Welcome to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, sitting on Canada's west coast just above the 48th parallel. This is a land of lush forests and blue waters. Bays ringed by white sand beaches and flanked by rocky headlands are home to both calm waters and crashing rollers. Vancouver Island has a little something for everyone.
Once the staid haven for legions of lawn bowling retirees, Victoria has grown into a hipper West Coast fusion of recreational opportunity, gourmet food, first class accommodations, art and culture. From the time-honoured afternoon teatime to beautiful gardens, architecture and English style pubs, Victoria's traditions and charm are still plainly visible.
Whale watching trips are a top Island attraction, and expeditions leave from communities all around the Island. Orcas (killer whales), gray whales and humpback whales take centre stage, while dolphins, porpoises and a host of sea life play supporting roles. But you need to know the what's and where's for the best experience...
What is it about this small community of only several hundred residents that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year? Is it the dense, richly hued temperate rainforests covering steep slopes and rising into the mists? Or is it the rhythmic, soothing rollers hypnotically breaking against the beaches...
If you genuinely want to get away from it all for a true West Coast experience, along with stunning scenery and fresh air from thousands of kilometres of Pacific Ocean, Bamfield should be on your radar. One of the few remaining raised boardwalk communities on Vancouver Island, Bamfield lies in relatively unspoiled wilderness on a sheltered inlet in Barkley Sound, adjacent to Pacific Rim National Park.
The town of Chemainus is known worldwide by their moniker “the little town that did”. It is a fine example of an Island town reinventing itself in the face of grave economic challenges. The town now boasts over forty spectacular open-air murals and the Chemainus Theatre Festival which offers year-round entertainment from a professional cast and crew plus guest artists from all over North America.
The historic boardwalk town of Telegraph Cove sits at the gateway to the beautiful Broughton Archipelago and upper reaches of Johnstone Strait—an area renowned for a large population of orcas and a host of other wildlife. A North Island destination, Telegraph Cove provides a launch pad for kayakers, fishermen, boaters and day-trippers eager to see a pod of orcas or try their hand at salmon or halibut fishing.
Hiking the west coast of Vancouver Island always leaves me in awe of the spectacular setting and wishing I could share it with the younger members of the family. The Juan de Fuca Trail provides such an opportunity, and is a spectacular West Coast hiking and camping destination for either day hikes or multi-day expeditions.
For years, I had wanted to go to Meares Island to see the huge cedar and spruce trees around which so much controversy was swirling in the 1980’s. During a recent visit to Tofino, I finally had the opportunity to visit these ancient giants, some of which are 1500-2000 years old.
If you like wine and wine tasting you will love what Island wineries have to offer. From the pastoral Saanich Peninsula and Cowichan Valley to the beautiful Gulf Islands, the region is home to almost fifty commercial vineyards and wineries. Several distilleries thrown into the mix make it the largest wine producing region in B.C. behind the Okanagan.
Headed to Tofino? Make sure to add Hot Springs Cove to the itinerary. The remote pools lie in a unique and spectacular setting, cascading over a waterfall and into a series of natural pools in a large rock cleft leading directly to the ocean. The springs are located on Vancouver Island at the north end of spectacular Clayoquot Sound in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park.
Be sure to visit the spectacular Wild Pacific Trail that runs along the rugged coastline in Uclulet. The trail, suitable for all users, provides breathtaking views of the Pacific as it winds around a craggy, windswept shoreline.
What do all Those Wine Competition Medals Mean Anyway? We have all seen wineries proudly proclaim that their wines received a medal at this or that competition, and you will undoubtedly see this during tours of Vancouver Island wineries. While generally it means the wine is better than average, it is helpful to know the basics of wine judging and how medals and rankings are determined. It can also assist with awareness in your own wine sampling during your Vancouver Island wine tour.
The Cowichan Valley Trail is truly a gem amongst the easily accessible trails on Vancouver Island. One of the big draws of the Cowichan Valley Trail is the Kinsol Trestle that spans the Koksilah River several kilometres north of Lake Cowichan. The trail was on my bucket list, so when one of my riding buddies suggested we tour it with our cyclocross bikes, I was all in.
Thursday 08/25 10%
Mainly clear. Low 13C.
Tomorrow 08/26 0%
Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High near 25C. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 km/h.
Saturday 08/27 10%
Partly cloudy. High 19C. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 km/h.
Sunday 08/28 50%
Chance of Rain
Cloudy with showers. High 17C. Winds SE at 10 to 15 km/h. Chance of rain 50%.