Vancouver Island Tourist Information

Vancouver Island British Columbia

Vancouver Island | Cowichan Valley | Mount Washington | Chemainus | Parksville | Nanaimo | Tofino | Courtenay Comox Valley

South Vancouver Island

Greater Victoria BC

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and was established by James Douglas in 1843 for the Hudson's Bay Company. Victoria has always had a history as a stronghold of British traditions. Double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, meticulously kept gardens, and the tradition of formal afternoon tea have contributed to the city's long-standing reputation. However Victoria has also earned a reputation as a Mecca for adventurers drawn by the limitless outdoor activities available in the city and throughout Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

If your vacation interests include quaint urban centres, charming rural areas and adrenaline-rich coastal adventures, then Victoria and the Southern tip of Vancouver Island, BC, is the place for you.

Sidney BC

One of the best-kept secrets on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is sunny Sidney-by-the-Sea. You will find boaters from all over the Pacific Northwest who have been docking at Sidney's marinas year after year for its beautiful seaside walks, panoramic water views, exciting attractions and activities, and countless great shops and restaurants. The beautiful Sidney Spit Marine Park is a short ride away. With friendly locals and a feast of activity, Sidney has everything you could ask for and more!

Saanich Peninsula, BC

The beautiful rolling landscape of the Saanich Peninsula is dotted with farms, communities, parks, forests, lakes, and ocean inlets. Two main routes run between Sidney and Greater Victoria: Highway 17, known as the Pat Bay Highway, and Highway 17A, also called West Saanich Road. Highway 17 is the most direct route to Victoria, while Highway 17A offers a more relaxed drive through the scenic rural areas of the Saanich Peninsula. Both routes are wonderfully scenic and lead to the Peninsula's many delightful sights and attractions.

Sooke, BC

Sooke is a great spot to get a taste for what real west coast life is all about without being so remote that what the locals call "cabin fever" begins to set in. Victoria is a short 30-minute scenic drive away, offering easily accessible options for all the members of your group, with world-class fishing and kayaking right on your doorstep and the abundant boutique shops of Victoria just around the corner. Sooke, itself, is a bustling town known for its community spirit and pride. Those looking for easy-going relaxation will find plenty of beaches and parks to explore, while the more energetic can choose from golfing, cycling, fresh and saltwater fishing, kayaking, canoeing, tennis, hiking, and much more.

Port Renfrew BC

The West Coast Road ends at the fishing village of Port Renfrew, known for world class fresh and saltwater fishing off of the Swiftsure Banks. 50 lb King salmon and 100lb+ halibut are a daily occurrence in what can be only described as one of the best-kept local secrets in the province. There is challenging canoeing in the San Juan River and dense forests of massive trees. Port Renfrew also marks the southern end of the West Coast Trail.

The Southern Gulf Islands

Sit back and relax on your way to the scenic gulf islands. Soak in the peaceful tranquility, and breathe the clean ocean air to rejuvenate your soul. Many people have been charmed by the beauty and serenity of the peaceful Gulf Islands.

Salt Spring Island BC

Salt Spring Island is famous for scenery, music and art. Lots of art. A number of Canada's most renowned artists and musicians, inspired by the beauty and the tranquil lifestyle, have made their homes on Salt Spring Island. Galleries in the villages and along the country roads offer everything from paintings, sculptures, and prints, to weaving, pottery, stained glass, basketry, and jewelry.

On Salt Spring Island, BC Ferries operates out of three terminals: Fulford Harbour, Long Harbour; and Vesuvius Bay. Ferries sail to all the main access points on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland

Salt Spring Island offers a full range of quality accommodations and many excellent restaurants

. Mayne Island, BC

Boaters can find docking facilities at the government dock then walk into the village of Miners Bay. There are also docking facilities at Horton Bay. Choose from a unique selection of accommodations, including delightful bed and breakfasts, country inns, cabins, camp sites, and resorts, as well as plenty of recreational opportunities.

Galiano Island, BC

Named after a Spanish explorer who sailed these waters 200 years ago, Galiano Island welcomes visitors with its relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty. A haven for naturalists and bird watchers, Galiano is home to more than 130 species of birds. Quiet country roads through the predominantly Douglas fir forest lead to arts and crafts galleries, cafes and restaurants, cottages, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Outdoor recreation ranges from kayaking along the shoreline to relaxing on the beaches at Montague Harbour or Coon Bay.

Saturna Island, BC

Saturna Island's moderate climate, quality accommodations, and services make it an ideal year-round destination for that special retreat or quiet getaway. Cycling, hiking, and kayaking are popular pastimes and there are scenic walks and easy access to beaches.

Saturna's 31-sq km area includes forests, wet lands, mud flats, rock bluffs, reefs, and beaches. There are over one hundred and eighty bird species from hummingbirds to bald eagles. Deer, favorites among the island's wildlife, are seen everywhere. A rich and abundant marine life is visible on rocks and in tidal pools. River otters, seals, and sea lions are seen along the coastal waters and orca whales are frequently spotted in the waters off East Point. Winter Cove, site of the Saturna Lamb Barbecue, features sheltered anchorage and boat launching, with trails through mixed forest, marsh land, and shoreline, to a view point at Boat Pass. Below the rock bluffs on the south side of the island are Saturna Vineyard and Winery, Thomson Park and Taylor Point. There are beach areas for unsupervised swimming at Veruna Bay, East Point Regional Park, and Thomson Park.

The permanent population on Saturna has remained small, preserving the charm and rural character of the island. Come to Saturna and experience the rhythm of island life for yourself.

Pender Islands BC

Known as the "friendly islands" and the "islands of hidden coves and beaches", the Penders are actually two islands joined together by a small bridge. The Penders are the perfect place for family vacations, romantic escapes, seminars, and retreats and offer an intimate and pastoral setting popular with nature lovers.

Boaters can find marinas at Port Browning, Otter Bay, and Bedwell Harbour. Bicycle and boat rentals are offered, as well as a variety of other enjoyable activities.

Gabriola Island, BC

Beautiful Gabriola Island, known as the Queen of the Gulf Islands, is located just offshore from Nanaimo and offers a wonderful variety of activities in a lovely setting of forested parks and serene beaches. The Malaspina Galleries are one of the island's biggest natural attractions and are an amazing series of sandstone formations carved by the surf into unusual caves and caverns.

South Central Vancouver Island

Inspiring vistas of valleys and vineyards, forests and farmland, sparkling lakes and crystal-clear rivers abound in the picturesque South Central region.

South Cowichan - Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill and Mill Bay, BC

These quaint, picturesque communities, steeped in logging, farming, and mining history, encompass the heart of South Cowichan. Surrounded by the lovely lakes and parks and a variety of activities, visitors will quickly discover the Valley's hidden gems.

Cowichan Bay, BC

The breathtaking fishing village of Cowichan Bay is situated at the end of a natural deep-sea Harbour. Most of Cowichan Bay's waterfront residential buildings are on stilts. Shops, art galleries, accommodation properties, and excellent restaurants renowned for superb local seafood are perched over the water's edge.

Duncan, BC

Duncan is the Cowichan Valley's largest community, serving approximately 75,000 area residents. Known as the "City of Totems", Duncan can only be described as the centre point of the south end of Vancouver island.

Cowichan Lake District, BC

The pristine Cowichan Lake District includes the communities of Lake Cowichan, Honeymoon Bay, Youbou, Mesachie Lake, and Caycuse. This mountainous area, rich with wildlife, is an ideal destination for a family vacation or an outdoor adventure.

The breathtaking 75-km (47-mile) drive around Cowichan Lake takes about an hour and a half. There are many parks, campsites, and lookouts to stop at for wildlife viewing. A back logging road provides a secondary roadway and access to Port Renfrew and Bamfield, the trail-head for the West Coast Trail, as well as Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.

Chemainus, BC

Chemainus is known as the city of murals and has won international acclaim for its Festival of Murals, with the unveiling of five large murals, all professionally painted onto existing downtown buildings. The Festival of Murals has grown and now there are 33 murals. Chemainus is also home to the Chemainus Theatre, offering five centre-stage shows every year and a pre-show gourmet buffet. Chemainus won the 1994 British Airways Tourism Award, a competition involving more than 200 communities world-wide.

Ladysmith, BC

Situated on the 49th parallel, Ladysmith received a provincial award for most beautiful community on Vancouver Island and a national Main Street Canada award as one of the four best revitalization projects in the country. Harrowsmith Country Magazine named Ladysmith "one of the 10 prettiest towns in Canada". Ladysmith offers some great ways to unwind.

Central Vancouver Island

Sandy beaches, tranquil lakes, beautiful gardens, and exceptional golf courses make this region a wonderful year-round holiday destination.

Nanaimo BC

The word "Nanaimo" is derived from the Coast Salish word "Sney-Ny-Mous" meaning "meeting place". Mining brought white settlers to this area more than 150 years ago, when the Hudson's Bay Company established a trading post and fort. The year 1874 marked the incorporation of Nanaimo as a town with a population of 1,400. In 1975, the city amalgamated with a number of improvement districts, forming a new city.

Today, Nanaimo is Vancouver Island's second largest city and is known as the Harbour City for its picturesque Harbour. Nanaimo is easy to get to, and its central location makes it an excellent base for tours of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.


With miles and miles of safe, sandy beaches, beautiful and challenging golf courses, deep green forests and parks, family attractions, and 140 annual events and festivals Oceanside is Vancouver Island's family vacation paradise. A wide variety of activities awaits, ranging from Oceanside's numerous golf courses, to browsing art studios, mountain biking, kayaking, river rafting, hiking, and horseback riding.

Oceanside stretches north from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay, and west along Highway 4 and 4A to include Arrowsmith Coombs Country. The Oceanside Route (Hwy 19A) follows the shoreline. Time your visit with one of Oceanside's 140 exciting annual events by contacting Oceanside Tourism.

Nanoose Peninsula, BC

North of Nanaimo, just off Highway 19, is the protected Harbour of Nanoose Bay. The local marinas, one as large as 400 berths, are a destination for visiting boats from all over the globe. The Nanoose Bay area is a vacationer's paradise, offering a wealth of activities, including sailing, windsurfing, fishing, tennis, diving, hiking, canoeing, and more.

Parksville, BC

Parksville marks the beginning of beach country and, naturally, the focus is on the outstanding waterfront. When the tide is low, hundreds of meters of sand beckon to castle builders and beachcombers. As the tide comes in, the water is warmed by the hot sand and is perfect for swimming and makes these the most pleasant swimming beaches on the island. Relax in the sun, play in the water, stroll along the shoreline, or play a round of golf Parksville has something to please everyone. Learn more at our Parksville BC Travel Information page.

French Creek and Lasqueti Island, BC

Famous among anglers, French Creek is a short distance north of Parksville on the Oceanside Route (Hwy 19A) and has a government dock, and a resort. The third annual French Creek Family Fishing Festival is a week-long celebration that includes a Kids derby, a Seafood Chowder Competition, and daily fishing competitions and is a favourite with tourists and locals alike.

From French Creek, take the passenger ferry to pretty Lasqueti Island. Hike across to the north end of Lasqueti Island to Scottie Bay and Spring Bay, where caves and eagles' nests are located. The road down the centre of Lasqueti Island passes lakes, a mountain, and bays before reaching the Squitty Bay boat dock.

Qualicum Beach BC

Ten minutes north of Parksville on the Oceanside Route (Hwy 19A), along the same magnificent stretch of shoreline, is the friendly community of Qualicum Beach. Known for spectacular gardens and passionate gardeners, Qualicum Beach is a safe and fun place for the kids. Distant mountains, gorgeous beaches, lush forests, and an endless list of activities will bring you back to Qualicum Beach year after year.

The Pacific Rim

The Pacific region of Vancouver Island is renowned for pristine beaches, whale watching, wilderness camping and hiking, incredible fishing, and awesome winter storms. Many visitors make Port Alberni their year round base.

Bamfield, BC

Boardwalks joining houses, stores, resorts, and marine suppliers line the inlet which acts as the main street of Bamfield. Lodges, cottages, bed and breakfast inns line the streets to make this a jewel on the island, Fishing charters and adventure packages are available most of the year-round. Bamfield is the perfect starting point for Eco adventures.

Ucluelet, BC

Ucluelet, meaning "safe Harbour" and pronounced "yew-kloo-let", is located 8 kms (5 miles) south of the West Coast Junction and is the Gateway to the Broken Group Islands. Numerous picnic areas along beaches and rocky coast offer spectacular views and, in winter time, the storm watching is among the world's best.

Fresh local seafood is naturally a Ucluelet specialty and is featured on most menus in a variety of world class restaurants. Accommodation varies from ocean-front cabins to secluded, romantic places.

Tofino, BC

The beautiful coastal district of Tofino is located just north of Pacific Rim National Park and is surrounded by rain forest which include intriguing old-growth forests, white sand beaches, and the ever-churning Pacific Ocean. Tofino is in the centre of Clayoquot Sound and was recently designated B.C.'s first United Nations Biosphere Reserve. A variety of world-class accommodations which include lodges, Beachfront vacation homes and woodland cabins available year round in this world-class destination. Excellent restaurants specializing in seafood, and plenty of exhilarating activities await visitors.

North Central Vancouver Island

From the deep blue Pacific to Vancouver Island's highest peak, the North Central region is a year-round destination with a dazzling line-up of outdoor adventure and fishing experiences.

Comox Valley

The Comox Valley, including Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, Denman and Hornby Islands, are rich with outdoor activities. You can experience the thrill of high alpine skiing or mountain biking, sail on pristine mountain-top lakes or kayak in the surrounding waters. Centrally located, the Comox Valley serves as an excellent base for exploring surrounding areas.

Denman & Hornby Islands, BC

Denman and Hornby Islands boast some of the loveliest hikes, beaches, and quiet retreats. From Buckley Bay, 20 kms (12 miles) south of Courtenay, a 15-minute ferry ride takes you to Denman Island where you can take a connecting ferry to Hornby Island. Reservations are advised for accommodations. Denman and Hornby Islands have plenty of activities to satisfy the outdoor enthusiast.

Campbell River, BC

Campbell River, known as the Salmon Capitol of the world, is beautifully set between Strathcona Provincial Park to the west and the Discovery Islands to the east. During the summer evenings, massive cruise ships pass between Campbell River and Quadra Island. These dazzling, fully lighted ships seem to appear out of nowhere.

Quadra Island, BC

From Campbell River, take a 10-minute BC Ferries trip to Quadra Island. Accommodations include bed and breakfasts, lodges, farm stays, and resorts which offer charter boats and guides for salmon fishing.

Cortes Island, BC

Accessible with BC Ferries from the east side of Quadra Island, Cortes Island is one of the most impressive of the Discovery Islands. Cortes features several lodges and bed and breakfasts, and more.

Gold River, BC

Gold River is an attractive village on the west coast of Vancouver Island, bordering Strathcona Provincial Park. This hospitable village has all the amenities of home, and a wealth of exciting activities and attractions.

Tahsis, BC

Nestled deep in the West Coast rain forest at the head of Tahsis Inlet. Tahsis is the gateway to the waterways and beaches of Nootka Sound. To get to Tahsis, follow the well-maintained gravel road north of Gold River. Activities include sport fishing, kayaking, wildlife viewing, windsurfing, hiking, caving, mountain biking, and some of the best diving in the world.

Accommodations include floating lodges nestled in Esperanza Inlet to bed and breakfasts, an RV park, and a motel. All amenities such as grocery stores and gas stations are centrally located.

North Vancouver Island

Rich in First Nations tradition and culture, the North Island region offers a wealth of recreation opportunities in spectacular settings.

Woss and the Nimpkish Valley BC

Wilderness hiking and camping abound in the densely forested and sparsely populated Nimpkish Valley.

Telegraph Cove, BC

The tiny community of Telegraph Cove is gaining world recognition as the busiest whale watching spot in British Columbia, Large pods of migrating orca whales can be seen from the beach and several points across the coastline for a memorable sight that is not easily forgotten. Telegraph Cove also offers superb fishing, kayaking, diving, and wildlife watching.


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