by Rebecca Moroney, Eamon & Bec
When Eamon and I set out in our home-sweet-home wheels this summer, we thought we’d head north to Alaska or south to the States. That is until we arrived in beautiful British Columbia and realized that all we could ever hope for in a summer adventure was right here in our own Canadian backyard! So, instead of rushing through the must-do activities and heading out, we’ve decided to switch on “explorer mode” to get the most out of our time in BC.
We recently got back to the mainland after a few remarkable weeks on Vancouver Island; a place that checks all the boxes: rugged mountains (tick), lush rainforest (tick) and stunning ocean vistas (tick). Combined with endless outdoor recreation options and extensive wildlife watching opportunities (whales and bears, anyone?), it quickly topped the charts in our books.
Take a few weeks or a couple of days here, either way, you’ll definitely have a unique adventure. If you’re not convinced already, here are the top 9 must-see highlights from our time on the Vancouver Island.
Explore Victoria’s Waterfront
Victoria is British Columbia’s capital city and acts as the gateway to the rest of Vancouver Island. A great city escape without excessive travel? Count us in. To soak in the new city, we love going for a run (or a light stroll) and recommend you start along Victoria’s waterfront.
Visit Cathedral Grove
An old-growth forest with huge Douglas firs and walking trails, Cathedral Grove is a beautiful afternoon pit stop. The biggest trees in the Grove are about 800 years old and measure 75m in height and 9m in circumference!
Hike to the Hole in the Wall
Not an official park, just a unique hole in the wall, this site is well worth the short but somewhat steep hike. Find the trail right across from the Coombs Country Candy Store before the Visitor’s Center as you come into Port Alberni.
Play Disc Golf in Bowen Park
While in Nanaimo, we spotted a beautiful 18-hole course at Bowen Park. Get ready to swap your clubs for some frisbees – it’s time to play some disc golf! It’s a great way to spend the day outdoors with a small barrier to entry (you can grab a disc for approximately $20 and course is free to the public).
Relax in Hot Springs Cove
A must-see! From Tofino, you’ll need to find a tour operator to head 27 nautical miles up the coast to the Hot Springs Cove. Keep your eyes peeled on the boat ride for whales and bears – we were lucky enough to spot both.
Enjoy the Goats at Beacon Hill
Not only is Beacon Hill a park worthy of spending the day (there are 200 acres of ponds, lakes, and wildlife), but the adorable march of the goats (at 10:10am and 4:10pm) makes it a must-do in our books. Admission to the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm is by donation.
Cowichan River Float
The island’s best-kept secret: Cowichan River Tubing. Grab a tube from a local shop (or visit one of the rafting shops in town to rent for the day) to enjoy the crystal-clear water and pristine scenery. The medium length float will take you on an epic 2.5-hour journey!
Stop for Lunch in Ucluelet
En route to Tofino, it’s easy to skip the tiny, quaint town of Ucluelet (pronounced yew-kloo-let or just “Ukee” as locals call it). Ukee has all that wild west-coast charm without the bustling crowds. Pick up a coffee or tea from Zoe’s bakery and head to Long Beach for a picnic and to spot the surfers!
Rent a Scooter on Salt Spring Island
Ferry over to Salt Spring Island for a scooter adventure. Renting these two-wheelers can give you the freedom to take in the many beaches, oceanside roads and tourist destinations of the island at your own pace.