Civilization meets raw yet accessible wilderness four seasons
a year on truly spectacular Vancouver Island. Like those fortunate enough to reside here on Canada’s far west coast, visitors are free to pick-and-choose between rewarding pleasures, healthy pursuits, sophisticated indulgence and exhilarating pastimes. No wonder readers of the world’s top travel magazines repeatedly give us the nod as one of the world’s most enjoyable island getaways (including a repeat #1 rating as top island in the U.S. and Canada in Travel + Leisure’s 2015 World’s Best Awards).
The refined side of our Island experience can be found in urban centres, small towns and quaint villages that radiate friendliness, charm and scenic wow. Relish the sensual delights of local food, wine and beer served in bistros and casually world-class restaurants. Enjoy music, theatre and a year-round festival calendar. Shop for Island-made arts, crafts and one-of-a-kind products. Stroll lush botanical gardens and manicured golf courses. Or spend quality time in museums, artist studios, community halls and no end of bustling co ee shops packed with locals happy to share their own Island tips and secrets with the inquisitive.
Yet it’s outdoors under nature’s big top that Vancouver Island really shines no matter the weather. Spend a weekend, week or longer immersed in our unspoilt landscape, and it’s easy to understand why fur-trader James Douglas declared the Island “a perfect Eden” when he arrived here in 1842. National Geographic clearly agrees: The magazine’s editors dedicated 10 percent of its summary of Canada’s top-50 places to the Island region by including To no, Victoria, the Gulf Islands, the Discovery Passage and the Great Bear Rainforest in its tally.
Ambling from one classy brewpub to the next in downtown Victoria (recently rated as one of the top-three friendliest cities in the world) can be de ned as an outdoor activity, of course. So can a driving tour of Island wineries. In fact, a quick dash from a parking lot to the warm, scented embrace of a resort or spa requires some brief exposure to the elements.
Rather than showcasing our creature comforts however, Tourism Vancouver Island’s Outdoor Guide is a breezy overview of the possibilities for fresh-air enthusiasts keen to lose themselves in nature by hiking, paddling, surfing, biking, fishing and actively exploring this largely unspoilt western edge of the New World.
Islanders reside here for many good lifestyle reasons, yet one of the foremost is easy access to a trove of idyllic getaway spots. It takes just eight hours to drive Vancouver Island stem to stern on smooth ribbons of tarmac. At every turn there are well-mapped and signed departure points into a natural environment that’s open 24/7 year-round. Coastal trails, seawalls, marinas and boat ramps tap into the Island’s 3,340 km (2,137 miles) of coastline. Or head inland to parks, lakes, river valleys, alpine meadows and mountain peaks – variously sweet and challenging, mild and wild.
Do your homework ahead of time by browsing our website. Or drop into a favourite bookstore or go online to browse a wide range of mapbooks and guidebooks focused on the Island region, some of them of general interest, others focused exclusively on shing, kayaking, cycling, beaches, vineyards, restaurants and farmgates.
When on the road, drop into any of 25 Visitor Centres dotted across the Island. Each is sta ed by enthusiastic, knowledgeable Vancouver Island experts eager to help you optimize your priceless holiday time. Full details on our green spaces can be found at the BC Parks website. For special deals and further information on our regions, activities and accommodations, check out Tourism Vancouver Island’s Vacation Guide, available at Visitor Centres or online at VancouverIsland.travel.
We’ve touched on the vast range of outdoor possibilities in these pages, yet the truth is that words simply can’t do the Vancouver Island region justice. Instead, our invitation is to get here and experience it in person. Our climate makes us a year-round destination: ripe with emerging life in the spring, pleasantly warm and dry in the summer, sweater-weather moderate in the fall, and cozily wet, dark and thrillingly stormy in the winter. As James Douglas noted back in the Victorian era and now readily con rmed by 760,000 residents and millions of annual visitors: Eden by any other name.