Vancouver Island is part of British Columbia, Canada. As well as the island itself, it is also a region which includes the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. It is often referred to by the locals as simply 'The Island'. Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of North America at about 450km long and up to about 90km wide. It has a population of over 700,000 people, with a little less than half of those living in the Greater Victoria area.
- Vancouver Island Proper - the subject of the current guide.
- Southern Gulf Islands - Group of islands between Victoria and Nanaimo in the Strait Of Georgia.
- Northern Gulf Islands - Group of islands near Campbell River
- Victoria - The capital city of British Columbia that markets itself as a piece of England.
- Sidney - A relaxing city 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, 5 minutes from the Victoria International Airport, Quiet, on the Waterfront with quaint little shops. A tourist vacation and Retirement location with waterfront walkways and bicycle paths.
- Nanaimo - The second largest city, and largest port on Vancouver island.
- Port Alberni - Developed as a major forest industry town and a service town for the fishing industry, today it is a popular salmon fishing destination.
- Tofino - Ecotourism center on the beautiful (if wet) west coast of the island. The main attraction is Long Beach which is part of Pacific Rim National Park.
- Courtenay/Comox - The gateway to Mt Washington, Strathcona Provincial Park and some spectacular fishing. These two towns are a beautiful place to visit in summer and winter.
- Campbell River - A salmon fishing destination.
- Cowichan Bay - A pretty little sea-side village.
- Galiano Island
- Port Hardy - Small logging town on the North tip of the island, gateway to Cape Scott Provincial Park.
- Ucluelet - Small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, service center for the fishing industry.
- Duncan - Agricultural town between Victoria and Nanaimo, home of the world's largest hockey stick.
- Saanich - A major suburb of Victoria, and a significant agricultural center.
- Telegraph Cove - Voted one of the ten best "towns" in Canada to visit by travel writers (as published in Harrowsmith Magazine.
- Chemainus - 10 minutes north of Duncan; known for it's tourist attracting murals, plenty of tourist shops and a world-class playhouse.
- Ladysmith - 20 minutes south of Nanaimo, tourist town, many shops down main street. Heritage town with restored buildings and beautiful Transfer Beach. Known for its annual Festival of Lights during the third week in November. Also voted one of the top ten "towns" in Canada as published by Harrowsmith Magazine.
- Oceanside Region (Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Errington, Coombs and area - Vancouver Island's beach and golf destination also home to Cathedral Grove and Horne Lake Caves)
- Zeballos - a small village (pop.~235) on the northwest coast
- Sooke - a harbourside town located a 45 minute drive west of Victoria
The most common way to get to Vancouver Island is by BC Ferries. There is regular ferry service from Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Near Victoria), Tsawwassen to Duke Point (near Nanaimo) and Horseshoe Bay (Near Vancouver) to Departure Bay (in Nanaimo). These ferries generally run about every two hours with more frequent service on some of the routes in the summer.
The Victoria airport has flights from various locations in Canada. There are also flights from Vancouver to many of the towns and cities on the island. Floatplane facilities located both in the Victoria and Maple Bay.
Floatplanes operated by Harbour Air,Salt Spring Air fly frequently from-to downtown Vancouver, YVR and other destinations including the scenic Gulf Islands. Some of these float plane operators will also do tours of the city and nearby attractions starting at about $80-100 per person... a great way to see the island.
Direct flights to Comox on the east central coast of Vancouver Island are available from Calgary or Edmonton on Westjet. http://www.westjet.ca . There is also a connection to Comox from Vancouver on Pacific Coastal airline.
The easiest way to travel around Vancouver Island is to drive.
There is coach bus service to most of the major cities on the island, but it is generally a patchwork, and travelling around by bus often involves inconvenient waits to catch connecting buses.
VIA also operates daily train service from Victoria to Courtenay on the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island, with stops at most of the towns in between. The service provides an alternative to the coach bus service. Unlike the coach buses, once you are on the train, there is no long layover or transfer required at Nanaimo. Monday-Saturday; the train leaves Victoria at 8:00 in the morning and gets to Courtenay 4 and a half hours later. It leaves Courtenay at 1:00 in the afternoon getting back to Victoria in the early evening. On Sunday the train leaves Victoria at noon and runs 4 hours later than the weekday schedule.
For high end traveling on Vancouver Island, Exposure merges adventure and luxury to serve a niche group of travel connoisseurs who demand exquisite, authentic and meaningful experiences. Travelers can be wild in style choosing from gourmet kayaking leaving from Tofino, culinary cruising in the Southern Gulf Islands aboard an expedition yacht, or scuba diving with six gill sharks off Hornby Island, to name a few. All trips can be customized, are all-inclusive and fully escorted.
In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach region, see the giant old growth forest at Cathedral Grove, funky "goats on the roof" market at Coombs, and watch the tide go out for more than a kilometer at Parksville and Rathtrevor Beaches.
Vancouver Island Calendar of Events Festivals, Concerts, Sporting events
Go on a hiking or walking nature tour of ancient rainforests with their giant trees, visit alpine meadows and lakes or stroll along colourful sea side tide pools. Try bird watching or wildlife viewing in the area's diverse ecosystems. A mild climate means year round tour opportunities including winter surfing, storm watching, mountain skiing and fall salmon viewing into December. Journey on a whale watching or grizzly bear tour.
Out of Telegraph Cove on the North End of the island, kayak with the Orca. Half day to 7 day expeditions in Johnstone Strait & vicinity.
Golf at over 11 world-class courses.
- Tourism Mount Washington, . Discover Mount Washington, Vancouver Island's all-season alpine resort. Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a great year round family destination and base from which visitors can enjoy and experience all that the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island has to offer. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, and so much more! Stay & Play at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, Vancouver Island’s alpine to surf destination with a large variety of summer and winter activities and accommodations.
Staying at bed and breakfasts is a great way to get to know Vancouver Island from a local perspective. Your hosts will be able to point you in the direction of the best local sights, events and activities to take in on your travels.
This page was last edited at 17:31, on 27 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Jim DeLaHunt, Nick, Kara, Nick Roux, Eric The Red and Stacy Hall, Wikitravel user(s) Huttite, Copesisl and Eco84, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.