VANCOUVER ISLAND is North America’s largest west coast island and has Canada’s mildest climate. The Island supports a wealth of wineries and organic farms; it’s also a top destination for outdoor pursuits, from surfing, kayaking, whale watching and fishing to hiking, mountain biking and skiing.
A vast network of parks and ecological reserves includes such world-renowned destinations as Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the west coast, Strathcona Provincial Park in the mountainous interior and Gulf Islands National Park Reserve off the east shore.
Dozens of smaller parks, including Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park with its warm swimming beach, and MacMillan Provincial Park, home to the ancient trees of Cathedral Grove, also shelter unique eco-systems and offer hiking, camping and kayaking.
Victoria, BC’s provincial capital and the Island’s largest city, is a mountain-framed seaside town of Edwardian architecture, lush gardens, a scenic waterfront, some of BC’s top museums and a thriving farm-to-fork dining scene.
An hour north of Victoria is the Cowichan Valley, where wineries, organic farms and artisanal food producers abound. Further north along the Island’s east coast is the Oceanside region, where long, sandy beaches and the seaside towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach are perfect for family vacations.
Next up, the Comox Valley is a great base for skiing and mountain biking at Mount Washington Alpine Resort and for exploring the wilderness trails of Strathcona Provincial Park, while Campbell River is a legendary saltwater fishing destination.
On the Island’s west coast, facing the open Pacific, the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet bracket the long, surf-tossed beaches and old-growth forests of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. In spring, whales migrate by the thousands along the coast here while summer brings surfers and hikers. In winter it’s the prime time for watching dramatic coastal storms.
From city breaks to beach holidays, from wine tours to outdoor adventure, Vancouver Island packs a lot of possibilities between its shores.
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