Guide to Vancouver Island
August 6, 2019
by Raya Jordan
I was lucky enough to grow up on this West Coast Island and explore many amazing places that the island has to offer. First up on the list of places to go also happens to be the provincial capital.
Victoria is located on the southern end of the island. This ever growing city has endless activities to explore from hiking, shopping, museums, parks, pubs, nightlife, whale watching and you can even hop on the Clipper and head down to Seattle. When you are downtown, the city may have you thinking you are in Europe, with the Empress Hotel and double decker tour buses.
Buchart Gardens is a popular garden to visit in the summer or winter. During the winter months around Christmas, the gardens are lit up with thousands of lights and tell the story of the 12 days of Christmas so you can walk through to find the Partridge in a Pear tree, golden rings or maids a milking. In the summer, the gardens are in full bloom.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a favourite summer spot to check out, if you are visiting during the summer months. The Wharf contains local gift shops, 33 floating homes, live music, and you better be hungry for some fish n’ chips because the options are plentiful. The Wharf is only a 10 minute walk from the Odgen Point Cruise Terminal. You can easily get from the Wharf to Downtown by the harbour taxi.
Government Street in the downtown core is full of shopping and dining. You can find anything from Irish pubs, to Burger King, sushi, smoothies and ice cream, along with many stores.
Feeling up for some shopping? You can shop at any of the souvenir stores and get your Canadian gifts. My favourite store, is new to Victoria. This is a Canadian owned company with other locations across Canada including, Whistler, Banff, Quebec, Halifax and Charlottetown. Stop in and say hi to Hermie!
The Parliament building is located a couple of minutes walk from downtown Victoria beside the Royal BC Museum. They offer free guided tours of the building and learn about the history and how the legislative assembly works. At night be sure to take a walk by to see all the building lit up.
A short walk from the Parliament Building is the museum, Fairmont Empress Hotel and Beacon Hill Park. The park has a petting zoo, peacocks roaming around, ponds, rose garden, walking paths, and totem poles.
The Royal BC Museum has many exhibits including BC history, and exhibits that change frequently, so be sure to check their website to see what they are showing during your visit. There is also an IMAX theatre located within the museum.
The Victoria Chinatown is the second oldest in Canada and only a short walk from downtown. Enjoy some traditional Chinese food, bubble tea, Chinese medicine shops and gift stores full of trinkets. Take a stroll down Fan Tan Alley which is the narrowest street in Canada, has a variety of shops, including homemade ice cream.
Tofino is on the west coast of the island located by the Pacific Rim National Park. The small town is well known for surfing, at the long sandy beaches of Chesterman or the popular Long Beach all year round. On the north end of Long Beach, you can see incinerator rock. There are lots of hiking around the area like Lone Cone hike and even a quick walk up at Radar Hill to check out the view. Be sure to wander around downtown into the sweet little local stores and cafes. Ucuelet is another small town you should check out when you are out that way and check out the Wild Pacific trail, a 3km walking trail. On your way to to the West Coast of the island, don’t forget to stop at Coombs and see the goats on the roof!
The seaside town of Campbell River is about 3 hours north of Victoria and a must stop if you like hiking, fishing, whale watching,
The Pier is a popular summer spot to go get ice cream, go fishing or watching the cruise ships sail along after or before their journey through the inside passage. On Sundays during the summer, the Pier Street farmers market takes places where you can buy fresh vegetables, food products, jewelry and local crafts.
These 89 foot falls are located just outside of Campbell River. The walk to the suspension bridge is suitable for families and dogs with the easy hike being 4km. The suspension bridge was built in 2015 for the 75th anniversary for Elk Falls and it has quickly become a popular spot to visit while on the island. The water flows consistent all year but is stronger after a heavy rainfall in the springtime.
Quadra Island is only a 10 minute ferry ride from Campbell River. The island has lots to offer from hiking, beaches, a lighthouse, camping among much more.
Chinese Mountain is a well known hike on this island, and a must do for a beautiful view. The hike can take a few hours round trip, so be sure to pack lots of water, snacks and wear the correct footwear.
Rebecca Spit is a provincial park that encloses Drew Harbour, which is a popular spot for sailboats to anchor all year, and yachts in the summer. The spit has a campground with water, washrooms and hook up with great waterfront sites, and swim-able. Rebecca Spit holds some events throughout the year like May Day (an island favourite). Also don’t forget to check out the driftwood Sasquatch looking out onto the water. These driftwood creatures are hidden around Campbell River including a cougar, fox and racoon.
This is only a few things you can do on the island and there are endless activities to do whether you are visiting or living on the island.