Your Guide to Winter Activities on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island offers a wonderful winter destination for skiers, storm watchers and the general outdoor lover. No matter what your pleasure is, there is a venue for fun and frolic waiting just for you!

Vancouver Island Skiing

Located on the Eastern fringes of Vancouver Island, Mount Washington is the go-to spot for skiers and snowboarders from all over the globe. Known for both ocean views and alpine vistas, this area gets more than ample annual snowfall to keep the winter attractions in full swing from early winter to around Easter. And, while you may have heard of Whistler, Mount Washington ranks a close second behind them for the busiest alpine resort in the province.

Courtenay/Comox Valley is easily accessible from the Island Highway (the thoroughfare linking the area with southern Vancouver Island and Victoria). This area is well-known for beaches, golf and aviation, but don’t overlook the close proximity to Mount Washington when choosing a home base for a winter ski trip.

Whistler, a world-renowned, award-winning ski destination, offers magnificent views, skiing and other winter activities for those looking for top-notch adventure between the peaks of Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain. Come prepared to enjoy an idyllic setting in the mountains of British Columbia surrounded by alpine lakes and forest—perfect for world-class skiing.

Storm Watching

Weather fanatics love nothing more than storm watching and Ucluelet is the place to head for this winter activity. Nature’s fury is at its peak for storm watching November through March with gale-force winds reaching more than 70km an hour. The Ucluelet region pulls in some four meters of rain per year with winter storms surging from all around. You’ll witness 10-foot waves thrashing the beaches, slamming the rocks and sending sea spray high into the air. Beachcombing following a storm is a common pastime in this area with finds of driftwood and Japanese glass fishing floats being coveted souvenirs.

Another prime storm-watching destination is Tofino on Vancouver Island between November and late February. Experience massive waves up to 20 feet in height, grand swells and, of course, gale force winds—all integral parts of major West Coast winter storms creating some incredible lifetime memories for those who head out in search of these forces of nature. Why is this such a great viewing area? One reason is the large amount of exposed coast with virtually no landmass between Tofino and Japan.

More Winter Activities

While visiting for skiing or storm watching, you might also take pleasure in other wintertime activities. Snowboarding and snowshoeing certainly go along with the skiing theme, but did you know there’s hiking, mountain biking and even spelunking in the colder months?

Choose an easy trail in the Shawnigan Lake area or something more challenging like Mt. Benson in Nanaimo. You’ll be surrounded by nature, a side of the region that stands in stark contrast to Vancouver Island city life. Chase waterfalls and satisfy your craving for an outdoor adventure of a different kind.

Caving is a great winter activity and with the year-round cooler temperatures inside of caves, sometimes it’s more comfortable than being outside of them. Check out Horne Lake Caves a half-hour outside of Parksville. Guided tours are offered and provide great information as well as equipment for spelunking.

No matter what brings you to Vancouver Island, EMR Vacation Rentals has a prime vacation rental to ensure accommodations that suit your travel party. Don’t forget to book early for the best in lodging!