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- 05 Jun 2020, 3 nights
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Vancouver Island is a paradise for outdoor adventurers, boasting vast natural landscape and iconic wildlife. The 460km-long island off Canada’s Pacific Coast is home to the regal provincial capital, Victoria, as well as quaint fishing villages and vibrant creative communities. You can hike or bike in wilderness areas from snow-capped mountains and rugged coastlines to unspoiled beaches and pristine forest. Escape for a camping trip, fish in the “salmon capital of the world” or spot orcas and black bears before immersing yourself in one of the island’s cosmopolitan centres.
You can stay in a Vancouver Island hostel among the natural beauty of neighbouring Denman Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from the town of Buckley Bay. Embrace the alternative lifestyle in a farmhouse from 1912, decorated with rustic wooden furniture and hardwood floors. You can borrow a bike to explore the surrounding countryside or chill out in the garden with a coffee from the espresso bar. In the evening, try a home-cooked meal of organic produce in the adjoining bistro of your hostel in Vancouver Island.
Most visitors to Vancouver Island begin in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Victoria is a picturesque city at the southern end of the island with the mildest climate in Canada and grand Victorian buildings reflecting its British colonial past. On the west coast, Tofino is a surf town surrounded by the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region. You'll find lush rainforest on one side and rolling waves on the other, with surfing and paddle boarding schools to take you out on the water.
Visit the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to take in the island’s spectacular landscape. With 500 square kilometres of spellbinding coastline and rainforest, you can do everything from birdwatching to hiking here. From Tofino you can join tours to observe some of the island’s abundant wildlife, including frolicking whales and crab-crunching black bears. Head to Butchart Gardens, 20km north of Victoria, to discover a meticulously manicured display of blooms housed in a former quarry.
You can explore Central Victoria on foot and bike or hire a car for other parts of Vancouver Island, although there are local buses too. There are ferries connecting Victoria with other island towns. Regular ferries leave Vancouver city in the US for Victoria (95 minutes) or you can arrive by sea from cities including Seattle and Port Angeles, Washington. You can also reach the island by plane, flying into Victoria International Airport from Vancouver and other parts of Canada or Seattle. Buses connect the airport to Victoria city centre, taking roughly an hour.