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Discover the 40-plus murals in Chemainus’ outdoor art gallery.

Explore the sites and scenes surrounding Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Ski the slopes at Mount Washington Alpine Resort in the Comox Valley.

Walk among moss-covered trees in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.

Take a whale-watching tour and get close to these amazing animals.

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Golf, shop or enjoy sublime seaside views in Parksville and Qualicum.

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Explore pristine beaches and forests at Pacific Rim National Park.

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Explore Vancouver Island’s historic towns, fertile valleys and pristine wilderness

Vancouver Island may best be known for Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, where half of the Island’s 750,000 residents live. The city is a splendid place to visit, with museums and galleries, seaside strolls and shopping, historic Chinatown and interesting architecture. But there’s plenty beyond this southern tip of land, where iconic edifices such as the Parliament buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel stand proud in the Inner Harbour.

Drive the 502 kilometres of scenic highway from Victoria to Port Hardy, near the north end of the Island, and it will take you six and a half hours. And that’s not counting the highway that leads travellers south through Sooke to Point Renfrew, or the rough road from Port Hardy to remote Cape Scott Provincial Park. After all, Vancouver Island encompasses 31,000 square kilometres, making it about the same size as Taiwan. With the mildest climate in Canada and a varied landscape, Vancouver Island’s fringes and interior reaches beg exploration.

Vancouver Island is located across the Georgia Strait from Metro Vancouver, sheltering the mainland from waves that roll across the Pacific Ocean. That means that its wild west coast bears the brunt of winter storms, with massive waves crashing on shore. For communities such as Tofino and Ucluelet, all that action translates to superb — if not chilly — surfing and sublime sandy beaches.

The peaceful Saanich Peninsula and Cowichan Valley include farming communities where you can tour vineyards and taste wines. Duncan has earned its nickname, “City of Totems” for the 80 Aboriginal totem poles that stand tall throughout the town. Chemainus shows off its artistic side with more than 40 massive outdoor murals. Nanaimo offers some of the best scuba diving and shopping in BC. Parksville and Qualicum feature serene beaches and golf courses. And Mount Washington in the Comox Valley offers downhill and cross-country skiing in a coastal alpine setting.

Farther north, as the towns get smaller, it seems the trees get larger and the rivers run deeper. Waterfalls cascade down rocky crags, and centuries-old trees stand majestically in protected parks for all to enjoy. Salmon fishing and other recreational pursuits are legendary in Campbell River. The town is also a gateway to the Discovery Islands (Northern Gulf Islands), Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island’s remote coves and islets, where visitors can take guided tours to spot grizzly bears and whales in their natural habitats.

So whether you plan to golf or shop, ski or surf, enjoy wildlife, wine or spas, Vancouver Island has what you are looking for.

 

Top places to go and things to do


1. Victoria - Tour the Parliament buildings, have afternoon tea the Fairmont Empress Hotel and explore the Inner Harbour’s shops, galleries and museums.

2. Pacific Rim National Park - Surf Tofino’s massive waves, strolling its sandy beaches, hike the rainforest trails and go on a whale-watching adventure.

3. Wine Tours - Tour working wineries throughout the island and sip wines and ciders crafted from local grapes and fruit.

4. The Butchart Gardens - Wander through 55 acres of beautiful blooms at this iconic National Historic Site near Brentwood Bay.