Vancouver Island forms part of the islands of the Gulf, as well as part of the region’s mainland. This region is renowned for its mild climate and its affluent artistic community. At the southern end is the city of Victoria, Capital of British Columbia, with a lovely inland harbour in the centre of the city, surrounded by the neo-Baroque style, provincial government parliament buildings and the grand Fairmont Empress Hotel with their replica English gardens. The abundance of parks and gardens makes the island an ideal destination for hiking, trekking, biking and camping and the west coast of the island is popular for surfing. The communities are small, safe and picturesque, where all visitors will have the opportunity to purchase, enjoy culinary experiences and enjoy outdoor activities year round.
Travel + Leisure magazine named Vancouver Island the “#1 island in Continental US & Canada” in their 2015 World’s Best Awards.
The City of Victoria operates an international airport and there are several smaller airports in the region. In addition, there are several companies that offer hydrofoil and small, twin-engine aircraft flights throughout the year making it very accessible.
The ferry system is very extensive and is the most used by the inhabitants of Vancouver and of the island since it provides access to many coastal communities and the Gulf Islands. Commercial bus lines use the ferry system with frequency to transport passengers and cargo from the mainland.
In Victoria and Nanaimo bus service is operated by BC Transit. To consult timetables, services, routes, maps and costs you can visit their web site in the links section.
Ski & Snowboard
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is known for having great snow conditions from very early in the winter right until the Easter holidays for every level.
Surf & Kayak
Vancouver Island is known around the world for its north-island surfing waves. With 35 kms of beach stretching from Victoria to the north, long waves with the “perfect break” are ideal both for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Relaxed, tranquil forests, beautiful landscapes and hilly trails offer an irresistible mix of recreation, exercise, and coexistence with nature while cycling.
Imagine seeing the majestic black and white King of the Ocean, the Orca whale – or the equally fascinating, Beluga whale close to your cabin or boat. The season for whale watching officially begins in March, with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival and ends in mid- to late October as whales migrate south to the Baja Peninsula for mating season. Truly a miraculous adventure!
The Parliament Buildings
The neo-baroque buildings of the parliament buildings are home to the legislative assembly of the Province of British Columbia. Facing the inner harbour and diagonally across from The Fairmont Empress Hotel, a visit to the area is remembered by everyone. A statue of Queen Victoria, who represented the United Kingdom, of which Canada is a part, stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province’s World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. A gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver, an English naval officer, known for his expeditions and documentation of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon sits on top of the building for all to see. Free guided tours of the facility are offered year-round.
Fairmont Empress Hotel
Built in 1908, and now considered upscale, this hotel is recognized by Condé Nast as a Readers’ Choice and Gold List hotel and has received a Travel & Leisure hotel of distinction for Canada. Its grand, chateau-style structure is set facing the sparkling inner harbour of Victoria and is world-renowned for its very British-style, afternoon tea, offered in its lobby, almost as a ceremony, with a decadent selection of cakes and biscuits with tea.
This 112 year old, 22 hectare area of garden on the original estate of the Butchart Family, is one of the top visitor attractions in Victoria, receiving close to a million visitors each year. Designated a Canadian national historic site, the estate has not only spectacular garden displays such as a carousel of roses, but also has a pavilion for children and lovely cafés and bistros to enjoy throughout the day.
Cathedral Grove Ancient Forest
This ancient forest is considered a rare and endangered remnant of a Douglas fir ecosystem. The forest, approximately one hour from Victoria and Nanaimo is populated with ancient trees that are truly a rare, worldwide phenomenon. To visit one of them is an inspiring experience. Some fir trees are approximately 800 years old and measure 75 meters in height and 9 m. in circumference!
Old Country Market in Coombs
This quaint, road-side market has been there since most locals were children. Live goats roam the grass roof and the wonderful foods, delicacies and gifts attract local visitors and tourists, throughout the year.