Vancouver Island might just be the best place on Earth when it comes to outdoor activities. With mild temperatures all year and some of the most stunning landscapes, this little island on the far west coast of Canada has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you love hiking or cycling, kayaking, paddleboarding or camping, we have a little bit of everything here on the Island. The best part? It’s officially spring which means that the days are longer, the weather is warmer but the heat of summer hasn’t hit – and neither have the crowds. If you’re already on the Island and are looking for some outdoor activities to make the most of the sunshine we’ve got a great list of our favourite places to get you out there! If you’re not here yet, take this as your sign to book your next holiday on Vancouver Island!
Hiking on Vancouver Island
This incredible park on the edge of the Pacific is a spectacular place to find gorgeous hikes for every kill level. With 50 kilometres of trails through pristine West Coast wilderness, you can ramble along the rocky, windswept coast, find little coves and beaches to take a break and watch the waves. Hike through dense forests, navigate up steep slopes or just take it easy on one of the flatter trails. This is a perfect hike for anyone staying in Victoria or just a short drive away in Sooke!
Goldstream is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful places on the South Island and for good reason! If you’re looking for majestic waterfalls and lush, green forest trails near Victoria, Goldstream Provincial Park is where you’ll want to go.
This beloved park is one of the most popular hiking, swimming and camping sites and is a must when you’re staying in Nanaimo or Parksville! Situated along the pristine Englishman River this trail system winds its way through old-growth forest and leads you to stunning waterfalls cascading along the descending riverbed into a deep canyon.
Cycling on Vancouver Island
Need rentals? Want a guided tour? Check out our blog post on the best rentals, tours and detailed trail maps on the South Island!
Whether you’re a pro cyclist or if you just enjoy an easy ride, the Galloping Goose Trail or “The Goose” as it is locally referred to, is a great option for everyone! This 55 kilometre trail is mostly flat and incredibly maintained to ensure that it’s a smooth ride from beginning to end. The trail begins downtown Victoria and winds its way west through Metchosin, Sooke and then heads north to end at the top of Sea to Sea Regional Park. While you probably won’t be able to do the entire trail in one day, it’s easy to access from various points which means that whether you’re staying downtown Victoria, in Langford, Metchosin or Sooke a great cycling trail is close by!
This extensive cycling trail runs all the way from the top of the Peninsula at Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria, where it links to the Galloping Goose Trail. For guests staying in Sidney, the Lochside Trail provides a safe, picturesque trail where you can ride through and see the beaches, agriculture, wetlands and rural and urban neighbourhoods of the Peninsula.
The Cowichan Valley Trail is a whopping 132 kilometre multi-use trail that is the perfect spot to go for a cycle while you’re staying in the Cowichan Valley. Made using old CN rail lines, this trail starts just south of Shawnigan Lake, and ends just north of Ladysmith! If you’re looking for the most sensational part of the Cowichan Valley Trail, start at West Shawnigan Lake Park and ride north through lush temperate rainforest until you reach the Kinsol Trestle, one of the oldest and largest, free-standing wooden trestles in the world!
Kayaking Around Vancouver Island
Exquisite homes perched on the dark craggy rocks surround the bay of soft white sand and (fairly) warm seawater. If you’re new to kayaking or want to try paddleboarding, this is the place to start! The waters here are often calm and once you get the hang of it, you can skirt around the side of the bay and head out into the water to explore more of the shoreline!
If you want to explore the shores of the Cowichan Valley, Bamberton is an exceptional beach to cast off from. This beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors, especially in the summer but in the spring, it’s a perfect, calm, unpopulated beach to set out on your ocean adventure.
Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Benson, Westwood Lake Park is the ideal place for anyone staying around Nanaimo looking for a great kayaking or paddleboarding experience. Sure, paddling in the ocean is always an incredible experience, but paddling through the warm, calm waters of Westwood Lake is incredibly peaceful.
Vancouver Island Camping
If you’re looking for incredible camping in the Cowichan Valley, Gordon Bay on Lake Cowichan is it! With access to the pristine waters of Lake Cowichan that are known for incredible swimming and fishing and lots of hiking and walking trails around the campsite to explore the forest, there is endless nature to explore here. The campsite provides visitors with vehicle accessible sites that have picnic tables and fire rings in each site, clean drinking water, showers and a playground for campers with kids!
Right in the beautiful little town of Parksville is one of the most spectacular campgrounds on Vancouver Island. Nestled in the forest on the edge of the ocean, Rathtrevor Beach campground has walk-in, drive-in and motorhome areas that provide campers with all the amenities that are required from each type of camping experience. This incredible campground has a great playground for little campers, bathroom and shower facilities, running water and is a short walk away from one of the most unique, sandy beaches on Vancouver Island. Here you can spend the day splashing in the shallows, looking for little sea creatures and relaxing in the sun.
If you like a more rugged experience and want to find somewhere to really commune with nature, Spring Salmon campground in Sooke is a great option. While you won’t find any showers here, there is clean drinking water on tap and it’s easy to pull up to this spot and find a great site in the trees that you can call home for your stay. While you’re there, make sure to explore the meandering forest paths and take a dive in the deep, smooth-sided, freshwater pools that you can find carved by the river.