After serving breakfast at a local B&B for four years, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with tourists from all over the world, and I’ve heard one comment over and over again:
“Oh, I wish we had more time here! We didn’t get a chance to see…”
Vancouver Island offers an amazing variety of sights and activities, and a little pre-trip research will help make sure you don’t miss out on finding your favourite spot on the island.
Start Your Trip with the Cultural and Historic Attractions in Victoria
- Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park is reminiscent of those seen in London and other major European cities. It is full of ponds, flowers, and paths for walking or running.
- Explore Craigdarroch Castle and to learn more about the Dunsmuir family and Victoria’s history as a British trading post.
- Hike East Sooke Park to see ancient petroglyphs carved at Alldridge Point. Then see artifacts from thousands of years of Vancouver Island First Nations history in the Royal British Columbia Museum in downtown Victoria.
- Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site on the Esquimalt harbour is home to century-old military artifacts, and a genuineold-fashioned lighthouse.
This is a small list of the many cultural and historical sites in the Victoria area. You can take scheduled bus and foot tours along designated routes.When planning your own itinerary, check in at the local visitor centre to get more information on recommended sites and their operating hours. Be aware that some sites are only open seasonally, or offer limited hours during the winter months.
Unique Transportation will Help You Have an Unforgettable Trip
Instead of staying in your car for the whole trip, consider working some other transportation options into your itinerary. Port Alberni’s Lady Rose Marine Services offers trips along the Alberni inlet on the MV Francis Barkley.You can spend the day on a round-trip tour of Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands, or skip the drive and take the boat to Ucluelet.
There are local float plane companies based out of many local communities. These water-based airlines offer service to nearby communities and outlying islands, as well as the Tofino & Ucluelet area. Most are also available for chartered sightseeing flights. Flying low over the clustered Gulf Islands or Desolation Sound is an unparalleled experience.
Water taxis are privately owned boat services that combine the best of ferries and charters. Available in most destinations around the island, they are a particularly lovely way to explore the towns scattered through the southern Gulf Islands at your own pace.In the northern communities, such as Campbell River and Port Hardy, water taxis give adventurous visitors access to remote hiking and camping locations. Of course in Tofino, water taxis service visitors looking to soak in the spectacular (and inaccessible) natural springs at Hot Spring Cove.
Have a Spectacular Outdoor Encounter with Island Wildlife Tours
Many of the remote island communities offer a variety of wildlife watching tours. Vancouver Island is of course known for its whale watching, but have you thought about the other animals indigenous to the area? Many companies out of Tofino and Uclulet offer bear sighting tours, giving you the chance to safely see black bears in their natural habitat. Bald eagles can also be a common sight – if you know where to look. If you’re on the island in the fall, many of the local fish hatcheries offer excellent viewing of the annual Pacific salmon run.
Get off the Beaten Track and Explore the Local Communities
Get a taste of the small-town experience in Zeballos. Once a boominggold rush mining town, the small community is reinventing itself as an outdoor recreation and ecotourism destination. The trip out isn’t for the faint of heart – the town is located on one of the island’s many logging roads.
If you’re looking for something a little less remote, book a few nights at the Damali Lavender Farm B&B. Wander through the fields of lavender, tour their winery, and check out the natural lavender products at the gift shop.
What other local attractions do you recommend? Comment below to share your favourite spot on the island.
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