9 day self drive itinerary

Whales, Bears and Vancouver Island

Unspoilt wilderness and incredible wildlife

Experience vibrant, cosmopolitan cities, incredible wildlife and the unrivalled beauty of Vancouver Island's scenery. Arriving first in the provincial capital of Victoria, where you'll hit the water for a world-class whale watching journey in the Strait of Georgia. Then, travel to remote Tofino to discover the remote and untamed beauty, home to grizzly bears, eagles and other quintessentially Canadian wildlife. A captivating stay at an authentic luxury wilderness lodge, Sonora Resort provides the perfect setting for eco or wilderness tours. The final leg of your adventure takes you back to the mainland where you will explore urban Vancouver for shopping, entertainment and restaurants.

Our Experts Recommend:
  • Explore the rugged coastlines, lush rain forests and untamed wilderness of Vancouver Island
  • Visit cosmopolitan Vancouver and quaint Victoria
  • View incredible wildlife in their natural habitat on whale and bear boat tours
  • Take the ferry along the picturesque Strait of Georgia
  • Stay at the exclusive and luxurious wilderness resort, Sonora Resort
  • Discover fascinating aboriginal culture

Sample Itinerary Summary

We can tailor any part of this itinerary or create a new one just for you.

Duration
9 days
Guide Price
£3,789 per person
Price based on
Based on 01 September 19 departure from London Gatwick flying with Air Transat, meal basis as per itinerary (2 adults sharing) including car hire.
Our guide price gives you an idea of pricing which will vary depending on exchange rates, accommodation, duration, dates, airline and cabin class.
Destination Breakdown
Options
Private basis, Self-Guided
Included
  • International flights
  • 8 nights hotel accommodation
  • Car hire
  • Room only basis (Other than Sonora Resort - which is Full Board starting with dinner on Day 5 and ending with lunch on Day 7)
  • Three hour whale watching by Zodiac from Victoria on Day 2
  • Two hour bear watching by boat from Tofino on Day 3
  • Ferry crossings (car and passengers): Day 7, Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay (1 hour 15 minutes)
  • Days 5 - 7 Sonora Resort - water taxi transfers between Campbell River and Sonora Resort - Day 6, Guided Ecotour or Guided Bear Watching excursion, depending on season - Full use of the resort recreational facilities
  • A personalised Canada Roadbook containing essential travel information featuring overview notes of the area of travel, local sightseeing and attractions, daily itinerary highlights, provincial maps with city guides and day-by-day routing maps
Not included
  • Any applicable one way drop off fees
  • Meals or excursions unless specified
  • Park entrance fees

Itinerary Breakdown

Arrive in Victoria and pick up your travel documents at the front desk of your first hotel as you check-in. Take the rest of the day to explore the parks, restaurants and gardens of British Columbia's capital city.

The next day, embark on a incredible wildlife viewing adventure aboard a fast-moving Zodiac rigid boat. A certified marine biologist provides insight into the environment and habits of orca, minke and grey whales as well as other marine wildlife.

Points of Interest

  • Afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress

Overnight Accommodation

  • Inn at Laurel Point or Magnolia Hotel and Spa or similar

As you hit the road, be sure to have your camera at the ready – as a panorama of scenic beauty is about to unfold before you. Your road leads across Vancouver Island to the Pacific Coast winding through ancient rainforests and provincial parks. Here you are venturing into true wildlife territory, exemplified by The Pacific Rim National Park - a marvel of ecological and geographical diversity. 

Points of Interest

  • Pacific Rim National Park
  • Breathtaking scenery

Overnight Accommodation

  • Best Western Tin Wis Resort or Jamie's Rainforest Inn or similar

Today, board a thrilling Zodiac boat to take a captivating bear watching excursion and speed along the lush coastline to the bears’ feeding grounds. When the tide goes out, the bears emerge from the forests and forage along the shores in search of rock crabs, providing the perfect opportunity to see these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. Back on dry land, you’re free to explore the rugged coastline along the network of hiking trails or to walk the shoreline in search of shells and driftwood.

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Best Western Tin Wis Resort or Jamie's Rainforest Inn or similar

This morning, journey along the spectacular winding road which takes you back to the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Your route will introduce you to many gems along the way;you may wish to stop at for a brief visit at the native rock carvings at Sproat Lake or the picturesque falls at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Upon arrival in Campbell River, you board a water taxi for the short boat ride to the stunning Sonora Resort. Settle in for the night at this quintessential and luxurious west coast resort and prepare yourself for tomorrow's day of adventure and discovery.

Points of Interest

  • Spectacular view from Sonora
  • Local cuisine

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sonora Resort

You have the entire day at this luxurious wilderness resort to enjoy and explore. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy unlimited hiking, swimming, and tennis throughout their stay. Today you enjoy one of two thrilling nature adventures: Econature Tour (May 7 - Aug 26 departures) featuring a fascinating tour of the surrounding wilderness conducted by a knowledgeable guide. Bear watching by Boat (Aug 27 - Oct 10) takes you by boat to the prime feeding and gathering areas of the mighty grizzly bear. The guide communicates by headphones to passengers, ensuring the creatures are seen in their most natural an undisturbed state. In the evening, sit down to a gourmet dinner, sip a fine wine on the terrace, or mingle with other guests in one of the lounges or games room.

Points of Interest

  • Wildlife viewing
  • Outdoor adventure

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sonora Resort

Today you board the water taxi for your return trip to Campbell River where you continue your drive south along the eastern shores of Vancouver Island. Small seaside towns such as Comox offer delightful spots to stop for a quick lunch or some shopping for reminders of your west coast experience. Arriving in Nanaimo, you board a BC Ferries vessel and sail across the picturesque Strait of Georgia to arrive in Vancouver where the remainder of your day is at leisure. This evening, you may wish to dine out at one of Vancouver's many excellent restaurants, offering everything from Canadian to European fusion to authentic Far East Asian cuisine.

Points of Interest

  • Walk to Stanley Park
  • Take a seaplane flight over the harbour

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel or Coast Coal Harbour Hotel or similar

Today is free for you to explore this vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Check out the boutique shops that line Robson Street, offering everything from high fashion to aboriginal artwork or pay a visit to Stanley Park with paved forested trails and features the fascinating Klahowya Village. The boardwalks along the seawall provide sweeping views of the water and the rising mountains of the mainland. Discover the charms and sights of this truly magnificent city on the water with a sightseeing tour by boat.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel or Coast Coal Harbour Hotel or similar

Today you check out and proceed to Vancouver International Airport in time to check-in for your departure flight or extend your stay in Vancouver travelling onto Calgary through the Rocky Mountains.

  • Victoria

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Take a stroll around historic rose garden of Butchart Gardens
    • Join a whale watching trip to see the resident orcas
    • Enjoy afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress Hotel
    • Visit Thunderbird Park to see the display of totem poles
    • Discover the boutique shops
  • Tofino

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Hike the Tonquin Trail and enjoys the views
    • Take a whale watching tour by zodiac style boat
    • Surf the waves of Cox bay
    • Marvel at the wildlife, spot eagles, seals and sea lions
    • Join a bear viewing tour by boat
  • Vancouver

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Enjoy breakfast at Grizzly Lookout Cafe on Grouse Mountain
    • Brave the Capilano Suspension Bridge and witness the breathtaking views
    • Take a foodie tour in Vancouver and sample some of the amazing food on offer
    • Soar from Eastern Canada to Western Canada on Flyover Canada flight simulator
    • Visit Stanley Park totem poles