds a candle to the Long Beach area though, in my opinion.
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