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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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/
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/