Best of Vancouver Island

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Vancouver Island
Pasley Island near Vancouver
Guide to British Columbia's Regions

British Colombia has the perfect trip for everyone, any time of year. From cosmopolitan Vancouver to the vast tracks of wilderness in the north, from wine tasting in the rolling hills of the Okanagan to salmon-fishing in wild waters of Haida Gwaii, there really is something for everyone. To help you figure out your perfect trip, we've broken down the main regions for you to consider.

Hiking through Pacific Rim National Park
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino Road Trip - 6 Days
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino Road Trip - 6 Days

Starting and ending in Vancouver, this road trip takes you to the rugged coastline of Pacific Rim National Park. Base yourself in a wilderness lodge or cozy B&B along the coast and spend three days exploring the beaches and rainforest around Tofino and Ucluelet as well as the remote islands of Clayoquot Sound. This trip is ideal for those looking to combine beautiful coastline with outdoor adventure. 

Gordon Bay Park on Cowichan Lake
Map of Pacific Marine Circle Route - 4 Days
Pacific Marine Circle Route - 4 Days

This quick trip gets you into the wilderness and wild coastline of Vancouver Island and is only a short drive away from Victoria. After exploring a number of beautiful beaches at the start, you'll overnight in Port Renfrew, known for being the jumping-off point of the famous West Coast Trail. From there, veer north through some of the island's tallest trees before circling back through the vineyards and lakes just north of Victoria. 

Waterfalls on Gordon River near Port Renfrew
Map of Pacific Marine Circle Route - 5 Days
Pacific Marine Circle Route - 5 Days

This short road trip takes you off the beaten path to explore Vancouver Island's southern coastline, following former logging roads that have recently been paved. You'll have short drives each day so you can spend more time exploring nature—old-growth rainforests, remote beaches, hiking trails, as well as smaller historical communities.

Suspension bridge on the Juan de Fuca Trail near Mystic Beach
Map of Pacific Marine Circle Route - 6 Days
Pacific Marine Circle Route - 6 Days

Starting and ending in Victoria, this loop follows the southern coastline of Vancouver Island before veering north through old-growth rainforest accessed by former logging roads. The reward? Countless remote beaches, some of the largest trees on the island, and numerous great hiking trails. This is the perfect itinerary for getting off the beaten path in a short amount of time.

Sunset over Long Beach near Tofino
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino by Flight - 4 Days
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino by Flight - 4 Days

This short adventure to the Pacific Rim is a great way to escape the city for a few days. To make the most of your time, you'll catch a floatplane flight from downtown Vancouver which takes you directly to Tofino and to your lodge along the coast. Within the park, you can hike, bike, paddleboard, or sea kayak your way through the coastal rainforest and island chains. In the evenings, choose from a variety of world-class restaurants, galleries, and local craft breweries.

Rainforest hike in the Pacific Rim
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 11 Days

Explore the best of British Columbia's coastline by car and ferry on this 11-day road trip. Starting in Vancouver, head to the Sunshine Coast to explore the fjords, beaches, and seaside communities before ending your trip with three days along Vancouver Island's rugged Pacific Rim. This itinerary is a great way to combine outdoor adventure while exploring local culture and maritime history. 

Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet, Pacific Rim
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 10 Days

With 10 days, split your time between the sun-warmed beaches of the Sunshine Coast and the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim. You'll get a great feel for Pacific Coast culture as well as the dramatic landscape that defines it. Finally, you'll have a day at the start and end of your trip to enjoy great restaurants in Vancouver as well as the small provincial capital of Victoria. 

The Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 8 Days

With 8 days, this is the minimum amount of time you'll want to explore two of British Columbia's most beautiful coastlines without feeling too rushed. First, you'll have three days to explore the hidden coves and seaside communities of the Sunshine Coast. From there, you'll catch a ferry to Vancouver Island for two days in the Pacific Rim, home to some of the best sea-kayaking and coastal trails in the province. The best time to travel this route is from April through October. 

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 8 Days

Get a taste of Vancouver before heading to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Rim National Park. Here, you'll be surrounded by coastal rainforest and beautiful coastline with ample time to explore. Head off on a sea kayaking adventure, spot whales, and enjoy some of Canada's best cuisine in Ucluelet and Tofino. Finally, stop to explore Victoria before heading home.

Buttle Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 9 Days

Circle your way along the beautiful coastline, quaint seaside towns, and First Nation's heritage of British Columbia’s west coast. After a brief stay in Vancouver, you'll hit the road (and ferries) as you explore the Sunshine Coast before heading over to Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim National Park. Here, explore remote islands by kayak and hike through the dense coastal rainforest. Finally, end your trip with some time to enjoy the urban scenes of Victoria and Vancouver. 

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 7 Days

Spend a week combining the urban highlights of Vancouver and Victoria with the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Rim National Park. This itinerary takes you by car and ferry to the west coast of Vancouver Island, famous for its coastal rainforest, whale watching, and access to some of the most rugged and magical coastline in Canada. Relax in a lodge by the beach and choose from a wide range of adventures each day. 

Sunset on the Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 9 Days

Experience the wild coastline of Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim. With three full days to explore the park, you can make day trips to remote islands or simply relax on the beach, sticking to the coastal trails. You'll also have a few days to experience Victoria and Vancouver's urban scene, great restaurants, and local shops.

Bella Coola's shoreline at sunset
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 20 Days

With 20 days, get ready for a true adventure into the remote and sparsely populated landscape of the Chilcotin Plateau and Great Bear Rainforest. After taking the iconic Sea-to-Sky Highway north into Gold Rush Country, you'll veer west on Highway 20 for one of the most memorable drives of your life. Here, the frontier spirit converges with one of the best-preserved and most densely populated wildlife habitats of the Pacific Northwest. Finally, end your trip at one of the cozy coastal lodges along the Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island.

Broken Group Islands in the Pacific Rim
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino by Flight - 6 Days
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino by Flight - 6 Days

After a day in Vancouver, catch a scenic floatplane flight to the west coast of Vancouver Island where ancient rainforests, remote islands, and abundant wildlife await. You'll have three days to enjoy the Pacific Rim National Park, sea kayaking and hiking by day and delighting in the local great restaurants by night. Head back to Vancouver by floatplane, as well, before returning back home from Vancouver.

The Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 14 Days

With two weeks, take your time as you explore the most beautiful spots along the southern coast of British Columbia. Starting with the seaside communities of the Sunshine Coast, you'll wind your way through hidden coves and inlets over to Vancouver Island. Here, you'll divide the remainder of your time between two outdoor paradises—the mountainous Strathcona Provincial Park and the storm-swept coastline of the Pacific Rim. 

Long Beach near Tofino
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 12 Days

This route is the perfect introduction to British Columbia’s west coast, combining ocean-based activities with rugged mountain trails and vibrant coastal communities. Starting and ending in Vancouver, you'll wind your way by car and ferry along the Sunshine Coast before crossing over to Vancouver Island. From there, you'll base yourself in the two beautiful nature reserves of Strathcona Provincial Park and the Pacific Rim.

Aerial view of Tofino along the Pacific Rim
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 13 Days

Starting and ending in Vancouver, you'll follow a coastal circle route through the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island that focuses on the best outdoor adventures and most idyllic communities. On the Sunshine Coast, you'll find relaxed communities with great breweries and restaurants, while on Vancouver Island you'll end your adventure by exploring the remote islands and temperate rainforest of the Pacific Rim. 

The shores of Buttle Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park
Vancouver Island Road Trip: North Island & Pacific Rim - 14 Days

Explore the diverse landscapes of Vancouver Island where you can easily spend days hiking through the backcountry, paddling endless coastline, or relaxing at cozy retreats next to the beach. You'll pass through prime wildlife viewing habitat and have plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and sea kayaking. This is a great route for those looking to experience all that Vancouver Island has to offer without feeling rushed. 

Orca swimming in the Johnstone Strait near Telegraph Cove
Vancouver Island Road Trip: North Island & Pacific Rim - 15 Days

This itinerary includes two of Vancouver Island's best wildlife viewing locations as well as a diverse range of landscapes—from islands to rugged mountains to coastal rainforest. You'll have ample time to explore by paddle and by foot and to relax in cozy lodges perched along the coast. Finally, end your trip in Victoria before heading back to Vancouver for your departure.

Hiking through coastal rainforest in the Pacific Rim
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 5 Days
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 5 Days

This short adventure takes you by floatplane to the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. You'll have close to three days to explore the rugged coastline, walk through ancient rainforest, and head off on a full-day sea kayaking or hiking adventure. At night, relax in a cozy lodge next to the beach and enjoy some of the province's best restaurants in the small villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. 

The dramatic coastline around Bella Coola
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 13 Days

With 13 days, this is the minimum amount of time you'll want to explore the wild and remote Chilcotin Plateau and Great Bear Rainforest without feeling too rushed. Take your time following Highway 20 to Bella Coola along a narrow ribbon of asphalt that winds its way through a sparsely populated wilderness scattered with lakes, historic ranches, and prime grizzly bear and wildlife habitat. Here, you'll discover one of the most unspoiled and spectacular landscapes in North America. Finally, end the trip with a couple of days of relaxation on Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim. 

Garibaldi Provincial Park near Whistler
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 7 Days

Follow the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway to the resort town of Whistler, your base for two days of outdoor adventure. Explore nearby alpine lakes and mountains by day and enjoy great local restaurants and spas by night. After you've had your taste of the mountains, sail to Vancouver Island for two more nights along the windswept coastline around Tofino, surrounded by coastal rainforest. Finally, head to Victoria for your last night in the city.

Views from the Garibaldi Lake hike near Whistler
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 12 Days

Follow this 12-day road trip through British Columbia's Coast Mountains and Vancouver Island. Starting with three days in Vancouver, you'll drive the iconic Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler before crossing the Strait of Georgia to Pacific Rim National Park. Look for whales off the coast of Tofino, surf at Chesterman Beach, and pick up a hiking trail through ancient rainforest to the wave-whipped Pacific Coast.

Pick from the numerous hiking trails around Whistler
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 8 Days

Base yourself in Whistler and the Pacific Rim to get the most out of your 8 days along the coast of British Columbia. This itinerary is designed for those who love the outdoors and want to immerse themselves in two of the region's most popular destinations. In Whistler, you'll find countless hiking and biking trails along with great restaurants, breweries, and spas. In the Pacific Rim, you'll be surrounded by dense coastal rainforest and island chains only accessible by kayak and floatplane. 

Explore the beautiful coastline around Bella Coola
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 16 Days

Spend 16 days driving through some of the most unique and remote wilderness in southern British Columbia. After a quick visit to Vancouver and Whistler, you'll slow down the driving as your make your way on Highway 20 from Gold Rush Country to the coastline of the Great Bear Rainforest. En route, hike, raft, go horseback riding, and take to the sky to fly over one of Canada's largest waterfalls. End your trip with some relaxation and comfort in the Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island.

Bella Coola's shoreline at sunset
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 19 Days

Get ready for a road trip adventure of a lifetime. This route takes you away from the crowds through the remote Chilcotin Plateau and Great Bear Rainforest before ending with some relaxation and comfort on Vancouver Island's west coast. Pass through a vast, raw wilderness dotted with lakes and historic ranches that transforms into dense temperate rainforest that has one of the world's highest concentrations fo grizzly bears.

Brandywine Falls near Whistler
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 9 Days

Combine the mountains and the coast on this 9-day road trip. Starting and ending in Vancouver, you'll first head to the mountains and lakes around Whistler where you'll find countless hiking and biking trails. Then, taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island, you'll have a day on the beach before heading to the Pacific Rim, a beautifully rugged stretch of coastline that's famous for both adventure and relaxation. End your trip with a day to explore the great restaurants and neighborhoods of Victoria.

An old, abandoned cabin near Bella Coola in the Great Bear Rainforest
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 18 Days

This epic road trip takes you into the heart of British Columbia's ranchlands and coastal rainforest, through some of the most accessible remote wilderness from Vancouver. After passing through Whistler and Gold Rush Country, you'll head west along Highway 20. Here, you'll spend less time driving and more time exploring the vast Chilcotin Plateau and trails of the Great Bear Rainforest. Finally, end your trip on Vancouver Island's rugged pacific coast before returning back to Vancouver.

Adult Grizzly Bear spotted at Knight Inlet in the Great Bear Rainforest
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 17 Days

With minimal time in the city, this itinerary focuses on the unique beauty and diverse landscapes of the wild Chilcotin Plateau and the Great Bear Rainforest. After following the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler, you'll head north for a true Canadian adventure across a vast, sparsely populated landscape. From there, it's a full day's ferry sailing to Vancouver Island, where you'll end your trip along the wild coastline of the Pacific Rim.

Windswept coastline of the Pacific Rim
Map of Vancouver Island Road Trip: Salt Spring & Pacific Rim - 11 Days
Vancouver Island Road Trip: Salt Spring & Pacific Rim - 11 Days

If you love local markets, laid-back island charm, as well as outdoor adventure, this itinerary combines the best of both worlds. First, you'll head to Salt Spring Island (imagine Matha's Vineyard meets the Pacific Coast) where you'll stay in a beautiful B&B and check out the local art galleries, orchards, and wineries. After Salt Spring, head to the Pacific Rim, a wild stretch of coastline interspersed with beaches and backed by coastal rainforest along Vancouver Island's eastern shore.  Here, spend your days sea kayaking, hiking, and exploring the coastline.

The remote and pristine Desolation Sound, home to some of BC's warmest waters
Outdoor Adventure along BC's Coastline - 14 Days

This two-week road trip takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. You'll base yourself in four main locations: Desolation Sound, Strathcona Park, the Pacific Rim, and Salt Spring Island. Activities range from sea kayaking to waterfalls hikes to exploring the galleries and farmers' markets of Salt Spring Island.

Temperate rainforest hugs Stanley Park's Seawall Promenade outside downtown Vancouver
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 11 Days

On this 11-day itinerary, you'll explore the alpine lakes and dramatic peaks of the Coastal Range, the old-growth rainforests of Vancouver Island, and the rough-and-tumble shoreline of the Pacific Rim. Start with two nights in Vancouver before dedicating a week to the outdoors on Vancouver Island where you can go whale watching, stroll driftwood-strewn beaches, and take in the Victorian-era architecture of the province's capital.

Explore the beautiful coastline around Bella Coola
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 14 Days

Two weeks is just enough time to complete a road trip through the vast Chilcotin Plateau and Great Bear Rainforest without feeling too rushed. With relatively short drives each day, most of your time will be spent in the outdoors, where you can truly appreciate this unique and dramatic corner of British Columbia. This route is best suited for those who are looking for an adventure away from the crowds. 

The turquoise waters of Garibaldi Lake near Whistler
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 6 Days

This quick adventure features two of coastal British Columbia's most popular destinations—Whistler and the Pacific Rim. Skipping Vancouver, you'll head straight to Whistler for two days of exploring the mountains, lakes, and stunning outdoor scenery. From there, it's a long day of driving and sailing over to Tofino and the Pacific Rim on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Here, follow trails through coastal rainforest and along storm-swept coastlines or simply relax in your beach-side cottage while enjoying the views. It's also the perfect place to spot whales while sea kayaking to remote islands.

Explore the beautiful coastline around Bella Coola
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 15 Days

This itinerary takes you through four regions in 15 days, with the bulk of your time spent exploring the vast wilderness of the Chilcotin Plateau and the Great Bear Rainforest. Designed for those seeking to get away from it all and have a truly memorable experience, you'll pass through some of the most diverse and unique landscapes of British Columbia that are largely devoid of human settlement. Finally, end the trip with a couple days of relaxation in the famous Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island. 

Fog enveloping the rugged coastline of the Pacific Rim
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 13 Days

Visit two of the most popular destinations along coastal British Columbia—the alpine paradise around Whistler and the dramatic storm-swept coastline of Tofino and the Pacific Rim. You'll by following the iconic Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish and Whistler before taking the ferry to Vancouver Island. On the island, spend three days exploring the coast by foot and by kayak before visiting Victoria, British Columbia's provincial capital.

Amphitrite Point Lighthouse near Ucluelet in the Pacific Rim
Whistler & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 10 Days

With 10 days, you'll have plenty of time to explore the mountains around Whistler and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island. Starting in Vancouver, follow the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish and Whistler where you'll base yourself for a few days. From there, take the ferry to Vancouver Island where you can hike, sea kayak, or take day adventures to remote islands and hot springs. Finally, wrap up your adventure in the provincial capital of Victoria.

Explore the beautiful coastline around Bella Coola
Great Bear Rainforest & Chilcotin Coast Road Trip - 11 Days

This itinerary is very fast-paced, designed for those who want to experience the Great Bear Rainforest and Chilcotin Plateau in a short amount of time. You'll have 2-4 hours of driving each day, with two nights in the beautiful Bella Coola Valley to unwind and recharge before taking the long ferry sailing to Vancouver Island. You'll also get a brief feel of the historical Gold Rush Trail, as you overnight in Cache Creek.