Vancouver Island stretches from Swartz Bay in the East to Port
Renfrew in the west, and makes a great vacation destination! It is the largest
island on the western side of North America. The climate is wonderfully
mild, with Victoria boasting the mildest winters in Canada. The landscape
in the region is extremely diverse from Douglas Fir forests to dry exposed
conditions on high rocky elevations in Gary Oak forests.
The Coast Salish First Nations peoples inhabited the island for thousands
of years, until the 19th century when British explorers chartered the island.
In 1843 the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post, and
within 15 years the gold rush caused the population to skyrocket; Victoria
became a booming city. The island continues to have a sizable First Nations
Today, there are all types of activities both inland and on the coast.
For the outdoor types, go hiking, swimming, mountain biking, boating, fishing,
and much more. Head to the coast and try sea kayaking, whale watching,
and explore the caves. Take the kids horseback riding, zip lining, through
a corn maze, to a bug zoo and a butterfly garden! And of course there are
museums to visit, wine to taste, art galleries to browse, and spas to be
Along with the wildflowers that begin to bloom in February, the wildlife
in the area is astounding! Approximately 85 orcas live around the southern
tip of the island and Gulf
Islands. Killer whales and grey whales may also
be seen in the area. Whale watching is a must! Further inland you may spot
grizzly bears, black bears, deer, elk, mountain goats, cougars, and more.
It’s an excellent area for bird watching as well, particularly in
the provincial parks.
Victoria, Western Canada’s oldest city, boasts a picturesque inner
harbor, museums, galleries, and sculpted gardens. This city has a truly
British feel. Browse the Royal BC Museum, First Nations Gallery, the (Emily)
Carr house, and Canada’s oldest Chinatown. Butchart Gardens are just
outside the city, and one of the world’s premier show gardens.
Further east you’ll find Sidney, Canada’s only booktown. It’s
a gorgeous gateway to the BC gulf islands, and also homes beloved public
gardens. The picture perfect inlets and nearby islands are worth a trip.
West of Victoria you’ll come across Port Renfrew, the jewel of the
west coast. It’s best known for the historic West Coast hiking trail
and Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Just 5 km away you’ll discover the
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park with the famous Botancial Beach. At low tide
walk across the flat sand stone and discover aquatic gemstones hiding in
tide pools. If you’re feeling brave, climb across to the Devil’s
Punchbowl; a gallery of caves on the side of the coast, unreachable at
high tide. Between August and March keep an eye out for sea otters following