Category Archives: Tofino Beaches

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/

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.