From sparkling open seas to smooth hidden coves and majestic old forests, Pacific swell-swept beaches and spectacular sunsets, Vancouver Island is the sort of place that simply exudes beauty. Running southeast to northwest, this long island is situated between the upper corner of Washington and the edge of mainland British Columbia. A quick ferry ride from Vancouver, the island is well-loved by visitors from both sides of the border.
Ridged with interior mountains and seamed with lakes and rivers, Vancouver Island boasts an extensive repertoire of activity. Butchart Gardens blooms with color when warming summer sunshine sends winter scurrying for cover, though for flora and fauna without the crowds, travelers will want to head further out of Victoria.
Nanaimo, the island's other big city, is just across the water from Vancouver. Take the time to do some scuba diving here along the reef, or, should that seem too cold for you liking, explore the waters from the relatively dry confines of a kayak. If you're determined to dip your toes, avoid the onset of frosting at the relatively warm waters of Transfer Beach Park near Ladysmith to the south.
Don't dally so long that you run out vacation days before you make it to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Hikers can take to the trails ? the very experienced won't want to miss the strenuous section of the West Coast Trail that passes through ? while the rest can enjoy easier walks or beach comb along the shores. Watch for whales in season along the coast, and seals bobbing in the swell.
Take a soak in the hot springs near Tofino, spend an afternoon kayaking or paddle around on a surf board ? just plan to get wet.
There are plenty of things to see and do on Vancouver Island, so bring along a rain jacket, a camera and get set to explore a lush wet coast paradise.
Nanaimo on Vancouver Island is linked by two different ferry ports to two mainland ports. Ferries also run between Anacortes, Washington, and Victoria, and from Port Hardy at the northern end of Vancouver Island, to Prince Rupert.