Our home for two and a half years, Vancouver Island, epitomises the best that Western Canada has to offer. Rugged mountains, lush rainforest and raging ocean – tick, tick, tick. Combined with endless outdoor recreation options and extensive wildlife opportunities (orcas and bears anyone?) it is a great place to visit at any time of year.

Take a few weeks or a couple of days, either way, you’ll definitely have a unique adventure. If you’re not convinced already, here are our top five reasons for taking a trip across the Georgia Strait!

The west coast lifestyle is one of a kind

There’s snorkelling, swimming, surfing and fishing to try, as well as plenty of more Islands (big and small!) to visit just a short ferry or paddle away. If salt water isn’t your thing, head inland and you’re likely to stumble upon a mountain-framed lake before too long. Biking and golfing are possible almost year round. You can either surf and ski on the same day if you’re up for putting a little effort in. It’s a win-win all around on Vancouver Island.

5 great reasons why you should visit Vancouver Island, Canada - vancouver island della falls hike5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island - views from Rathtrevor beach

Coast, mountains and rainforest

Vancouver Island is home to the Pacific Rim National Park as well as British Columbia’s first Provincial Park, Strathcona. The two perfectly demonstrate the diversity of landscape here; stunning beaches and rainforest on the coast and tranquil lakes and mountains within the interior. The smaller Provincial Parks such as Cape Scott (rugged coastal wilderness), Cathedral Grove (giant trees!), Sproat Lake (centre of lake country) and Goldstream (more big trees!) complete the picture.

5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - coastal views

5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - view of mountains

It’s an all year round destination

Most outdoor activities may be preferable to do in the summer but there is still plenty to enjoy in the winter. Though snow levels are low to non-existent at the town level, the mountains tell a different story. Both Mount Washington Alpine Resort and the smaller Mt Cain offer plenty of alpine adventures to those missing the white stuff. In fact, Vancouver Island’s resorts often have the biggest snow base in the world. Away from the mountains, the winter storm season provides exciting viewing opportunities on the coast, and in turn, the surf is meant to be the best at this time of year.

5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - Mount Washington eagle chair5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - Della Falls hike

Free or low-cost fun

Not only is there plenty to do on the Island, a lot of it is available at low cost or completely FREE! The beauty of Vancouver Island is priceless (literally), and the extensive Provincial Park network makes it easy to explore more and pay less. There are plenty of free or low cost ‘Rec Sites’ and Regional/Provincial Park campgrounds all around Vancouver Island (the further north you go, the less you’ll pay), enabling you to camp in stunning locations while keeping to a low budget. Our favourites are Pye Lake (first photo below) and Jordan River (only $12, even in peak season)

Read next: How to Camp for Free in British Columbia

5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - view of pye lake from camp5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - mountains

Variety of wildlife

Almost 750,000 people live here, mostly in and around the city of Victoria. It’s a fairly quiet place in general, but we’re not the only ones here. Sharing the land and waterways are orcas, bears, seals, cougars, elk, bald eagles, dolphins, whales and the biggest salmon you will ever see! Aside from just taking your chances, you can actively seek out the wildlife by joining a whale or bear watching tour.

Better still, a multi-day kayak camping or expedition trip (such as WildCoast’s Orca Camp) will get you even closer to the action. My own personal bear spotting count this year has hit 12, and I don’t even try too hard…!

5 great reasons why you should visit Vancouver Island, Canada - bald eagle cortes island5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - Black bears

Visiting Vancouver Island, Canada

Have I convinced you yet? Vancouver Island’s beauty convinced us enough to extend our time there by a whole two years. It’s a pretty addicting kind of place as you will find out.

Read next: Three Beyond the Beaten Track Vancouver Island Road Trips

5 Reasons You Must Visit Vancouver Island, Canada - Wilderness, wildlife and outdoor adventures all wrapped up in one stunning place! Why Vancouver Island should be on your'must visit' list. offtracktravel.ca

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Gemma
Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently based in New Brunswick, Canada. Gemma is happiest with a kayak/canoe paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

13 Comments

  1. Great post Gemma! I love Vancouver Island, it’s pretty clear you guys do as well, and I only hope more people are able to come explore and find something to love here too 🙂

    On another note, having lived in BC my entire life I always thought Vancouver Island was expensive because I overlooked the number of campsites. Now I want to spend a month driving up and down the island and exploring!

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hey Calli! Thanks for your comments – I think Vancouver Island is so underrated (and a lot of BC in general) so let’s keep getting the word out! The Island can be so cheap to visit, it’s just the ferry cost that makes it add up. If you end up heading over to Island soon, let me know and I can tell you the best value places to camp. Above Campbell River, there is just so much to do and see for free! Maybe go in the summer though, rather than April/May like we did 😉

  2. I would love to visit Vancouver one day! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it! #WeekendWanderlust

  3. I’ve always heard wonderful things about Vancouver Island – and you’ve proven why. Would love to visit one day! Just add it to the wanderlust list!

  4. I HAVE to get to Canada soon! Always wanted to go to Vancouver Island too – that’s crazy about the island’s resorts have the biggest snowbase in the world – I had no idea! Would love to go there in winter to go skiing! Looks incredible. #weekendwanderlust

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      It’s Canada’s 150th birthday next year so the perfect time to visit! All National Parks will have free entry including Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim NP. Mount Washington, the biggest resort on the island, just had massive snowfalls of 150cm+ in just four days as well so it looks like this winter will be a good one

  5. The natural beauty is incredible! I’d love to visit and see all that wildlife especially.

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      It really is a wildlife lover’s paradise. Thanks for your comment Cathy

  6. All great reasons and I know them well as I live just south of you on Fidalgo Island and we have all the same things. I don’t get up to BC enough. I need to change that. Thanks for the reminder. #WeekendWanderlust

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Oh that’s really interesting! We have explored a lot of the BC Gulf Islands but I’d love to go south and visit your neck of the woods too!

  7. Love Vancouver Island, we did a 3 week trip around BC last summer. We had been to Van before so couple of days there and then straight over to the Island, we did Victoria, then Uclulet and Tofino (stopping by Cathedral Grove) then on up the East Coast to Port Hardy to pick up a Ferry to Prince Rupert and onto the rest of our tour. That took in the Rockies by way of train (the local one not the big tourist job) to Jaspar and then we dropped down into the Okanagan. Have to say that we barely scratched the surface, but in that trip we had City, Rainforest, Forest, Prairie and Desert environments all in one trip. Staggeringly beautiful scenery and that lovely feeling that wherever we stopped for our packed lunch that day we would be somewhere mind-blowing.

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Isn’t BC just amazing?! So much more than just mountains…though the mountains are of course stunning 🙂 I’m glad you had such a great trip!

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