Enjoy 11 days exploring the diverse landscape and culture of beautiful Vancouver Island. From rainforests to marshes, beaches to mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes, Vancouver Island is one of the world's premier locations for whale watching, birding and fishing.
During your time on Vancouver Island visit Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, take in the Totem Pole, British style architecture and unwind at the picturesque Inner Harbour. Travel north taking in spectacular views of the Gulf Islands throughout the Strait of Georgia. Cross east to Tofino on the northern edge of the Pacific Rim and enjoy exploring before travelling to the Sunshine Coast.
For the more active there is an abundance of land and water based activities on offer to keep you busy. The Pacific Rim National Park offers many walking & hiking trails and is home to no less than 6 beautiful beaches. Perhaps kayak from Tofino to Meares Island before taking a stroll through the Rainforest or head off on a coastal bear viewing adventure, the choice is yours!
Vancouver Island Motorhome Experience includes:
- Return UK flights
- Overnight in Vancouver hotel
- Your choice of motorhome
- Opportunity to visit a variety of Provincial Parks.
Day 1 - Fly UK to Vancouver
Arrive in Vancouver and make your way (not included) to your downtown hotel.
Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel
Day 2 - Depart from Vancouver to Victoria (69 km/43 miles)
The Tsawwassen Ferry to Swartz Bay is the best choice for reaching Victoria quickly. The ferry ride is about two hours long. If the weather is fair, there is nothing better than to stand out on deck while navigating the narrow passages between the Gulf Islands. You enter a very narrow channel with a close view of Galiano Island on the north and Mayne Island on the south side, coming out on the south-west side of Salt Spring Island and winding your way toward Swartz Bay. As you approach the Bay, the island on the south side of the ferry is Pender Island. The islands offer a slower pace of life. There are small farms, acreages, and summer cottages. As well, many well-known artists make the Gulf Islands their home. 20 minutes from the Swartz Bay Terminal is Beachcomber RV, our recommended campground for tonight. This is a good place to stay if you are planning to visit Butchart Gardens or the Victoria Butterfly Gardens in Brentwood Bay on the morning of Day 2.
Day 3 - Full day in Victoria
Start your day by visiting Butchart Gardens, a short drive from your campground. While in the area, Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers your only opportunity to experience the warmth, beauty and romance of a tropical jungle without going to the tropics. Drive into Victoria and spend the next two days wandering in old downtown and the waterfront. See the Parliament Buildings and have high tea at the Empress Hotel. Close by is the Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre. If you enjoy historic houses, take an easy eight-minute drive from Victoria's inner harbour, up Fort Street, right on Joan Crescent to visit Craigdarroch Castle.
Alternatively you can walk there from the inner harbour, up Fort Street, along Antique Row - stopping at various interesting shops and sights. Turn right on Joan Crescent and it's a two-minute walk to the entrance. Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. This Victorian mansion, overlooking the City of Victoria, announced to the world that he was the richest and most important man in Western Canada.
Day 4 - Victoria to Malahat (27 km/17 miles)
Spend another day exploring Victoria and all it has to offer. You may like to leave your RV behind today and explore by bike. Cycle Treks Victoria offers a number of single day guided and unguided bike trips worth looking into. Later today, take the 30 kilometre journey up the Island Highway to Malahat and stay with one of our two campground partners in the area where you can relax, build a campfire and reflect on the day's activities. We recommend you book these campgrounds in advance, particularly during July and August. A stay here will enable you to have a leisurely start to Day 4, away from the traffic of Victoria.
Day 5 - Malahat to Nanaimo (91 km/57 miles)
Expect the unexpected on your drive north to Nanaimo. There is such a variety of scenery with every bend in the road, from thick forest, to small towns, and spectacular views of the Gulf Islands that are sprinkled throughout the Strait of Georgia. On your way up the Trans Canada Highway, Bamberton Provincial Park is a worthwhile stop for a scenic break. Duncan, nestled in the Cowichan Valley, is also an interesting stop. The Lumber Mill Museum is worth a look. Duncan is known as the “City of Totems”. In the downtown area, you will find a historic totem pole walking tour. This island town also gives you access to mountain biking and hiking trails, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.
Day 6 - Nanaimo to Tofino/Ucluelet (170 km/129 miles)
Branching off the Trans Canada Highway onto Highway 4, just north of Nanaimo, you will be on your way to Port Alberni and Tofino. For another scenic break, you may want to stop in either Little Qualicum Falls, McMillan or Sproat Lake Provincial Parks. These provincial parks are further inland and have a different feel from those that border the ocean front. You are getting into mountainous and forested terrain at this point and there is more wildlife viewing potential. Begin looking for cougar tracks here. It is not recommended to walk too far on your own; traveling in larger groups is advisable. Vancouver Island has a high concentration of cougar populations, although confrontations are very rare. Stop in Coombes to see the goats that graze on the roof of a local establishment, and stop at Cathedral Grove, near Port Alberni. Walk among huge old-growth rain forest with trees up to two to three metres thick.
From Port Alberni to Tofino, the highway narrows. Traffic usually slows down somewhat through this section to accommodate the winding, mountainous terrain. For this reason, it is wise to build extra time into your schedule to make your drive less pressured.
Day 7 - Full day in Tofino/Ucluelet
Whale watching tours are one possibility that cover much of the calendar year. Remote Passages Marine Excursions are one of the companies offering such an experience. Their whale watching trip has earned Canadian Signature Experience status. All companies take you out in zodiacs or in larger power boats, cutting the motor when they are close and never getting too close to infringe on whale movements. These companies also take passengers out in summer to watch for bears that forage along the beaches when the tide is out. There are a few sea-kayaking companies that offer lessons and day trips, as well as longer tours. There have been many people who have seen a whale spout very close to their kayak. Passionate about playing golf? - try playing a round at Long Beach Golf Course overlooking the ocean. The third hole may catch you out, as the fairway looks completely straight, but it actually has a very gentle curve. It seems that if you miss, your ball will be in the Pacific. For this reason, it is one of the most challenging fairways on the island. With all these activities to choose from, it seems that you could have a busy day here. You may well decide to spend a day or two more in this beautiful part of Vancouver Island so you don't have to choose one activity over another.
Day 8 - Tofino to Courtenay (360 km/224 miles)
Leave Tofino and head back towards Qualicum Beach. Take the Oceanside Route - 19A - from Parksville, en route to Courtenay. The Oceanside Route follows the coastline from the Nanoose Bay area all the way to Campbell River but we'll be travelling only a portion of it. Parks, beaches, golf courses, and dozens of attractions are located along the Oceanside Route, making it one of the Island's most popular driving tours. Stop for world famous oysters in Fanny Bay!
Day 9 - and 10 Courtenay/Comox to Vancouver via Horseshoe Bay (224 km/139 miles)
While it's possible to get all the way from Comox to Vancouver in one day, the trip involves three ferry crossings and we recommend you take your time and spread the journey over two days. Take the BC Ferries mid-morning sailing from Comox to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast. Prior to any European settlement in the area, it was inhabited by many Native American peoples and was used as a landing spot for gold prospectors coming from Vancouver Island who were threading their way to the Fraser River to find quick fortune before the creation of the Cariboo Road.
The Powell River area is the traditional home to the Tla'Amin nation of the Coast Salish people, who still reside there to this day in their traditional village of Sliammon.
From Powell River, drive south to Saltery Bay where another ferry will take you over to Earls Cove. Plan to arrive in Saltery Bay for the mid-afternoon sailing. The road hugs the coast in many places and there are good spots to stop for photographs and to admire the scenery. If you've decided to break this stretch into a two day journey, we recommend you stay at one of the many campgrounds along Highway 101 between Earls Cove and Gibsons. You may even like this area so much that you decide to extend your journey another day. Should you decide to do so, we recommend a boat cruise with Sunshine Coast Tours into the Princess Louisa Inlet from the Backeddy Marina in Egmont.
The road ends at Langdale where you will need to board another BC ferry to take you to Horseshoe Bay.
Day 11 - Fly Vancouver to UK
Drop off your RV at CanaDream in Delta today and fly back to the UK or continue on the next leg of your journey.
Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel, Vancouver
Located in the heart of Vancouver, this family-friendly hotel is a favourite for sports fans & theatre goers. The hotel is just two blocks from BC Place Stadium, home of the BC Lions, and just three blocks from Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks. The hotel is also close to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Centre for the Performing Arts, Vancouver Playhouse, and Orpheum Theatre.
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