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.

Vancouver Island's second largest city is Nanaimo, known for its picturesque harbour and downtown streets lined with heritage storefronts, bars, art galleries, shops and fabulous dining. The city is also home to the Woodgrove Centre, the largest shopping centre on Vancouver Island, and there's natural beauty at every turn just outside the city with one of the longest shorelines in Canada and a forested mountain backdrop.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. Here, you can kayak among clusters of alluring islands, where inner waters abound with marine life and rocky shores are lined with caves, trees and beaches. Stay in Tofino, a charming coastal village which is rated as one of the top surf towns in the world and has wonderful culinary establishments, galleries, boutiques along with easy access to prime beaches and trails. Alternatively, adventure seekers should opt for either easy going Ucluelet, with whale watching, bear watching, fishing, surfing, hiking, biking, zip lining and ocean kayaking all on offer; or majestically located Port Alberni, where hiking, fishing, mountain biking and various water activities can be found.

Further north is Campbell River, known as the salmon capital of the world, it's another perfect destination for a holiday filled with outdoor activities. Port Hardy in the North Island area has a major ferry terminal linking the mainland and is the gateway to Northern Vancouver Island recreation.

    Why visit Vancouver Island?
  • Historic Victoria
  • Butchart Gardens
  • Majestic coastlines
  • Picturesque towns
  • Outdoor activities
  • Colourful heritage
  • Wildlife viewing


Travel Expert

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A collection of holidays across Canada from cosmopolitan cities, iconic National Parks, fascinating cruises and spectacular rail journeys. Also includes Alaska & the Yukon Territory.

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Where to stay in Vancouver Island

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Essential facts about Vancouver Island
Local Time

GMT -8 hours (British Columbia); GMT -7 hours (Alberta).

Currency

Canadian dollar

Travel information

There are no flights from the UK to Vancouver Island. From Vancouver, you can take a scenic ferry which takes around 90 minutes. Alternatively float planes take 35 minutes.

Best time to go

This region has a varied climate that allows for diverse activities whatever the season. In general, the weather is influenced by mountains and ocean, so mild along the south coast and more extreme as you move inland and north. Spring is prime wildlife viewing time on the island, while summer is a great season for hiking and exploring, autumn can bring storms to the west coast, while winter can bring snowfall to the mountains, but remains temperate in Victoria.