Is Vancouver Island even worth visiting any more? This post answers many of your questions and features ideas on Vancouver Island Mystic Beach, Waterfalls, Hot Springs; Yurts and many more ideas on things to do on Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is a must-visit destination when visiting the city of Vancouver. The beautiful island has many places to see and discover; whether it is one of the cities, near the coast, or in the middle of the forest, Vancouver Island will never disappoint.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a year-round destination; however, overall, March to May and September to November are great months to visit any of the locations mentioned below. If you visit Victoria from March to August, you should be aware that it will cost more because it is considered a high tourist season and will be busy.
September to January in Victoria does get rain during the winter months. Still, in my opinion, some of the best things to do in Victoria are during the winter because of fewer tourists, lower costs and mild temperatures.
How To Get To Vancouver Island
From Vancouver: BC Ferries run daily, with the last sailing at 9:00 PM. The two ferry terminals are from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria) and Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Nanaimo or you can enjoy a one-day scenic cruise through the Inside Passage between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy.
From Vancouver: Catch the 35-minute floatplane from Vancouver to Victoria. Click here to see how much that might cost.
From Seattle: To Victoria from Seattle with the Victoria Clipper Fast Ferry. Click here to see how much that might cost.
Best Way To See Vancouver Island Mystic Beach + Map
It is going to be much easier for you to hire a car and drive around Vancouver Island at your own pace.
Places To Visit On Vancouver Island
The island is relatively large, so if you are planning to travel around the entire island, I recommend working your way up from the South of the island to the North.
The first place on the list is Victoria. Located at the Southeast tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and, of course, one of the best places to visit on Vancouver Island. The coastal island city has many tourist attractions, stunning harbour views, and history.
One of the reasons why Victoria is worth visiting is because of the famous Fairmont Empress. Not only can you stay at this beautiful hotel right on the harbourfront, but you can also experience afternoon tea with delicious pastries, desserts, and finger sandwiches. Click here to see how much the Fairmont Empress might cost you.
Another popular thing to do in Victoria is experience the award-winning National Historic Site of Canada, the Butchart Gardens. Once a limestone quarry backyard to Jennie Butchart, she and her family transformed the gardens throughout the years into what it is today.
You can walk around the grounds and look at the different types of gardens, such as the Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Sunken Garden and more. You can also enjoy high tea at the Butchart Gardens, dine at The Blue Poppy Restaurant, or gelato at the gelateria.
Since Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, it is only fitting to have parliament buildings. There are free guided daily tours (subject to change if there is an important meeting) for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia building. Tickets are distributed outside of the building, and it is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Sooke And Surrounds
On the Southern tip of Vancouver Island is the small town of Sooke. Approximately a 45-minute drive from Victoria, Sooke is a popular scenic town close to outdoor recreation. It is also the perfect location if you are looking for a quiet getaway.
I have family friends who live in Sooke, and one of the first places they took us was the Sooke Potholes. It is a short hike on a gravel trail to the potholes from the parking lot. There are many rocks and swimming holes that you can swim in during the summer.
Whiffin Spit is a beautiful peninsula that is easy to walk along. The peninsula has spectacular views on either side and lots of driftwood that pile up along the beach. At the end, you will see a driftwood fort with a Canadian Flag on top and a small lighthouse. It may be breezy, so dress warmly, and you may even see some wildlife if you are lucky.
Tofino And Surrounds
Other than Victoria, one of the most well-known and top-rated tourist locations on Vancouver Island is Tofino. Tofino is known as “The Surf Capital of Canada” and attracts many surfing enthusiasts worldwide because of the large swells the ocean creates.
Surfing is the number one reason almost everyone wants to go to Tofino. There are numerous beaches that you can surf at, whether you are a beginner or an expert. Lessons are also available in the town if you want to learn how to surf. The ocean is quite cold, so wear a wetsuit regardless of the season.
If you are wondering, is Tofino worth visiting even though I do not surf? Yes! Tofino has so much more to offer those who are not into surfing. Long Beach is the most popular beach in Tofino. You can walk your dogs, watch the surfers, and beach comb, kayak, etc., for hours on end.
Long Beach, along with other beaches, Florencia Bay, Wickannish, Combers, and Schooner Cove beaches, the combined beaches make it the longest beach on Vancouver Island at 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) long.
One of the top food places to try in Tofino is Tacofino. The Tacofino Food Truck originated in Tofino before it grew into a restaurant business with locations in Victoria and Vancouver.
At the food truck, you can try meat or meatless tacos, burritos, and gringas. I highly recommend you try the fish taco or burrito, as are the best-selling items you can buy at the Tacofino Food Truck. The burritos are pretty large, so they are filling. If you are getting tacos or gingas, three is more of a meal, and two is a snack.
A 30-minute drive down from Tofino is her sister town of Ucluelet. Many people often overlook Ucluelet as a place on their bucket list. However, you should absolutely not overlook Ucluelet as the charming town has an entirely different energy and beauty compared to Tofino.
If you are debating, is Ucluelet worth visiting? Yes! One of the reasons is the unique features of Ucluelet. The coast is extremely rugged and lined with primarily massive black rocks. You cannot find this almost anywhere else on the island.
One of my favourite activities when I visited Ucluelet was exploring the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse and walking on the Lighthouse Loop Trail. It is a beautiful location where you can see the rocky and rugged coastline and ocean views.
There are two parking lots. The first one you come across will be for the Lighthouse Loop Trail. You can start there, or if you want to drive down further, there is a second parking lot with a path that will directly take you to the lighthouse.
It is an easy gravel and dirt loop path, so whether you choose to start from the lighthouse or the “starting point” of the Lighthouse Loop Trail, you will come back around to see it. Along the loop path, you are near the coast, so there are many viewpoints and one access to a beach. Be careful going down the stairs; it is slippery when wet.
One of my favourite locations was Big Beach, in front of the Ucluelet Community Centre, which we accidentally discovered. It is a picnic park, so people barbecued and had small bonfires on the beach. It is a stunning small beach, and during the sunset, it was even more incredible.
We were going to do the Ancient Cedars Loop Trail; however, it started to rain on us. It is a beautiful coastal trail that takes you through cedar trees. It is also part of the Wild Pacific Trail. It is mostly flat and easy to do, and the ocean views are incredible.
Port Alberni is the halfway point between Nanaimo and Tofino/Ucluelet. It is another location on the island where you can find many outdoor recreational hikes and lakes to swim in.
Hole in the Wall is a scenic spot outside of Port Alberni. It is a man-made large hole drilled through solid rock for an old pipeline. Later on, the pipe was removed, and a creek started to flow through the hole into the pool below. It is a short walk to get to and a great pitstop if you are heading to Tofino and Ucluelet.
The Maplehurst Trail is a trail that consists of interlinking loops that are easy to walk on. The main route takes you through maple and alder trees along with footbridges. The trial can have some muddy and steep locations.
There may also be broken tree branches after a storm and a possibility of seeing wildlife such as black bears, so keep an eye out!
Campbell River is a city closer to the North part of Vancouver Island. It is a hub for eco-tours, fishing, and logging. The main thing that Campbell River is known for is the abundance of salmon, as it is often called the “Salmon Capital of The World.”
Elf Falls Provincial Park has a stunning waterfall and is one of the best places for salmon fishing. This makes Elk Falls one of the best locations on the island. Two kilometres away from Downtown Campbell River, the park is considered one of the best places to go camping.
The Museum of Campbell River is on a seven-acre woodland site with views of Discovery Passage (shipping lane). The museum offers a wide range of exhibits that are either permanent, temporary, or outdoors. Some permanent exhibits include a history of First Nations, Logging in the Jungles, sports fishing, and more.
What started as a community project, the Maritime Heritage Centre offers education, research, exhibitions, and social engagements. The centre was also used to reconstruct and house a BCP45 fishing seiner, once on the back of the five-dollar bill.
Click below to see what other tours and excursions you can do from Campbell River.
The second largest city on Vancouver Island is Nanaimo. Due to its central location on the island, it was known as “The Harbour City.” It is also a hub for Indigenous history, culture, and industrial history. Nanaimo is also the birthplace of the dessert called Nanaimo Squares.
The award-winning Nanaimo Museum showcases spectacular exhibits. Located in Downtown Nanaimo, the museum encourages everyone to “make a discovery” when visiting. Some exhibitions include the (Nanaimo’s) Sports Hall of Fame, The Coal Mine, The Snunéymuxw, and more.
Neck Point Park is a beachfront park that has beautiful ocean and forest views, and it is also a popular spot for scuba diving. You can also do the loop walk or check out Sunset Beach.
Coombs is a small community on Vancouver Island. Still, it is the one place on the island that many people should stop for a pit stop, and it is because of their most significant attraction, Old Country Market, also known as Goats on a Roof.
While the official name of the market is Old Country Market, it is widely better known as “Goats on a Roof” because, during the summer, goats hang out on the top of the market roof. The roof has grass and small wooden huts for the goats to graze and play.
Inside the market, however, has a wide range of everything from toys to groceries, pastries, deli meats, and much more. You can also explore the surrounding area with small shops outside the market.
Vancouver Island Mystic Beach
One of the most popular hikes is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Mystic Beach. It is a moderate hike that will take you through dense forest that opens up to a beautiful grey-coloured sand beach with a stunning waterfall falling off the cliffside of a massive rock face onto the beach.
The two-kilometre (1.24 miles) out-and-back hike will take approximately 45 minutes. The trail does have steep locations along the route, as well as possible muddy areas. There are also tree roots that do pop above ground, so do watch your step.
You will also want to pay attention to the tide schedule, as it may be harder to walk along the beach when there is a high tide. Also, keep your doors locked and take all your valuable belongings with you.
Near the centre of the island is one of British Columbia’s oldest parks, Strathcona Provincial Park. It is a beautiful and rugged mountainous park, some with perpetual snow-covered peaks, that covers over 250,000 hectares.
The provincial park is perfect for those experienced hikers looking for the best backpacking or hiking opportunities in the undeveloped wilderness. There are also camping opportunities within the park as well. Keep an eye out for campfire bans during the summer months.
There are two locations with visitor-oriented developments if you are not looking for the outback backpacking style. Those are the Buttle Lake Trails and vicinity and the Forbidden Plateau.
Both locations have many different hiking trails, with times ranging from 1.5 hours to seven hours (one-way). The Forbidden Plateau area, I would say, is “easier” than the Buttle Lake Trails due to the elevation gain and trail length.
The tiny, picturesque town of Telegraph Cove on North Vancouver Island is one of the best places to visit during the summer as the little town becomes a bustling hub for fishermen, boaters, campers and kayakers. One of the biggest attractions Telegraph Cove is known for is the eco-tours, especially whale watching. Whale watching is a popular tourist and local thing as British Columbia is part of the migration path for whales. Telegraph Cove is one of the well-known spots on Vancouver Island, where you will almost always see whales during the migration season.
One of the remote locations that is worth a visit is Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. Take the half-hour boardwalk journey to soak in natural mineral hot springs near the coast. It is a unique location where the cascading geothermal hot springs fall into the rocky pools below and continue to flow from one pool to another. Gradually, the water becomes cooler from the ocean waves. You can get to Hot Springs Cove from Tofino; there are tour companies that offer tours to Hot Springs Cove. It is only accessible by a 20-minute seaplane flight or a 1.5-hour boat ride, and if you choose to do both, you will have the whole “Sea to Sky” experience.
The Best Yurts On Vancouver Island
Glamping On Vancouver Island
Alternatively, you can use this map to search for accommodation on Vancouver Island
As you can see, these locations are some of the best places to visit on Vancouver Island. However, there are always more small towns and parks to be discovered. I hope you enjoy Vancouver Island Mystic Beach and your time at some of these locations that bring out the best of what Vancouver Island has to offer.
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