Vancouver Island is an island just off Canada’s Pacific Coast in British Columbia, far from the big city life, and skyscrapers; by the Strait of Georgia. It is 450 km (288 mi) long and up to 75 km (47 mi) expansive; with a glorious terrain of Emerald woodlands, alpine mountains, flower-filled fields, pristine ice-cold rivers and lakes, and crystal clear coastline thumped by the Pacific Ocean waves. The island is a paradise for outdoor pursuits enthusiasts, and it is one of the few places in the world where you can play golf and go skiing on the same day.
There are mountains down the centre of the island, the Vancouver Island Ranges, dividing it into the rugged and wet west coast and the drier east coast with a more rolling landscape. The highest point on the island is the Golden Hinde at 2,195 m (7,200 ft), lying within the Strathcona Provincial Park, and there are a few glaciers here, the largest of which is the Comox Glacier. The west coast is rocky and mountainous characterised by fjords, bays and inlets, while the interior has many rivers and lakes. Of which Kennedy Lake, northeast of Ucluelet, is the largest.
At the southern tip of the Island is the elegant capital, Victoria, with its historic parliament, narrow streets dotted with cafes, pubs and colourful gardens, and boats floating lazily in the Sparkling harbour. There is an abundance of sights to experience here, including the world-famous Butchart Botanical Gardens, with over a million plants. The gardens are divided into themed areas, such as Japanese or Italian, and each is a beautiful garden in its own right.
Activities available in this big outdoors include skiing, white-water rafting, caving, mountain biking, surfing, sailing, diving and snorkelling, bungy jumping and many other exciting pursuits. There are deep-sea fishing trips for halibut, salmon and chinook, whale-watching excursions or Kayaking in the inlets of the Pacific Rim National Park. Trekking and hiking through the wilderness are also popular here and can be done on horse or on foot along the trails in the fir-lined woods. Wildlife viewing is becoming more and more popular, with black bears high on the wishlist, and ecotours b boats can offer sightings of bald eagles, sea lions and sea otters.
When to visit
April to November
How to visit
By ferry from the mainland, or by plane to Victoria International Airport.
- Whale watching – visit between March and May when 21,000 whales, including the grey whale, migrate from California to Alaska.
- Butchart Botanical Gardens – is among the best and the most imaginatively planted in the world. Come on a summer evening to attend an outdoor concert while enjoying the gardens illuminated by coloured lights.
- The fishing village of Tofino – located on Clayoquot Sound, the village is a centre for ecotourism, with lovely sandy beaches to the south and opportunities for whale-watching and surfing.
- Trekking on horseback across this magnificent landscape.
You should know
It is also known as ‘The Island’.