Vancouver Island Holidays
Nestled along Canada's west coast is Vancouver Island, a paradise of tranquil islands, pristine coastlines and emerald forests where the ever-present Pacific Ocean shapes the scenery. In addition to British Columbia's vibrant capital city, Victoria, you'll find colourful quirky communities, a wide range of attractions and outdoor adventure.
Victoria is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson Bay Company, Victoria's British ancestry is apparent everywhere, from double-decker buses and formal gardens, to tearooms and proper pubs. The city is home to many historic buildings and some of the most fascinating museums in Western Canada, including the Royal BC Museum – the perfect place to learn about the province's colourful heritage, and Craigdarroch Castle, a stunning example of Victorian architecture.
Victoria's Inner Harbour, backed by the stately Fairmont Empress Hotel, buzzes with yachts, float planes, water taxis and small cruise ships, all just steps from the historic streets. During the summer, the harbour is the focus for festivals and also serves as a departure point for whale watching tours.
Breathtaking Butchart Gardens is another Victoria attraction not to be missed. Fifty five acres of gardens delight year round, from thousands of spring bulbs; to fragrant roses and perennial borders in summer; striking russet, gold and red foliage in autumn; to dainty snowdrops and subtle beautiful shrubs in winter.
The Cowichan Valley region is ripe for discovery with excellent wine and culinary offerings thanks to the mild, almost Mediterranean, climate. There’s also a buzzing arts scene and outdoor activities aplenty.
In central Vancouver Island don’t miss Nanaimo, which has a picturesque harbour and downtown streets lined with heritage storefronts, bars, art galleries, shops and fabulous dining. Northern Vancouver Island is the place for getting lost in nature: kayaking with orcas, grizzly watching, salmon fishing at Campbell River, hiking seaside routes and exploring First Nations culture from Port Hardy.
For all things wild, make your way to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It’s popular for kayaking expeditions among sheltered islets where inner waters abound with marine life and rocky shores are lined with caves, trees and beaches. Stay in charming Tofino, rated as one of the world’s top surf towns with inviting restaurants, galleries, shops and easy access to the beaches and trails. Ucluelet is your go to place for whale and bear watching, fishing, surfing, hiking, biking, zip lining and ocean kayaking, while majestically located Port Alberni is also noted for hiking, fishing, mountain biking and water activities.
- Historic Victoria
- Butchart Gardens
- Majestic coastlines
- Picturesque towns
- Outdoor activities
- Colourful heritage
- Wildlife viewing