EPIC VANCOUVER ISLAND ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

by | Vancouver Island

There’s something special about a road trip. Knowing you will be on the road, exploring new places every day is awesome and it’s one of our favourite ways to travel. Combine this with one of the coolest places in Canada and you’ve got the basis for an epic Vancouver Island road trip. 7 days is the optimal time to complete our main Vancouver Island itinerary but we also have a bonus section if you have some extra time or if you just want to plan another trip to Vancouver Island.

Even though it is so close to the hustle and bustle of Vancouver, the island feels very different. While not the typical tropical island life of somewhere like Maui, there is definitely a more relaxed and easy-going feel on Vancouver Island. There are seemingly endless cool things to do on Vancouver Island, making it pretty hard to squeeze it all into a short space of time, but we think our road trip on Vancouver Island will give you all the best bits on an amazing week-long adventure.

Having grown up in Qualicum Beach and lived in both Victoria and Tofino, we feel like we know a thing or two about the Vancouver Island road trips you can complete and you’ll only leave wanting to come back for more. Unique cities, mountain scenery, beautiful beaches, ocean views plus some cool wildlife all add up to give you an incredible experience on your road trip around Vancouver Island.

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Vancouver Island Road Trip Itinerary Overview

As mentioned above, we recommend taking at least 7 days for your trip so you can enjoy all the scenic drives Vancouver Island has to offer. We have also added a bonus section if you have some extra time and want to explore further up island (which we really recommend if you have the time).

 

Download your FREE checklist of things to do on Vancouver Island!

Day 1 + 2 – Victoria

  • Explore the Inner Harbour
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Goldstream Trestle
  • Visit Craft Breweries
  • Brunch
  • Discover Chinatown and Fan Tan Alley
  • Beacon Hill Park
  • Go Whale Watching

Day 3 – Victoria to Port Renfrew

  • Sooke Potholes Provincial Park
  • Mystic Beach
  • Port Renfrew

Day 4 – Port Renfrew to Nanaimo

  • Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree
  • Cowichan Valley Wineries
  • Kinsol Trestle

Day 5 – Nanaimo to Tofino Drive

  • Coombs Old Country Market – Goats on the Roof
  • Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park
  • Cathedral Grove
  • The Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni
  • Sproat Lake
  • Taylor River Rest Area
  • Wally Creek

Day 6 + 7 – Tofino

  • Surfing in Tofino
  • Drink a Flight of Beers at Tofino Brewing Co
  • Hike Cox Bay Trail for Sunset
  • Dinner at Shelter Restaurant
  • Explore the Best Beaches in Tofino
  • Eat at Tacofino
  • Walk Along the Forest Boardwalks
  • Check out the Boutique Shops and Art Galleries

NANAIMO TO TOFINO DRIVE | Epic Roadtrip

Best Time to Visit Vancouver Island

One of the great things about driving around Vancouver Island is that there isn’t really a bad time to do it. The weather year-round is quite mild and there is much less rain here than the likes of Vancouver, making it possible to plan an adventure here at any time.

Having said that, summer is always the best time to visit as you’ll get long sunny days and warm weather which is perfect if you are looking to camp or stay in a van. Most of the activities we suggest are outdoors, making summer the ideal time of year to come.

How to Get to Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island From Vancouver

Wondering how to get to Vancouver Island from Vancouver? We’v got you covered. The options are to fly or to take the ferry to Vancouver Island from Vancouver. The most popular option is to take the ferry over and we suggest taking the ferry to Victoria as this is the starting point for our itinerary.

One of the Vancouver to Vancouver Island car ferries operates from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, which is a 30-minute drive from downtown Victoria. This ferry is operated by BC Ferries and you can find their sailing schedules to help plan your trip here.

The second option is to fly to Victoria and then rent a car once you are there. This is the fastest way to travel to Vancouver Island from Vancouver. You can fly from Vancouver Airport (YVR) to Victoria (YYJ), with daily flights. But the best flight option is to take a seaplane from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. This is an epic experience and if you are planning to fly this is the way to do it.

Check the latest schedules and availability for seaplane flights here.

The Ferry to Tofino at sunset
The ferry to Vancouver Island from Vancouver

Seattle to Vancouver Island

If you are coming from Seattle then you have very similar options. The most popular choice is to drive onto the MV Coho ferry which travels from Port Angeles WA to Victoria BC and is operated by Black Ball Ferry Line. You can check the ferry schedule here.

The second option is to fly from Seattle to Victoria and rent a car when you land. You can fly from Seattle Airport (SEA) to Victoria (YYJ) or you can take a seaplane from several locations in Seattle to the inner harbour in downtown Victoria.

Vancouver Island Road Trip Map

The below Vancouver Island road map lays out the driving route for our Vancouver Island itinerary. Most of the driving will be along the highway and it should be quite easy to navigate around this route.

Vancouver Island Itinerary

Day 1 – Victoria

Victoria is the perfect place to kick off your trip. It’s a beautiful city with the inner harbour located right in the city centre. We recommend taking a couple of days to explore the city and its nearby surroundings – you could easily spend more time here. You can read our full guide on Victoria here.

Where to Stay in Victoria

Helm’s Inn – Situated right on the corner of Beacon Hill Park and just minutes away from the inner harbour, this is an amazing location. The rooms are fantastic and select rooms also come with a kitchenette so you can cook your own meals.

>>Check the latest prices and availability for Helm’s Inn here.

Explore the Inner Harbour

Start your trip right in the heart of Victoria by exploring the inner harbour and the downtown core of this pretty city. The inner harbour is a hive of activity as you have a constant stream of boats and seaplanes coming and going throughout the day. The sound of seaplanes taking off always reminds me of walking around the harbour as it is a constant here.

The harbour is surrounded by some beautiful buildings including the Fairmont Empress and the Parliament Building. The Parliament Building has a large green lawn that sprawls down towards the water and is a great spot for a picnic lunch. You could easily spend hours sitting and watching the world go by as there is so much going on here.

Victoria Inner Harbour

Fisherman’s Wharf

One of Victoria’s more unique attractions is the floating community at Fisherman’s Wharf. Just a 5-minute walk from the inner harbour, you will find a small cluster of floating homes and restaurants connected by wooden boardwalks and it is all publicly accessible. Each floating home is unique in its shape, size and decor and it makes for such a funky place.

Most of the houses have full-time residents and you can see them out enjoying their decks on a sunny day. As you walk amongst the houses you may also get the chance to see some friendly seals that love swimming up to the boardwalk to see what all the tourists are up to. You can also grab a bite to eat as there are a couple of floating restaurants serving takeaway meals such as fish and chips and sushi.

Fishermans Wharf, Victoria

Goldstream Trestle

You’ll find Goldstream Provincial Park a short drive outside of Victoria. While there are numerous trails to explore, the hike to Goldstream Trestle is our favourite. A short but steep climb from the parking lot will lead you to the trestle.

The trestle bridge is a fantastic old wooden bridge that used to be a part of the island’s rail network. It has been abandoned for many years now but the secluded location, surrounded by forest is such an amazing place to visit. You will need around 1.5 hours to complete this hike.

Goldstream Trestle near Victoria BC

Visit Craft Breweries

Like most cities nowadays, Victoria has an impressive craft brewery scene and its worth taking a few hours to try some of the local beers. You can either rent a bike and explore the local breweries yourself or there are some great local brewery tours you can take.

>> You can find more details for brewery tours here.

Our personal favourite is Phillips Brewing which is a west coast staple. They have a tasting room that looks into the factory, light snacks, a good atmosphere and most importantly delicious beer. Try out the Tiger Shark pale ale, it’s our top recommendation.

Craft Breweries in Victoria, BC

Day 2 – Victoria

Start Your Day With a Delicious Brunch

Victoria’s food scene is pretty impressive, but they exceed in the brunch department. There are a whole host of delicious brunch places in Victoria but some of the best include Jam Cafe (expect long lines, especially on weekends), Blue Fox Cafe and the Ruby.

Discover Chinatown and Fan Tan Alley

While the Chinatown area in Victoria is quite small, it is still an awesome place to visit with the highlight being Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street. This is Canada’s oldest Chinatown district and you’ll find some great restaurants and unique shops to visit.

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled as it’s easy to walk right past Fan Tan Alley. This narrow street is extremely picturesque with the red brick walls and boutique shops that are located here. If you do walk through this street we highly recommend checking out Kid Sister which serves up the best-salted caramel ice cream we have ever had and that’s saying something.

Fan Tan Alley, Victoria BC

Beacon Hill Park

A walk through Beacon Hill Park is a nice way to escape the city and it is just a 5-minute walk from the inner harbour. This is another great place to have a picnic, throw a frisbee around or just walk the many trails and enjoy the wide-open green spaces.

Go Whale Watching

The waters around Vancouver Island are home to a large population of whales and there are few places as spectacular as this to enjoy a whale watching tour. The whale that everyone wants to see, which also happens to be the most elusive, is the Orca or Killer Whale. There are also Grey Whales and Humpbacks in the surrounding waters.

Whale watching tours leave right from the inner harbour and if you take an uncovered zodiac (this is the best boat to take as you get the wind rushing past you) you get a giant red suit to keep you warm. It’s an epic experience and one of the best things you can do on Vancouver Island.

>>Check prices and availability for whale watching tours here.

Whale Watching Victoria

Day 3 – Victoria to Port Renfrew

  • Driving Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Distance: 111 kms

Discover the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island as you drive from Victoria to Port Renfrew, with some epic stops along the way.

Where to Stay in Port Renfrew

Wild Coast Chalets – Enjoy beach access from your cute little wooden cabin on the coast and spend the evening watching the sun go down while barbecuing on your own private patio. These cottages are a great oceanside escape on the rugged west coast.

>>See the latest prices and availability for Wild Coast Chalets here

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park

Cool off in the cold waters of Sooke Potholes. These naturally formed pools are dotted along the Sooke River and are the perfect place to go for a dip on a hot summer’s day. If you want to get the adrenaline pumping you can also cliff jump into some of the crystal clear pools. It does tend to get quite busy here, but it is such a good spot that we recommend stopping and you can usually find yourself a quiet enough place somewhere along the river.

Mystic Beach

The Juan de Fuca trail runs along this section of the coast and there are lots of cool beaches to stop at. One of the best is Mystic Beach. It’s about a 30-minute walk through a beautiful old-growth forest to reach Mystic Beach and when you arrive you are greeted with a short stretch of sand that is totally secluded from the outside world.

You can camp along the beach here or just make a quick visit. Mystic Beach is one of our favourites, not only because of its scenic setting but also because it has a waterfall that falls from the forest right onto the beach which isn’t something you see too often (you can also find a hidden waterfall nearby at Sombrio Beach). You will need around 2 hours to hike to the beach, spend some time enjoying the scenery and then hike back.

We also highly recommend stopping at Jordan River if you have the time.

Mystic Beach

Port Renfrew

The end of the road! Port Renfrew is a tiny community located on the south shore of Port San Juan. Known for being truly wild, you can enjoy the amazing untouched beauty of the wild west coast out here. Stop in at the Renfrew Pub for a bite to eat and a beer on their amazing patio.

Botanical Beach is one of the coolest places to visit here, especially on low tide as there are lots of little tide pools that form here that you can walk between as you keep an eye out for wildlife. Sombrio Beach is another place you should check out and there is even a waterfall hidden in a mossy green canyon by the beach.

Mystic Beach

Day 4 – Port Renfrew to Nanaimo

  • Driving Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Distance: 135 kms

The Port Renfrew to Tofino drive takes 5 hours if you drive direct but there are so many stops along the way that we recommend splitting this trip into two days so you can enjoy the Victoria to Tofino road trip. Take your time making the relatively short drive from Victoria up to Nanaimo. There are some epic stops along the way, including the chance to sample some local Vancouver Island wine.

Where to Stay in Nanaimo

Gibralter Rock Ocean View B&B – Enjoy the fabulous ocean views from the balcony of this super little B&B. It’s located in a nice area of Nanaimo and offers a quality breakfast to fuel you up for your day of adventuring.

>>See the latest prices and availability for Gibralter Rock Ocean View B&B here.

Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree

A short drive from Port Renfrew will take you to the Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree. Close to the edge of Fairy Lake, you will spot a tiny Douglas Fir growing from the submerged stump of a much larger Douglas Fir tree. This is such a unique and quirky stop on your road trip and one that would be easy to miss unless you know it is there. Plus, you’ll only need a few minutes to stop and admire this beautiful feat of nature.

Fairy Lake BC

Cowichan Valley Wineries

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island’s wine region, is home to 14 different wineries. Spend a few hours sampling some locally made wines and grab a bite to eat at one of the winery restaurants. You can either drive yourself around all of the different tasting rooms or if you would prefer there are several tours that will take you to a selection of wineries.

See prices and availability for a wine tour here!

Kinsol Trestle

There are 8 different trestle bridges along the Cowichan Valley Trail route but Kinsol Trestle is easily the pick of the bunch. It is one of the largest wooden trestle structures in the world and measures 44 metres high and 187 metres long.

Unlike Goldstream Trestle, there has been a lot of work done to make this safe for people to walk and bike along this impressive bridge. The trail to the trestle is relatively flat and easy and the trestle itself is very impressive, spanning across the Koksilah River.

Kinsol Trestle along the Cowichan Valley Trail

Day 5 – Nanaimo to Tofino Drive

  • Driving Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Distance: 207 kms

The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino is one of the most fun and scenic road trips on Vancouver Island. There are a ton of great stops along the way so you will want to leave early to allow you a full day of exploring. The Nanaimo to Tofino driving time is just under 3 hours but you will need at least double that to enjoy all of the stops along the way. Keep an eye out for black bears along this route as it is not uncommon to see them.

We will mention all the stops we recommend below but for more detail on all of this you can see our full post on the Nanaimo to Tofino road trip.

Coombs Old Country Market – Goats on the Roof

There are many things that make Coombs Market worth stopping at but the goats that live on the roof are definitely the main attraction. As soon as you drive into the market you will see goats walking along the grassy roof just minding their own business as the crowds below watch on.

The main indoor market has a little bit of everything, food, toys, home decor and a variety of other products from around the world. You’ll also find an outdoor market selling produce, a doughnut shop, ice cream store (try the Ferrero Roche ice cream, a Mexican food truck, a cafe and a high-end Italian restaurant. You’ll leave Coombs Market exceptionally well fed and watered for the day ahead.

Goats on the roof at Coombs Old Country Market

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is home to several waterfalls and canyons and makes for a beautiful walk through the forest. There are several routes you can take through the provincial park but we recommend completing the main loop which will take you to both the upper and lower falls and takes around an hour to complete. If you are a little bit tighter for time, then you can do a direct out-and-back trip to the upper falls.

The main loop is roughly a 2-kilometre circuit with some incline, but nothing too difficult. We would classify this as a fairly easy trail and the views over the powerful falls are impressive. The upper falls are the real attraction here and you get a perfect view from the trail directly across the canyon from the multi-tiered waterfall as the Qualicum River cascades down through the rocky canyon.

Upper Falls in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

Cathedral Grove

Walk among ancient giants in Cathedral Grove, a moss-covered forest filled with Red Cedars and giant Douglas Firs. The largest of the trees in the forest are about 800 years old, up to 75 metres (250 feet) tall and 9 metres (29 feet) in circumference.

There is a network of paths through the trees and it feels a bit like a fairytale setting. Walking through Cathedral Grove will make you feel like you are in the presence of giants and give you some sense of how rugged much of the island still is. It’s a beautiful spot and the slow, winding drive through this section of the forest is spectacular.

Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island

The Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

Stretch your legs and enjoy a short but sweet hike to the Hole in the Wall on the outskirts of Port Alberni. Make your way along the old gravel road and descend down a short rocky trail to reach this unique spot.

This is actually a man-made phenomenon from years ago when a large hole was drilled through the rock to make way for an old pipeline. The pipeline is long gone and what’s left behind is known as the Hole in the Wall. There is a beautiful swimming hole, full of crystal clear water that is fed by a small creek that flows right through the huge hole that has been carved into the rock. The water is fairly cold, but it does make for a great spot to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

The entrance to this trail is found almost directly opposite Coombs Country Candy which is just before the town of Port Alberni. There is a small parking lot next to Coombs Country Candy, or if you plan to buy something from the candy store you can park in their parking lot. Then make your way across the road and slightly back up the hill to find the trailhead.

The Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

Sproat Lake

If you are determined to go for a swim on your way to Tofino then Sproat Lake is the ultimate place to do this. The weather in the Alberni Valley is usually a few degrees hotter than the rest of the island and you’ll enjoy cooling down in the temperate waters of Sproat Lake. An easy place to stop is either the Sproat Lake Provincial Campsite or a pullout just past Taylor Arm Provincial Park. Both options are right on the water.

This lake is huge and you could spend hours, if not days, exploring the numerous waterways and different areas here.

Taylor River Rest Area

The water at the Taylor River rest area has to be seen to be believed and looks like it would be more at home on a tropical island. The crystal clear, vibrant green water is beautiful and you would have no idea it existed unless you were looking for this place. It used to be one of the real hidden gems on the island but has shot to fame through social media.

Don’t let that put you off as it is still 100% worth making a stop at. You can also swim and do some small cliff jumps here but the water is much colder than at Sproat Lake.

Taylor River Rest Area on the way to Tofino

Wally Creek

The final stop on this part of your Tofino road trip is the pullout at Wally Creek, just off the main highway to Tofino. This is probably the best view along this stretch of road as you look right down the river and up into the mountains. You can walk along the rocks and go down to Wally Creek and you can take in the beautiful scenery as the water rushed by below you.

You’ll only need a few minutes to enjoy the epic views on your final stop before finishing the last part of the drive from Victoria to Tofino.

Update Summer 2021: Historically, this pull-off could be identified by its small fence riddled with locks but it has recently been removed. Now you can find it on Google Maps under “Wally Creek” where you will see a small pull-off with room for a few cars to park.

Wally Creek on the Nanaimo to Tofino Roadtrip

Day 6 – Tofino

Where to even begin with Tofino? This is a truly unique and special part of Western Canada and the old-school, surf vibes will make you fall in love with this remote corner of the world. Surfing, hanging out at the beach, hiking, eating delicious food, whatever your vice is, you’ll find something you love in Tofino. Of all the amazing places to visit on Vancouver Island, this is the best of the best!

We list our top picks for a 2 day trip below but you can read our full guide on things to do in Tofino here.

Where to Stay in Tofino

Tofino Resort + Marina – Enjoy unparalleled views out over Clayoquot Sound from your hotel room. We have stayed here numerous times and waking up to this view never gets old. It’s also located right on the edge of town making it easy walking distance to all the restaurants and shops.  

>>Click here for prices and availability

Surfing in Tofino

Tofino has a vibrant surf culture and there are waves for every skill level. Whether it’s your first time surfing or you’re a pro, you’ll enjoy catching waves on some of the most unique and pretty beaches in the world. The most popular beaches to surf here are: 

  • Long Beach 
  • Cox Bay 
  • Chesterman Beach 

You can rent gear from any of the local surf shops in town and Surf Sisters even has a rental shop right at Cox Bay. Due to its prime location, Surf Sisters is slightly more expensive but you can also rent from other local shops such as Pacific Surf Co right in town for only $45-50 for a full day for both a surfboard and wetsuit rental. 

If you really want to learn to surf then we would recommend you take a surf lesson. You can find more details and book your surf lesson here.

Surfers in Tofino at Sunset

Drink a Flight of Beers at Tofino Brewing Co

It’s hard to beat enjoying an ice cold beer with your mates and there are few better places to do this than at the tasting room at Tofino Brewing Co. They have a small indoor and outdoor area on the factory floor, next to where they actually brew their beer.

You can order single beers or get a flight so you can try a range of their types. The Tofino Blonde Ale is a simple but delicious beer and we are also fond of the Tuff Session Ale and the Kelp Stout (not as weird as it sounds). They have a wide range of beers to choose from plus you can even grab some beers to take home with you.

Tofino Brewing Co.

Hike Cox Bay Trail for Sunset

There is no shortage of places to watch the sun go down but our top spot to enjoy golden hour has to be the lookout at the top of the Cox Bay trail. From the top, you’ll get awesome 360-degree views, with the best of them all looking back down along Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach, as well as over to Lonecone Mountain and the islands on the far side of Tofino.  

The hike itself is quite short and relatively easy, although it’s very muddy all year round. You’ll need around 2 hours for the round trip from the parking lot at Cox Bay. It isn’t an official trail, so it isn’t signposted but if you make your way to the south end of the beach, you’ll be able to spot the main entrance to the trail about two-thirds of the way up from the water.

We complete this hike every single time we visit Tofino and even though it gives you these stunning views it is never busy. There might be a couple of people at the top but you won’t have to deal with too many people and you can chill out and enjoy one of the most epic sunsets you’ll ever see.

Cox Bay Trail, Tofino, Vancouver Island

Dinner at Shelter Restaurant

The quality of the restaurants here, considering how small and remote Tofino is, is sensational. You can get delicious food from a number of places but easily the best restaurant in Tofino, and one of our all time favourites, is Shelter Restaurant.

The food is absolutely delicious and it also has a great atmosphere. Sit outside on the patio under one of the heaters. They just make simple and delicious food and never once have we been disappointed and we have eaten here A LOT! They also serve frozen daiquiris which are the perfect way to finish off an epic day of exploring.

Day 7 – Tofino

Explore the Best Beaches in Tofino

It seems almost unfair how many beautiful beaches there are dotted along this short stretch of coastline. While they may not have tropical blue water and white sand, Tofino’s beaches do have a unique beauty about them. The rugged scenery, tall trees that line the beaches and the many rocky outcrops combine to make some special beaches.

While there are plenty of beaches to explore, our top recommendations are Long Beach, Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach and Tonquin Beach. Each beach has something a little bit different and they are all worth visiting. Small campfires are allowed on Mackenzie and Chesterman Beaches from 6am to 11pm so you can also enjoy a fire on the beach during your trip.

Best beaches in Tofino

Eat at Tacofino

No trip to Tofino is complete without stopping at the Tacofino food truck. You’ll find the food truck a 5-minute drive from town at the back of the parking lot where Live to Surf and Wildside Grill are located, just off the Pacific Rim Highway. 

This has to be the most popular food in Tofino, so expect to find long lines when you get here. Luckily, due to the nature of the food they make, they pump it out quickly so you shouldn’t have to wait too long and it’s worth the wait. 

Tacofino Food Truck

Walk Along the Forest Boardwalks

There are several really cool boardwalks that take you into the heart of the dense forest of Pacific Rim National Park. One of the most popular choices is the Rainforest Trail, which offers two routes, A and B, which are on either side of the highway. Another great option is the boardwalk to Schooner Cove which leads you right through the forest and onto an often deserted beach. 

Tofino Rainforest trail

Check out the Boutique Shops and Art Galleries

In a place that attracts so many creative people, it is no surprise to find lots of cute boutique shops and several art galleries. You can explore them all for yourself but some of our favourites include Caravan Beach Shop, Pacific Surf Co and the photo galleries of local photographers Jeremy Koreski and Kyler Vos. The Roy Henry Vickers Gallery is another cool spot with First Nations art made by long-time local Roy Henry Vickers. He even built the building his gallery is in with some of his friends.  

Other Things to do in Tofino

While the above activities are some of our favourites, there are plenty more things you can do in Tofino if you have some more time on your trip to Tofino. One of our top recommendations would be to go on a boat tour to explore some more of the area and get to witness the surrounding beauty from the water. The top tours here are bear watching, whale watching and visiting the Tofino Hot Springs.

You can also go kayaking, fishing, take a scenic flight, and in the winter, storm watching. The nearby town of Ucluelet is also worth visiting if you have some spare time.

Whale Watching Tofino

Planning More than a 7 Day Road Trip?

While we designed the main itinerary to be completed in 7 days, there are many other great spots we would recommend when discussing Vancouver Island vacation ideas. If you have an extra couple of days then we suggest heading further up Island, towards Comox Valley and Campbell River.

Ucluelet

At the opposite end of the peninsula to Tofino is Ucluelet, which is quite similar to Tofino. It isn’t quite as cute and picturesque as Tofino but it is really worth spending some time here if you have an extra few days. One of the best things to do here is walk the Wild Pacific Trail which is a track that follows the rocky and rugged coastline at the end of the peninsula.

If you don’t want to complete the whole trail then check out the Lighthouse Loop, the most popular section of the trail, which is just 2.6km and will give you some breathtaking scenery synonymous with the west coast of Vancouver Island. Little Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the area and there are several cool coffee shops and bakeries to explore in the town centre.

In the salmon spawning season, usually from mid-September to mid-October, check out Thorton Creek Fish Hatchery to try and see some wild black bears. They come to this section of the stream to feed on the salmon and there is a viewing platform just above the creek so you can safely watch the bears from just a few metres away.

Bear watching Tofino

Comox Valley

Comox Valley is the outdoor, adrenaline lovers paradise on the island. You can find a range of activities year-round including mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, skiing and plenty more. Check out the small and incredibly picturesque town of Cumberland and get some Mexican food from Biblio Taco (it’s in the old library building making this the greatest restaurant name ever) and a beer from Cumberland Brewery.

Make the drive up to Mount Washington to explore the mountains and this is where you’ll find some great hikes and mountain biking in the summer and skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing in the winter.

Campbell River

Further up the island is the town of Campbell River, which we love because not as many tourists make it this far up the island. In Campbell River, you can go whale watching, visit Quadra Island, go kayaking and head out to one of the best waterfalls on the Island at Elk Falls Provincial Park. There is a long suspension bridge that overlooks the falls and makes for a fun visit.

Campbell River also gives you the best access to Strathcona Park which has endless epic hikes and waterfalls. One of the most popular spots in the park is Myra Falls which is a huge multi-tiered waterfall that flows into Buttle Lake. If you want to complete some of the best hikes on the island this is also the place to come. One of our favourites is Bedwell Lake which leads on to Cream Lake if you are looking for a longer and more intense hike.

Bedwell Lake Camping

Final Thoughts

Vancouver Island is a truly special place and we hope our Vancouver Island road trip ideas help you to plan a wicked trip around the island. You can use this Vancouver Island road trip planner as the basis for your trip and adapt it to exactly how much time you have to explore. While you can definitely fit a great trip into 7 days, we recommend taking more time to really get to explore the Island as much as possible.

What’s your favourite spot to visit on a road trip on Vancouver Island? Let us know in the comments!


Planning a trip to Vancouver Island? Check out some of our other guides here:

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Wild About BC About Us

Hi, we’re Luke and Roxy, a couple of adventurers that are head over heels in love with British Columbia, Canada.

We share our activities and outdoor adventures with the hope of inspiring others to get out and enjoy beautiful BC!

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