Vancouver Island: The Ultimate To-Do List for the Outdoor Lover
Looking for the trip of a lifetime?
Vancouver Island is located on the West Coast of Canada, in the province of British Columbia. With a population of just under 760 000, it is one of the largest islands in Western North America. Compared to the rest of Canada, Vancouver Island has one of the mildest climates, with temperatures in the winter ranging from 0ºC - 12ºC to 20-35ºC in the summer months. As such, it is an extremely sought-after spot to live, as outdoor enthusiasts can stay active throughout the year. Read on for the ultimate list of outdoor-activities to do on Vancouver Island, 365 days of the year.
With so many hiking spots ranging from moderate to difficult, it's hard to know where to start. If you're in Victoria, a leisurely walk along the stunning Dallas Road could occupy you for hours, while Mt. Work, Mt. Douglas, and Mt. Finlayson will provide you with vistas highlighting the island's endless forests, mountains, and bays. Heading up island, try Port Alberni's Mount Arrowsmith, the Juan de Fuca Trail, or Mt. Albert Edward for overnight challenges. If you've gone west to the Pacific Rim, Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail is a must-do, and Radar Hill will give you a taste of adventure, especially if you find the wrecked 1945 RCAF bomber plane. For the real adventurer, try your hand at the Golden Hinde - Vancouver Island's highest peak.
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Vancouver Island is a kayaker's paradise, because of the thousands of islands, bays, gulfs, and straits available for you to explore. For the beginner, the gulf islands around Vancouver Island are a great place to start, as you wind through forested inlets, stopping to look at otters, sea lions, and whales. In Ucluelet, try Barkley Sound for a true West Coast kayaking experience amongst hundreds of small islands. And of course, for the real kayaking lover, Broughton Archipalego is an essential adventure, as BC's largest provincial marine park, hosting orca whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, as well as the possibility of bear and cougar sightings.
A lot of people don't know that the waters surrounding BC's capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island, host the most diverse array of marine wildlife in the world. From orcas, to gray whales, to humpbacks, to Pacific white-sided dolphins, to minke whales, to sea otters and sea lions, there is something to see throughout the year. Whale watching is one of Vancouver Island's most popular activities, but even mid-July, you'll want to make sure you're dressed to the nines - the temperature drops about 10 degrees once you're on the water.
There are two types of adventurers out there: the intense ones... and the not so intense ones. Luckily, Vancouver Island has a number of opportunities for both kinds of adventurer. In Victoria, you can rent a stand-up paddle board along the Selkirk waterway and paddle right into the inner harbour. If you're looking to get out of the city, there are a number of companies that will drive their paddle boards to your lake of choice. For the intense adventurer, paddle surfing is most popular along the West Coast, up to the Pacific Rim in Tofino or Ucluelet. Whichever form you choose, paddle boarding is a great workout, and an exciting way of taking in Vancouver Island's incredible outdoors.
As Canada's surf capital, Tofino is the obvious choice for surf spots on the island. Cox Bay, Long Beach, and Chesterman Beach are the most popular destinations, but Ucluelet has a few good surf spots as well. Lesser known spots include Sombrio beach and Jordan River. Wherever you go, you can bet you'll be greeted with that West Coast mist, fresh air, and a wicked ride.
Skiing / Snowboarding / Snowshoeing
If you're looking to ski, snowboard, or snowshoe, Mt. Washington Alpine Resort is the place to go - with downhill ski trails, cross-country and snowhoeing paths, and a number of cozy wood cabin lodges, you'll find yourself wanting to spend at least a couple of days venturing into what Vancouver Islanders consider "the cold." Mt. Washington is your ideal spot for any snow-related activity, as in peak season it will get upwards of 40 feet of snow. Mt. Cain is another option if you're travelling to the north of the island, and looking for a far less populated experience.