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British Columbia

Vancouver Island Holidays

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VANCOUVER ISLAND? PLAIN SAILING.

Wild Vancouver Island puts the ‘great’ in the great outdoors. It might look small on a map but, covering an area bigger than Wales, this dramatic isle packs a lot into its borders. The photogenic interior is a mishmash of soaring mountains and tranquil lakes, while the rugged coastline is home to sandy beaches and ancient forests. Whether you’re planning a hiking adventure or a wildlife-watching trip, a holiday to Vancouver Island will never disappoint.

Just 70 miles west of Vancouver, this place is easily accessible. There are regular ferries from the mainland to Victoria, which lies at the island’s southeastern tip. As the provincial capital of British Columbia, this city is crammed with fascinating sites – so it’s a great starting point for your trip. Elsewhere, the sheltered east coast serves up sprawling beaches and quaint towns, like Ladysmith and Parksville. On the opposite side, the wilder west coast is all about hiking, surfing and whale-watching.

You’ll find a range of activities on offer across Vancouver Island. History buffs will love Victoria’s cultural landmarks and museums, while powdery stretches like Long Beach and Qualicum Beach are ideal for some downtime. Nature-lovers will enjoy discovering the heart of the island, where you can swim in glass-like lakes and walk through lush forest. On the west coast, you can learn to surf in Tofino or hike the trails of Pacific Rim National Park. Take a boat trip in search of orcas and grey whales. And, throughout Vancouver Island, you’ll have the chance to spot black bears, sea otters and bald eagles. This place really does have it all.

To make the most of your time away, we’d recommend hiring a car. The roads are straightforward and very scenic, so you can explore at your own pace while enjoying the views. Afterwards, why not spend a few days in bustling Vancouver? Or, if you want to see even more of Canada, you could even go on a road trip to Whistler or the Rockies. Tempted? Speak to our Travel Specialists to start planning your Vancouver Island holiday.

Things to do

Wildlife

Victoria

Best time to go

Things to do on Vancouver Island

You’ll never be short of things to do during your trip to Vancouver Island. Outdoor enthusiasts, in particular, will be in their element. On the west coast, you can explore Pacific Rim National Park, famous for its age-old rainforest and dramatic coastline. The challenging Wild Pacific Trail stretches for 45 miles, but the Wild Pacific Trail makes a fantastic – and much shorter – alternative. Port Renfrew also has a number of day hikes, which lead to pretty areas like Botany Bay.

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You’ll find lots of water-based activities, too. Catch a wave in the popular surfing hub of Tofino, or go kayaking at Long Beach. On the calmer east coast, meanwhile, Parksville’s beaches are ideal for swimming and paddle-boarding. If you’re hiring a car, why not drive inland to Cameron Lake or Sproat Lake? With crystal-clear waters and fir-lined shores, these beauty spots are ideal for wild swimming.

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Wildlife on Victoria Island

Vancouver Island majors in wildlife. The waters surrounding the isle are home to seals, sea otters and a variety of whales. Black bears shuffle through the forests. And, if you look above the mountains, you’ll see soaring bald eagles, easily recognised by their white head.

Your wildlife-watching opportunities begin before you even reach Vancouver Island. It’s common to see dolphins and orcas from the ferry, as you sail over from the mainland. Don’t worry if you don’t spot any, though, as whale-watching trips are also available from Victoria.

Show More
Show Less

But, when it comes to wildlife, Tofino takes the crown. Brushed by Clayoquot Sound, this tucked-away westerly town is where you’re most likely to see orcas, grey whales and humpbacks. And, between April and October, you’re practically guaranteed to see black bears in these parts. Take a boat trip at low tide to watch the bears overturning large rocks in search of crabs.

Show More
Show Less

Victoria

Amid Vancouver Island’s impressive wilderness, Victoria offers a dash of culture. British Columbia’s capital is teeming with grand architecture and must-see sites, so it’s worth spending some time here during your Vancouver Island holiday.

Go for a stroll around the picturesque Inner Harbour and watch the boats bobbing in the water. The harbour is overlooked by the famous Fairmont Express – where you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea – and the Parliament Buildings. Why not take a tour of these stately rooms? Or, to find out more about BC’s history, visit the Royal British Columbia Museum.

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Show Less

You can see First Nations’ totem poles in Thunderbird Park, or admire the Craigdarroch Castle’s ornate architecture. A 20-minute drive from the city, Butchart Gardens should also be on your list. Filled with exotic blooms and leafy pathways, it’s a lovely place to while away an afternoon. And, during summer, there are live music performances every evening.

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Show Less

Best time to visit Vancouver Island

May to September is the best time to visit Vancouver Island, when the days are generally dry and warm. Temperatures hover in the high teens during May, and rise to around 22°C in the height of summer. And, if the weather alone isn’t enough to convince you, this is also the best time of year to see bears and whales.

Show More
Show Less

It can be quite busy during July and August, so getting around might take a little longer than normal. If you’re keen to avoid the crowds, we’d recommend booking your Vancouver Island trip for May, June or September. In May and June, you’re also likely to see bear cubs.

Generally, winter here is cold and wet. Rain is frequent between November and January, so this time of year is best avoided.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do on Vancouver Island

You’ll never be short of things to do during your trip to Vancouver Island. Outdoor enthusiasts, in particular, will be in their element. On the west coast, you can explore Pacific Rim National Park, famous for its age-old rainforest and dramatic coastline. The challenging Wild Pacific Trail stretches for 45 miles, but the Wild Pacific Trail makes a fantastic – and much shorter – alternative. Port Renfrew also has a number of day hikes, which lead to pretty areas like Botany Bay.

Show More
Show Less

You’ll find lots of water-based activities, too. Catch a wave in the popular surfing hub of Tofino, or go kayaking at Long Beach. On the calmer east coast, meanwhile, Parksville’s beaches are ideal for swimming and paddle-boarding. If you’re hiring a car, why not drive inland to Cameron Lake or Sproat Lake? With crystal-clear waters and fir-lined shores, these beauty spots are ideal for wild swimming.

Show More
Show Less

Wildlife

Wildlife on Victoria Island

Vancouver Island majors in wildlife. The waters surrounding the isle are home to seals, sea otters and a variety of whales. Black bears shuffle through the forests. And, if you look above the mountains, you’ll see soaring bald eagles, easily recognised by their white head.

Your wildlife-watching opportunities begin before you even reach Vancouver Island. It’s common to see dolphins and orcas from the ferry, as you sail over from the mainland. Don’t worry if you don’t spot any, though, as whale-watching trips are also available from Victoria.

Show More
Show Less

But, when it comes to wildlife, Tofino takes the crown. Brushed by Clayoquot Sound, this tucked-away westerly town is where you’re most likely to see orcas, grey whales and humpbacks. And, between April and October, you’re practically guaranteed to see black bears in these parts. Take a boat trip at low tide to watch the bears overturning large rocks in search of crabs.

Show More
Show Less

Victoria

Victoria

Amid Vancouver Island’s impressive wilderness, Victoria offers a dash of culture. British Columbia’s capital is teeming with grand architecture and must-see sites, so it’s worth spending some time here during your Vancouver Island holiday.

Go for a stroll around the picturesque Inner Harbour and watch the boats bobbing in the water. The harbour is overlooked by the famous Fairmont Express – where you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea – and the Parliament Buildings. Why not take a tour of these stately rooms? Or, to find out more about BC’s history, visit the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Show More
Show Less

You can see First Nations’ totem poles in Thunderbird Park, or admire the Craigdarroch Castle’s ornate architecture. A 20-minute drive from the city, Butchart Gardens should also be on your list. Filled with exotic blooms and leafy pathways, it’s a lovely place to while away an afternoon. And, during summer, there are live music performances every evening.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Vancouver Island

May to September is the best time to visit Vancouver Island, when the days are generally dry and warm. Temperatures hover in the high teens during May, and rise to around 22°C in the height of summer. And, if the weather alone isn’t enough to convince you, this is also the best time of year to see bears and whales.

Show More
Show Less

It can be quite busy during July and August, so getting around might take a little longer than normal. If you’re keen to avoid the crowds, we’d recommend booking your Vancouver Island trip for May, June or September. In May and June, you’re also likely to see bear cubs.

Generally, winter here is cold and wet. Rain is frequent between November and January, so this time of year is best avoided.

Show More
Show Less

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Knowledge

Between them, our travel advisors can boast almost 800 years of holiday expertise.

Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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