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Best Areas to Stay on Vancouver Island

Picking the best places to stay on Vancouver Island is like trying to sift through a pile of diamonds, looking for the shiniest one. Nearly everywhere on Vancouver Island is the best, and travelers are always after different things! What constitutes the best for some, may be the worst for others. Let’s take a look at the most popular spots on Vancouver Island. That way you can see what makes them so popular and see if it would be the best place for you to stay during your west coast visit.

Photo: www.tofino-info.com

Tofino

World famous for its beautiful beaches and unique qualities, Tofino is one of the top destinations on Vancouver Island, and even in Canada. What makes Tofino so great is that there is something for absolutely everyone. Upscale accommodation with incredible ocean views and relaxing spas, perfect places to pitch a tent, towering forests for hiking, beaches for lounging and exploring, waves for surfing, whale watching, bait patches for salmon fishing… Not to mention it’s located at the end of a stunning scenic drive. The only problem with Tofino is that for those short on time, Tofino and maybe Ucluelet are the only things you’ll see on Vancouver Island. They’re separated from the other side by rivers, lakes and mountain ranges, making them two of the only few things that stand on the far west coast of Vancouver Island. Check out www.Tofino-Info.com to get all the information you need about Tofino.

Ucluelet is also another great option to stay if you want a more genuine, fishing-town/surfer vibe. Tofino can get a bit overrun with tourists in the full-blown summer season, but Ucluelet has remained a bit of a secret. Its smaller size lends a hand to that R&R you seek, even when you’re back from that hike or soul-surf. If this sounds more your pace, learn more at www.ucluelet-info.com.

 

Port Renfrew

For a remote, Vancouver Island experience, Port Renfrew fits the bill. Just a couple hours outside of Victoria, it’s a hotspot for hiking, fishing and unplugging from the electronic world. There are legendary forests to visit and the entire road along the way is scattered with beautiful beaches, great surf and Provincial Parks. While Port Renfrew isn’t the top destination on the Island, it’s a first pick for anyone looking to truly get off the grid, while still being close enough to humanity. They even host a couple of music festivals – one in the summer and one in the winter. Exploring the South Island thoroughly enough to reach Port Renfrew will give you plenty of surprises and sweet memories of Vancouver Island to take back home with you.

 

Qualicum /Parksville

These two east coast areas are go-to’s for a relaxed, family beach vacation. They leave you well within reach of the beautiful area of the Cowichan Valley, which features tons of farms for fresh goods, wineries, fly fishing and waterfalls. They’re also a day-trip-able distance to the artsy town of Chemainus, famous for its live theatre and stunning murals. The areas themselves offer beautiful beaches and stunning resorts with kayaking and any other kind of ocean sport imaginable. Nanaimo is another hub well within reach of Qualicum and Parksville. It offers a beautiful downtown, cute shops, great food and tons of outdoor things to do. The only reason Qualicum and Parksville might be better to stay in is thanks to their stunning scenery – they’re a bit less “city” feeling that Nanaimo. During the summer, Qualicum has a giant sand sculpture building contest, and the town becomes bustling with vacationers that want to soak up the sand and the sun.

To discover more about this central-island region, check out http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/central-island/

 

Photo: www.victoriabc.ca

Victoria

As the capital of British Columbia and Vancouver Island’s largest city, Victoria has a lot to offer and is one of the most visited places on Vancouver Island. It’s easy to access, offers an escape to multiple other areas of the Island and has tons to do on its own. From great shopping at west coast boutiques and specialty shops, to taking to the seas for fishing, kayaking, or whale watching, it gives you the best of urban and remote. Plus, its known as the City of Gardens, so you’ll be surrounded by stunning greenery and even forget you’re in city. It also has plenty of beautiful architecture and historical buildings like the B.C. Legislative Buildings, the Hatley Castle (seen in X-Men), the Empress Hotel and the Craigdarroch Castle. There are plenty of different areas in the city to stay (check out this article: https://hubpages.com/travel/Where-to-Stay-in-Victoria-BC) and so many ways to escape the city for the great outdoors.

To stay somewhere a bit more out of the way, pay a visit to Sidney. Smaller in size, but just 20 minutes outside of the big city, it’s a great destination to be a little more removed from Victoria, but still enjoy the area’s perks. There are plenty of walks and access to activities like kayaking, fishing and whale watching.

For the ultimate Victoria BC resource, check out www.victoriabc.ca and the page www.victoriabc.ca/sidney/ for the low-down on Victoria’s next door neighbour.

 

The Comox Valley

Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland make up the Comox Valley, and between the three you’ll have endless things to do. They’re scenic, yet quaint and offer nearly anything you could dream of. Great hiking in Strathcona Park, gorgeous waterfalls, serene kayaking, wineries, mountain biking and fishing… the opportunities are endless, plus they have some great food. From the Valley, numerous destinations are well within reach. Mount Washington Alpine Resort is just thirty minutes away and the fishing destination of Campbell River with its famous Elk Falls and suspension bridge are a mere forty-five. The Comox Valley Glacier looms above, setting a beautiful scene and there are great farmer’s markets in each of the towns to enjoy over the weekend. Accommodation varies in the towns from beautiful 4-star spa resorts, to budget-friendly hostels and hotels. There are plenty of stunning campgrounds as well, a number with ocean-views. The Comox Valley is a well-rounded destination and is a fantastic basecamp for day trips north and south.

To find those great hikes, this is a great site: http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/top-hiking-spots/

 

North Island

Beyond Campbell River lies the great north of Vancouver Island. Most travelers will go as far as Telegraph Cove for its excellent whale watching from the Comox Valley, or Campbell River. Beyond that, Port McNeill and Port Hardy are destinations for fishermen and those seeking to hike the famous Cape Scott Trail. They’re scenic destinations by their own right, and offer some great kayaking. Most choose to stay only for a day-or-so while on their way to other activities. This section of Vancouver Island is charming and remote, perfect for anyone looking to escape the urban rush. Fishing is the main focus beyond the whales of Telegraph Cove, and the towns often consist of just fishermen. While the North is certainly worthy of the drive if you’re one for adventure, most visitors to Vancouver Island prefer to stay a bit more south.

Check out the North Island here: http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/north-island/

Vacation Rentals on Vancouver Island

Photo: www.vancouverislandvr.com

Traveling has changed from the days of booking the cheap hotel and motel, to people opening their homes to the modern-day traveler. Vacation rentals are usually the first thing people look for now when planning a holiday. What makes them so great? Plenty – check it out!

Vacation rentals let you cater your accommodation to fit the rest of your vacation. Plus, depending on the amenities and things you care about, it can be much cheaper than a hotel! Even if it costs the same as what you’d be spending, you’ll likely be getting more bang for your buck, plus a private home. Speaking of home, that’s pretty much what a vacation rental is. Most have kitchens, which are enticing for people who have dietary restrictions, who love cooking, who are sick of eating at restaurants, or who just want to be able to put on the kettle for a cup of tea. You can also get laundry machines and extra perks like balconies with ocean views, and maybe even a hot tub.

Photo: www.vancouverislandvr.com

Another great thing about vacation rentals is that you can try out another life for the weekend! Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in a sweet loft, or have a ton of picture windows. Vacation rentals are your chance to stay somewhere you’ve dreamed of, or in that alternative life house you would have had if things had turned out differently. It’s fun to try things out and enjoy an amazing vacation at the same time, and there are endless choices and options of accommodation styles and prices with vacation rentals. Having so many choices also means you can find something that fits your budget. Whether you want a basic place just to rest your head, or something more luxurious like the amazing condos on this website (www.vancouverislandvr.com), you’ll be able to plan a vacation that works for you.

A final major perk to vacation rentals are that they can be as interactive or secluded as you desire. Some home owners really want to meet you, show you around and be as helpful as possible for your stay. This is great for social travelers that want to meet some locals and see the city through their eyes. Others seek some seclusion, and can choose a vacation rental with a hands-off owner. Many places simply have a key code for the door, or a hidden key and a house manual waiting inside. This lets you feel like the house is truly yours and you can have that uninterrupted R&R you desire.

 

Photo: www.vancouverislandvr.com

At the end of an exciting day of adventures and exploration, all we really want is a nice place to come back to, put up our feet and revel in the experiences. What better place to do this than your own private vacation rental home, rather than a stuffy hotel room. Vancouver Island definitely has its share of great spots to rent. From coast to coast, there’s the perfect vacation and house to go with it waiting for you. For more about Vancouver Island, check out www.discovervancouverisland.com.

Resorts on Vancouver Island

Resorts are fantastic for a step-up from your classic motels and hotels. There are plenty all over Vancouver Island ranging from affordable three-stars, all the way to five-star, west coast luxury. Typically, the resorts on Vancouver Island offer incredible, ocean views and perks like private balconies, hot tubs and even spa facilities. Depending on where you’ve chosen, you may even get to choose between lodge-type rooms, rainforest cabins, or beachfront suites!

Besides the added comforts, resorts are great because they often have very comfortable common spaces that allow for a more social experience than a hotel. Onsite dining is also a bonus and seafood is a must while on the coast! Want to plan an adventure? Plenty of Vancouver Island’s resorts offer rentals for things like surfing, kayaking, or SUP boarding. They also often offer their own tours, or can arrange for things like fishing trips, or whale watching! If you’re worried about the cost, a visit in the off season can often mean half price rates. While the coast can get quite rainy and stormy, it also means you’ll take full advantage of your beautiful suite, condo or cabin by cozying up indoors to watch the waves and the rain.

Another kind of resort that Vancouver Island has plenty of are fishing resorts. All inclusive, stunning and sometimes on private islands, it is the perfect thing to book for any avid angler. Just check out the fishing reports to choose an area that will get you the fish you’re after!

Wondering where the best places to book a resort are? Check it out:

Tofino + Ucluelet

These two west coast destination towns offer some of the most stunning resorts on Vancouver Island. Whether it’s a summer getaway, or a winter adventure, the view will be breathtaking, and the experience unforgettable. There are endless activities to do on the coast and many of the resorts let you bring along your four-legged friends for the experience. If the coast is enticing enough for further investigation, the websites www.tofino-info.com and www.ucluelet-info.com are great places to start!

Parksville/Qualicum Beach

Calmer waters lead to plenty of ocean activities and stunning sunrises over the ocean. The resorts in this area offer plenty to do mixed with great views. They can also be pretty family friendly as well.

Victoria

The resorts in Victoria are upscale and beautiful – the epitome of comfort. Pools overlooking the ocean, incredible spas and fantastic dining are just the beginning. Booking a resort in Victoria is a way to treat yourself, big city style. If you know the city is the place for you, check out www.victoriabc.ca to start planning!

Hotels on Vancouver Island

When starting to plan a vacation, accommodation is an important step! The first that comes to mind might be a hotel, something that any town or city on Vancouver Island has plenty of. Hotels are your classic holiday and travel accommodation, providing you with everything you need for a good night’s rest. The more stars you go, the more perks your stay and hotel will have! If you’re unexcited about booking something that’s the same old as every other vacation, you don’t need to worry about that with Vancouver Island – most of its hotels offer unique twists that you can only find on Vancouver Island. Whether it’s a stunning harbour view, the ability to listen to the waves crashing against the shore at night, or stunning west coast décor with cedar finishes and nautical treasure touches, hotels in Vancouver Island are as great an accommodation option as any.

3-Star Hotels

A 3-star hotel is for the traveler that wants all their comforts covered, with basic amenities and a comfortable place to retire at the end of the day. No bells and whistles, sometimes continental breakfast and a pool, or gym, but otherwise, it’s your standard place to stay. We all know the rooms – one or two big beds with non-descript covers, a neutral painting above, a single desk and a small table, plus a TV. Really though, at the end of the day, what more do you need? When you’re out on adventures all day, you’ll likely be exhausted and more excited to fall asleep in your big old bed, rather than explore the extras your hotel has to offer. A 3-star hotel is a great way to have all your needs taken care of, without breaking the bank.

4-Star Hotels

4-star hotels are a step up and are a great way to get more of that pampered vacation aspect you may desire. Some leave little to be desired, and when compared to 3-star hotels you can quickly see what services make up the difference in cost. More comforts and amenities, more desirable views and excellent perks in their beautiful rooms. To treat yourself without breaking the bank and going all out, a 4-star hotel is a great way to go. Plus, it’s definitely a different experience compared to your run-of-the-mill, last-minute hotel booking.

5-Star Hotels

Vancouver Island’s 5-star hotels are stunning and offer the best of the best. Incredible ocean views, in-house spas, downright luxurious amenities and finishing touches like towering cedar beams, big, fluffy robes and beaming service. These are hotels that you’ll want to spend half your vacation taking advantage of and enjoying all of the perks. However, they’re also the least budget-friendly option around. If money isn’t a matter, then dipping into a five-star hotel will give you access to a whole other level of west coast experience on Vancouver Island.

Where to Book

Some of the best destinations on Vancouver Island for four and five star hotels are Tofino, Ucluelet and Victoria B.C. They’ll offer next-level service, spas and unique, west coast views, with unbelievable proximity to the ocean. In fact, some of the five-star accommodation options in those towns are world renowned.

As far as places like Courtenay/Comox, Campbell River, and Nanaimo, four and three star hotels are the name of the game. Again, most places will still have a five-star view, no matter what the overall rating is, so no matter your budget, or desires from your vacation, there’s a hotel on Vancouver Island that will have you covered.

 

For more on Victoria, the website www.VictoriaBC.ca will get you up to speed with top things to do, accommodation and plenty more information.

For Tofino and Ucluelet, check out www.Tofino-Info.com and www.Ucluelet-Info.com. Their accommodation and hiking pages are a great look at the top west coast destinations.

To check out Vancouver Island as a whole, the website www.discovervancouverisland.com is a great resource.

Hostels on Vancouver Island

Photo: www.tofino-info.com

Hostels are a great way to travel for anyone on a budget, or who wants a unique and social experience in each of their destinations. Vancouver Island is a friendly destination for the young backpacker and those who seek to explore the outdoors and excitement of British Columbia, while sleeping on something other than an inflatable mattress in a tent, or in a bed that cost more than a week of food.

For places like Tofino and Ucluelet, the hostels are a wallet saver even more than other locations. When the summer season is in full-swing, even the cheapest motels run at over $100/night! For many, it makes coming to the west coast of Vancouver Island an impossibility. Sometimes, the campgrounds can even cost enough that you’ll think there should be built-in beds in your site! There are also plenty of younger travelers that want to head this way, drawn in by the surfing, relaxed vibe and other fantastic outdoor activities. That means that staying at a hostel on the west coast is a great way to meet travelers, and there are a number of great hostel options to choose from.

To learn more about Tofino, check out www.Tofino-Info.com. If you want more about hostels and other accommodation in Ucluelet, check out www.Ucluelet-Info.com/accommodation-ucluelet-bc.

 

Photo: @laurissamarion

Courtenay and Cumberland of the Comox Valley are also a fun place to be put up in a hostel. Their main focus is in mountain biking, so your hosts will be able to get you onto all the best trails, too. They draw plenty of amiable travelers that are looking to get out and enjoy all the things the Comox Valley has to offer like kayaking, hiking, beaches and, of course, mountain biking.

For more on the Comox Valley and surrounding areas, check out: http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/north-central/

 

Even Victoria, a more posh and large city, has at least a couple cheaper places to rest your head for the night. Conveniently close to downtown, they also save you money in cabs and transportation so you can get all your sightseeing in!

To discover more about Victoria, the website www.VictoriaBC.ca is a great place to start!

 

Hostels today are also much different than the dingy, run-down versions of the past. While there are still dorms fit with bunk beds and plenty of travelers, many also offer private rooms that are still cheap, allowing you to have a more secluded experience. They have cozy common rooms that mean you aren’t isolated in a sterile hotel room when you don’t feel like exploring, and even kitchens so that you can make yourself a home-cooked meal, rather than eating every meal out. Not only can that get expensive, but sometimes, you just miss having your favourite dish that you cook yourself! While they still typically cater to a younger crowd, it isn’t uncommon to see sociable older travelers loving the community vibe of a great hostel. Vancouver Island especially is a great place to find a new adventure buddy to head out on your next hike with.

Camping on Vancouver Island

Photo: www.ucluelet-info.com

Vancouver Island is a perfect camping destination with seemingly endless wilderness in form of forests and mountains, and wonderfully maintained provincial and local parks. Whether you enjoy rugged, backcountry camping, or want the comforts of showers, toilets and fire pits, there’s a tent (or RV/Camper) spot waiting for you on Vancouver Island.

 

Top Spots to Camp

 

Victoria

Just outside of Victoria there are some great campgrounds. Some have full RV hookups and ocean views, while others are tucked away in the temperate rainforest with great access to mountain and forest trails. As a bonus, the capital of B.C. and largest city on Vancouver Island is just a hop away in case you need a break from all the wilderness stuff.

Learn more about Victoria at this website: www.VictoriaBC.ca

 

Juan de Fuca Straight

A couple hours’ drive outside of Victoria, the Juan de Fuca Straight is riddled with provincial parks, incredibly up kept campgrounds and stunning, sometimes surf-able, beaches. Explore French Beach, China Beach, Mystic Beach, Sombrio and Jordan River for some quality ocean time and great camping.

 

Pacific Rim

The Pacific Rim, namely Tofino and Ucluelet, are one of the top summer destinations on Vancouver Island. There are plenty of campgrounds – provincial, local, ocean view, rainforest, with hookups, with hot tubs, or rugged and remote – to suit absolutely any need. Some have access to stunning, endless sandy beaches and there is so much to do in the area, you will only want to be in your tent to sleep. Just bring tarps, as there can be lots of rain even in the summer.

Discover Tofino here: www.Tofino-Info.com

Learn more about Ucluelet here: www.Ucluelet-Info.com

 

Comox Valley

The Comox Valley and the way out to Campbell River has a number of charming campgrounds to spend the night. Check out Miracle Beach for a family friendly area with plenty of trails and beach activities. Areas like Bates Beach show off a lesser known beach and access to Seal Bay Park, and Pacific Playgrounds is a dream for RV-ers. Most campgrounds, provincial or otherwise, have beach access. There’s also Paradise Meadows on Mount Washington and Strathcona to give those backcountry goers their fill of overnight hiking expeditions.

For more on the Comox Valley: www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/north-central/courtenay-comox/

Campbell River

Oceanside, or lakeside, Campbell River has great options for tenting and RV-ing. Whether you want to be right in town or out farther into the bush, there are a few great options. The ones closer to town are typically ocean front, while places like Loveland Bay are a bit of a trek, but located on the edge of a beautiful lake.

For more on Campbell River: www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/north-central/campbell-river/

 

Gulf Islands

Quadra, Cortez, Denman, Hornby and Salt Spring are all fantastic destinations within the Gulf Islands off the east coast of Vancouver Island. With plentiful Farmer’s Markets, organic farms, wineries and tons of other goodies scattered around each, as well as hikes and ocean activities like kayaking, they’re a great camping destination. Some campgrounds feature basic amenities, while others are provincial parks with everything you need.

Learn about the Gulf Islands: www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/gulf-islands/

 

Cape Scott

To reach the northern tip of Vancouver Island, many visitors opt to take the hiking route – The Cape Scott Trail. Relatively famous, the trail features a number of raised tenting platforms in areas, and soft beaches to pitch a tent on. Stunning beaches and a lighthouse, as well as an adventure of a lifetime wait for those who embark on the trail.

Discover the Cape Scott Trail here: www.discovervancouverisland.com/overnight-hikes-by-region/north-island/cape-scott-trail/

 

Tips to Camping on Vancouver Island

With some relatively remote camping areas available, there are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Be Bear Aware

-Learn what to do if you encounter a bear

-Know how to make a bear cache and keep food away from where you sleep

-Refrain from packing overly smelly foods/products

  1. Know your Trail

-There are plenty of backcountry routes + mountain summits

-Know where you’re going and bring a map

  1. Tarps, tarps, tarps

-Temperate, but rainy means you could get wet

-Tarp your tent and the ground to stay dry

  1. Know the Risks

-Plenty of other wildlife live on Vancouver Island

-Learn about cougars and wolves and what to do if you encounter them

-Learn wilderness safety

-Never hike alone

 

As far as accommodation goes, camping is basic, fun and is the easiest way to get back-to-nature. Plus, it offers a true Vancouver Island/West Coast experience. As long as you’re prepared, all you have to do is dive into nature and enjoy nature at its finest, wildest and most replenishing.