Hi guys! Rainforest, rocky cliffs and a royal city. Right, I am talking about Vancouver Island. What an amazing and beautiful place! Moritz and I have spent the last week in Ucluelet and Victoria and enjoyed every minute of it. Here come my 10 things to do on Vancouver Island
1. Enjoy the ferry ride
Even getting to Vancouver Island can be quite breathtaking. We took a ferry and enjoyed the views on little islands and some maritime wildlife. Look out for seals and whales! But don’t worry, if the whales are shy during your ferry ride, you’ll have heaps of opportunities for whalewatching while staying on Vancouver Island – either from land like for example while hiking the Wild Pacific Trail, or with a professional whalewatching tour.
2. Explore historic Victoria
Victoria is not only the biggest city on Vancouver Island but also the capital of British Columbia. More than 80.000 people live here and profit from the mild Mediterranean climate. Yep, Victoria is quite a good spot for your next summer vacation. It hardly ever gets colder than 0 degrees Celcius or hotter than 30 degrees. Moreover, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. British settlement begun in 1843 and when you spot the historic buildings you feel brought back to the good old days immediately. The Parliament House…
…and the Fairmont Empress hotel are two of the most famous witnesses of this time.
3. Visit one of the finest gardens Canada has to offer
Veeeery touristy but still nice is a visit to Butchart Gardens, just half an hour away from Victoria. Build on an old limestone quarry and completed in 1921, the Butchart Gardens were brought to life by Mr. and Mrs. Butchart, owners of a cement factory, and consist of a Japanese Garden…
… a Rose Garden…
… an Italian Garden…
… and the famous “Sunken Garden”, that is build at the exact location where the quarry used to be.
4. Hike at East Sooke Provincial Park
The hike along the rough coast became my favorite hike in the area. Make sure you bring the right hiking gear (good shoes are a must as the rocks you have to cross can be slippery) and be prepared to do some rock scrambling. The hike is quite strenenous but you get rewarded with stunning views, the smell of wild roses and a trail that is not taken by too many other hikers. Out of all the things to do on Vancouver Island, this is my personal number one.
5. When in Parksville go for a swim
We stayed in Parksville for one night but I have to say, I could have stayed longer. The water was very calm and also surprisingly warm! We even went for a long swim! Plus the sunset was gorgeous!
6. Hike the Wild Pacific Trail
There are soooo many things to do on Vancouver Island but this hike is truly a must-do when in the area. It is located close to the town of Ucluelet on the west coast. The trail actually consists of two trails: the lighthouse loop (2.6 km) and the part between Big Beach to Rocky Bluffs (5 km one way). The lighthouse loop is by far the more touristy part. But the views on rocky little islands and the cute little lighthouse are worth meeting the crowds. It definitely helps being on the trail early in the morning though.
7. Meet tree-methusalems at Cathedral Grove
Have you ever walked in a forest with trees that are 800 years old? If not, do it at Cathedral Grove! It is amazing to look up to the giant Douglas fir trees. It makes you feel as small as an ant (and young as a newborn baby :-)). The trees are truly impressive. The biggest is 9 metres in circumference and the tallest around 75 meters high. Well, that’s something, right?!
8. Find the magical spot in Stamp River Provincial Park
Sometimes, you don’t need a long hike to come to find a perfect stop in the wilderness. At Stamp River Provincial Park we walked only for twenty minutes or so, passed the fish ladder and continued on the sort trail, until we came to a lookout. From there we oversaw a river with an island in the middle. Three bald eagles were circling in the air and we knew instantly that we want to go down to this river. We followed the trail through an old rainforest that made us feel some dinosaurs could cross our path every second. Down at the river we were in the middle of a picture perfect scenery. We were not far from the parking area but we had the feeling that we have arrived in another world where humans are only observers. If you’re in the area, make sure you find that spot too!
9. Visit the waterfalls at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Why? Well, because they are beautiful! 🙂 Look for salmon in the clear blue water!
10. Hike through an old forest at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park
A very beautiful and easy hike through an old growth Douglas-fir forest can be found at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. When you hike along the rocky gorge you will pass two picturesque waterfalls in a beautiful forested setting. We were surprised by how beautiful the old trees were. Plus, not many people were around when we hiked there so we had nearly the whole scenery for ourselves. Sweet!
Again, there are soooo many great things to do on Vancouver Island that this list is by far not complete. If you have been here already and want to share your favorite spots, feel free to do so in the comments!
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