Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Gulf Islands

Vancouver Island, the largest North American island in the Pacific, is a recreational paradise. It stretches 280 miles (450 km) in a northwesterly direction and is divided into two distinct areas. The rugged west coast, cut by deep fjords and piled high by mountains, is home to busy fishing and logging communities. It’s a spectacular place to visit and unwind. The east coast is a peaceful paradise, rich with timber, farmlands, fishing streams, beaches, villages and the capital city, Victoria.

The Gulf Islands lie between the mainland and Vancouver Island and offer peace and serenity. Enjoy the quiet valleys, mountain scenery, sparkling lakes and breathtaking vistas, as well as local fairs, markets and quaint village shops.

Captain Vancouver first discovered the beauty of Vancouver Island in 1778 as a crewman with Captain Cook. You can discover it, too. Explore the wild and beautiful coastline, rugged mountains and magnificent forests.

British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, is situated on the south end of Vancouver Island. A city of flowers, you will find streets lined with blossoming trees in the springtime and magnificent hanging baskets in the summer. Visit the famous British Columbia Museum, the provincial legislature or Craigdarroch Castle. Take a walk through Chinatown or browse through some of the city s finest antique shops.

Driving north from Victoria to Nanaimo, the traveller will pass through such delightful communities as Duncan, Chemainus and Ladysmith all offering wonderful island hospitality.  The harbour city of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island's second largest city, is a sea oriented community on the east coast. Incorporated in 1874, this third oldest city in British Columbia has many well preserved historic buildings and sites. Year round harbour cruises will take you to see the incredible sealife in the area.

On Vancouver Island the ocean is never too far away and campers will delight in the beautiful beaches to be found on both coastlines. Parksville, on the east coast, is the beginning of the Oceanside Tourism route. At low tide, the water recedes hundreds of yards, leaving the sand exposed for beachcombing. Qualicum Beach, a marvellous place for sun tanning, swimming and exploring, offers a variety of activities for all ages.

Travel on up through Lighthouse Country to the Comox Valley. Here the scenery changes and the lofty mountains covered in dense forest slope to the sea. Courtenay is a busy city that supports a large farming community as well as logging and fishing industries. Enjoy the many delightful boutiques in town and visit the Courtenay Museum in the world’s largest vertical log cabin. Comox, just a few miles east of Courtenay, is another thriving community. Visit the dazzling air show held bi annually at the Canadian Air Force base, then travel on through lush farmlands to Campbell River, a fisherman's dream.

The central part of the Island is heavily treed, mountainous and dotted with large lakes. Enjoy hiking, canoeing, swimming and fishing in Strathcona Provincial Park. Travel west to the village of Gold River, the spelunking capital of Canada. Take a trip on the M.V. Uchuck III, a converted mine sweeper that sails regularly through the scenic waterways of Kyuquot and Nootka Sound.  In the summer months enjoy visiting Friendly Cove, the site of an ancient Indian Village where Captain Cook first made contact with the West Coast Indians in 1778. Further up the coast are Sayward, Port McNeill and Port Hardy, where fishing is a favourite sport. Travel northeast to Cape Scott Provincial Park, located on the northern most tip of Vancouver Island.

On the west coast of Vancouver Island, which includes Ucluelet and Tofino, everything focuses on the ocean: fishing, whale watching, nature cruises and miles of white sand. Hike the beaches, headlands and woodland trails of Long Beach; experience the constant rhythm of the rolling surf. Explore pathways that lead from the beach, through the rain forest to secret coves and beach caves. Buy fresh seafood from the local fishermen or visit Hot Springs Cove, where you can swim in natural hot pools.

In Port Alberni, rise early and sail on the M.V. Lady Rose down the fjord like Alberni Inlet. Watch eagles soar and marvel at the scenery. If hiking is your pastime, you will enjoy the many mountain trails. Take the path through the forest at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Park and see the 800 year old Douglas firs or watch the eagles soar around Gabriola Cliffs.

Whatever your style of camping, entertainment or recreational pursuit, we know you will enjoy it on Vancouver Island and The Gulf Islands.

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