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Where to stay....Vancouver, Victoria or Tofino?

Where to stay....Vancouver, Victoria or Tofino?

Old Jan 4th, 2009, 05:02 PM
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Where to stay....Vancouver, Victoria or Tofino?

My family and I are planning a visit to Canada in July. We are starting our vacation in the Vancouver area and driving eastward to spend a week in the Canadian Rockies. We only have three, maybe four nights to spend in the Vancouver area and are primarily interested in seeing some beautiful scenery and doing a whale watching tour. The idea of driving along the coast and staying at a seaside resort area is much more appealing to us than staying in a city environment.

Initially I thought we would be spending all our time in the Vancouver/Victoria area, itself. But after reading so many posts here about Tofino, I think we might really regret not seeing this beautiful area. It seems there are also whale watching tours out of Tofino, as well as Victoria, though I am not sure which is the better location to see Orcas in July.

We are flying into Vancouver on July 25th from the east coast, so our first day in will be a long day. We have reservations at Patricia Lake Bungalows in Jasper, AB beginning the 29th of July. If necessary, we could probably delay that arrival until the 30th since I know the drive from Vancouver to Jasper will be a very long one. Any advice or suggestions you could give us will be much appreciated!
dmpalena is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 10:47 PM
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Sometimes TIME just dictates what you can do and see efficiently.

You can either have your Vancouver-area trip at a breakneck pace and go two nights in downtown Vancouver and two nights at Tofino juuuuuuuust to say you did it...

OR you can use your entire allotment of four nights IN the Vancouver area and get a doubly thorough sense of what some publications regard as hands down "the most livable city in North America".

Vancouver is just gorgeous, with water and mountains all around and you don't even have to go anywhere to reach them.

The downtown area is very diverse and you just couldn't go wrong in spending your entire time there.

The ferry ride to and fro would take up a significant chunk of your limited time in the area should you choose to go to Victoria or Tofino.

I don't know why anyone tries to bargain-up from Vancouver.

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Old Jan 5th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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I have to say I was not so impressed with Vancouver. A fine city, yes, but I much preferred Victoria and Tofino.

Because you have limited time, Tofino might be a bit too ambitious.

From Victoria, you can do a nice drive out to Sooke... and stop for lunch at the Sooke Harbour House (if not stay overnight.) I remember some great hiking in the area...

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Old Jan 5th, 2009, 02:13 PM
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well, we all have different opinions which is what make life interesting.
if i had 4 days, i would get to heck out of the city as soon as possible. the ferry ride over to victoria is really beautiful. the sooke area is suppose to be great although i haven't been there.
if time allows, i would get to tofino but you do need three nights there to make it worthwhile. we left victoria about 8 a.m. - had a casual drive with stops and arrived in tofino about 2:00.
if you want to bypass victoria, you can take a ferry north of vancouver to nanaimo and then drive to tofino from there.
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Old Jan 5th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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Are you planning to drive all the way from the Vancouver area to Jasper in one day? Most people break it into a 2 day trip. So that could take away a day from the amount of time you have.

I love Tofino but as someone else said, unless you have at least 3 nights there, it's really too long of a trip to be worth it.

You'll have a better chance of seeing orcas from the Victoria area in any event (the whale watching from Tofino in July would be more for any gray whales that have remained in the area following the spring migration). So Sooke might be a good alternative to going all the way to Tofino as has been suggested--maybe 1 night in Vancouver to see the highlights and then 2 nights out in Sooke.
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Old Jan 5th, 2009, 09:05 PM
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I agree with the first response--you'd be going at a breakneck pace to make it out to Tofino and back in that timeframe. With your planned trip east to the Rockies, a trip out west first to Vancouver Island would mean a lot of driving, then a ferry, then more driving.

Vancouver is really a stunning city--the most picturesque in North America, IMHO. Take a stroll, jog, or bikeride through Stanley Park to get a real sense of the place. Tofino is a destination unto itself and, if you like your trip, that will give you all the more reason to go back!
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 09:20 PM
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Here's another vote against Tofino. I've been there but it is a long drive across Vancouver Island and you really do not have the time. Take time to discover Vancouver the city and perhaps take a day trip to Victoria. That is really all you have time for.
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Old Jan 8th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Thanks everyone for your kind replies. Yes, it would seem I was getting a bit ambitious trying to fit Tofino into this itinerary. I do think, though, that we would still like to plan a day-trip over to Victoria, especially since previous posts I've read seem to indicate that the whale watching tours that leave from Victoria give you more time with the whales and less time traveling to get to where they are. It also seems like a beautiful area to explore for the day. We will be renting a car when we get to Vancouver, so would it be a good idea to take it with us on the ferry for the day to Victoria so we can explore that area more extensively?

As far as our plans to travel eastward to the Rockies, right now we are planning to break that trip into two days with a stop somewhere along the way to Jasper. Our choices en route seem to be either heading north through Whistler onto Kamloops, then continue either northwardly into Jasper via Yellowhead Highway or eastwardly via Route 1 then up the Icefields into Jasper. Or, leaving Vancouver and heading east through Hope, then choosing either north to Kamloops or east by way of Route 3 to Kelowna then onto Revelstoke area.

If we are going to be spending two days basically driving to Jasper, we want them to be as scenic as possible. I don't mind a long drive at all if there are beautiful things to stop and see along the way. Can anyone give us advice as to which route would be the most scenic from Vancouver to Jasper? We are anxious to drive the Icefields and understand that the views can be different either direction so we originally planned to go that route. But I'm sure British Columbia has many gorgeous areas to sightsee and we are open to any suggestions you can offer for our trip.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to answer my post. Your advice, as always, is invaluable!
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Old Jan 8th, 2009, 12:25 PM
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You don't say if you will be returning to Vancouver after your stay in the Rockies, but I'll assume that you are.

With two days, I don't think that you really have time to take Hwy 3 and up through the Okanagan Valley and then continue to Jasper.

There are two routes which I would suggest, and if you are returning, you can take both of them.

For the first, follow Hwy 1 (TransCanada) to Hope and then take the Coquihalla (Hwy 5)to Kamloops. Continue on the Trans-Canada east to Revelstoke and stay the night there. The second day, continue on to Lake Louise and then north to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. A variant, which would allow you to see something of the Okanagan would be to take 97C (Connector) from Merritt to Kelowna and then follow 97 north to Sicamous and on to Revelstoke.

The second route would be through Whistler and Lillooet to Kamloops where you would stay overnight. Then follow Hwy 5 (Yellowhead) to Jasper. The portion of the route between Whistler and Cache Creek while scenic, is not nearly as good a road as the others, and you should not expect to make as good time.

My preference would be the first, as you will go through three of the great mountain National Parks (Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho) and the scenery is magnificent. They should not be missed.

For a day trip to Victoria which includes a whale watching tour, I'm not sure that you need a car, unless you want to visit Butchart Gardens. Otherwise, you'll have more than enought to fill your time downtown. I'd be inclined to take the bus/ferry combination which will take you downtown to downtown.

I agree with the others that you simply don't have time to visit Tofino on this trip.
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Old Jan 9th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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Laverendrye, we are actually flying out of Calgary so we won't have to do any backtracking. Thank you for suggesting some routes we can take from Vancouver. Your first option does sound like the most scenic route, but I'm curious what different views will we see if we take Route 5 versus 97C (or vice versa). What is the "Okanagan" and if we took that route, would we still get the opportunity to drive through Glacier and Yoho National Parks? I'd always choose to sacrifice time in order to see some awesome scenery!!
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Old Jan 9th, 2009, 03:21 PM
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I should have explained about Hwy 97C (the Connector). You actually take Hwy 5 from Hope as far as Merritt. Then instead of continuing to Kamloops, you cross over to Kelowna on the Connector.

I don't think that you would be sacrificing any scenery by not taking the Coquihalla all the way to Kamloops, and by travelling through Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley you will get to see some quite different landscapes.

The Okanagan is a fertile valley filled with orchards and vineyards and is one of Canada's major wine-producing areas. Although naturally arid, it is well irrigated from the various lakes that line it. By following this route, you will rejoin the Trans-Canada at Sicamous on Shuswap Lake, from where it is about an hour's drive to Revelstoke. (You should stop in Sicamous for a look at the lake before continuing east). You won't miss any of the mountain parks.

As you will be leaving from Calgary and not returning to Vancouver I would strongly recommend this route even though you will be backtracking on the Icefields Parkway. That, as you have noted, is not a disadvantage at all as it is one of the most scenic highways in the world and the views in each direction are indeed different.
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