A mecca of untouched scenery and outdoor adventure awaits you on a Vancouver Island holiday. Here, you’ll find bears roaming free, whales swimming off the island’s coast, and quaint cities and coastal towns nestled amongst forests, waterfalls, tree-lined coves, beaches and mountains.
There’s so much to be explored and many gems that just can’t be missed on a Vancouver Island holiday. Visit Tofino, a town that sits on the tip of a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the sea and enveloped by untouched nature. Nearby lies the Pacific Rim National Park, made up of three units. Witness the kayakers, sand castle builders, surfers and walkers unite at Long Beach. Take to the West Coast Trail, a long backpacking trail where some of nature’s wonders offer stretches of challenging terrain. Or why not explore the stunning Broken Group Islands, with over 100 islands and islets?
Victoria: The Gateway to Vancouver Island
Victoria’s old English charm calls you to stick around long after your boat or seaplane has touched down in Victoria Harbour. Take some time to soak up the city’s many gems, from the bustling Inner Harbour, the heart of downtown Victoria, to the stunning Butchart Gardens. Wander along The Causeway, a walkway along the harbour lined with the palace-like B.C. Parliament Buildings. Head around the corner and find the floating houses of Fisherman’s Wharf that are just waiting to be explored.
For a touch of Victorian grandeur, visit Craigdarroch Castle and discover the history of the Scottish Dunsmuir family who built it in the 1800’s.
A multi-centre holiday is the perfect way to explore Vancouver Island; visit Victoria and Tofino and make the most of the island’s abundant nature. If you want to discover more of British Columbia, head to the bright lights and city parks of Vancouver, or take to the mountains in Whistler.
Great sample itineraries
Get inspired by our selection of popular itineraries for Vancouver Island holidays. With so many options for your Vancouver Islandholiday package, we recommend you talk to one of our Destination Specialists to make the perfect tailor-made holiday just for you.
Campbell River and Victoria Multi Centre
Rv Trip Vancouver Island
Our favorite hotels
Our favourite places to stay are below. We know everyone is different, so if you can’t see something you like, we'd be more than happy to help.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
The Oswego Hotel
Explore Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island has something for you. Whether you have always wanted to view bears, whales or spot bald eagles, Vancouver Island has some of the most varied wildlife. With plenty of outdoor activities for all ages from zip lining, fishing trip to surf on one of the many beaches. Here are a few things to do we recommend.
No visit to Vancouver Island should be without a stay in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. We love the old English charm, visiting the capitol building and staying at the Fairmont Empress overlooking the harbour. Make sure you have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, and sample the Empress cake. Drive out to Butchart Gardens for a leisurely stroll around the beautiful gardens and marvel at the Japanese Garden.
Nothing is more spectacular than whale watching from Vancouver Island, where around 250 orcas live in the waters off the northeast coast and every year over 20,000 grey whales arrive having migrated from the Gulf of Mexico. Head to Telegraph Cove, Tofino, Port NcNeill or Johnstone Strait to join a whale watching tour. For a day you won't forget, you'll see these magnificent creatures spout, breach and hunt.
Vancouver Island offers the best environment for outdoor activities. You'll find hiking trails, biking trails, fishing, snorkeling and plenty of wildlife viewing. Go rafting and snorkel with salmon from Campbell River or take a guided fishing trip from Painter's Lodge. Maybe it's golfing you're looking for, Vancouver Island offers an array of golf courses from Victoria up to Campbell River.
From watching sea otters play in the kelp beds off the shores of Vancouver Island to watching bears feed on the shorelines on mussels, you'll never be short of wildlife. Cruise through the waters of Tofino and Clayoquot sound, this area is renowned for spotting sea lions, humpback whales and other marine life. We recommend heading out to a wilderness lodge to be able to get up close with nature and view the incredible wildlife.
“One of the most memorable ways to reach Vancouver Island is by seaplane from Vancouver, as the views are incredible. If you prefer to travel over water, combine your ferry transfer with a whale-watching excursion.”
“Tofino and Ucluelet are the perfect places to surf, enjoy the unspoilt beaches and, the highlight, go bear-watching”
Events & Festivals
Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Vancouver Island holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.
Pacific Rim Whale Festival
Each March, as the weather starts to get warmer on Vancouver Island, migrating Pacifc Gray whales make their way back to the waters that border Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park. It’s estimated that around 20,000 whales make the journey to the island after spending the winter in the water around the Baja Peninsula. The annual event marks the beginning of the whale-watching season and is welcomed with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which sees whale-watching, family-friendly activities, talks by guest speakers and workshops being held in Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park.
Each Spring, usually between April and May, Tofino hosts its annual Feast Tofino festival. A collaboration between local chefs, fisheries, foragers and farmers, the festival celebrates the local and sustainable fisheries in the area, with events including the Dock Festival, where you can feast on seafood samples and meet local and regional chefs, an all-you-can-eat Boat to Tailgate party, and an outdoor dinner.
Tofino Lantern Festival
Hosted in Tofino Botanical Gardens by the Raincoast Education Society, the Tofino Lantern Festival is a lively celebration with handmade lanterns, live music, dance performances and delicious food. There’s also lantern-making workshops that run in the week leading up to the festival.
Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Vancouver Island holiday. Here are a few of our favourite dishes.
Originating from Nanaimo, a city on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo bars are a popular sweet treat throughout Canada. There are many variations but the bars typically consist of three layers: a biscuit and coconut crumb base, a layer of custard flavoured buttercream, and a topping of chocolate ganache.
Our Vancouver Island destinations
Types of Vancouver Island holidays
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How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.