A land of extremes. Vast wilderness, exceptional walking and hiking trails, rugged coastlines, cozy beaches, abundant wildlife (furry, feathery and finned), quaint towns, small harbors, golfing, world class wines, beers and spirits, farmers markets, culinary delights, indigenous cultures, marvelous gardens, boutique inns, seaside lodges and elegant hotels.
This is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
The island is home to just under 900,000 residents, with nearly half living in the metropolitan area of greater Victoria. It is the largest island on the western coast of the America’s, Canada’s second most populous island and the capital of British Columbia.
Victoria has always been a popular cruise stop, for good reason. A beautiful water front and walkable city, there is no shortage of things to do, from wandering through the spectacular Butchart Gardens (a former dilapidated limestone quarry) and the quirky Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of houses to exploring the iconic Fairmont Empress and enjoying the exploding craft beverage scene. The streets and buildings are full of character, old world charm and history.
Photos 2-3 courtesy of S. Snelling
This region includes Victoria, stretches west to Port Renfrew and north to Swartz Bay. Port Renfrew is a sports fishing hotspot, where guides can help you find salmon and halibut. Other must see spots include the tidal pools at Botanical Beach and the old growth giants Avatar Grove. Swartz Bay is where you’ll find the ferry terminal, and the airport is nearby.
Botany Bay and Botanical Beach - photos courtesy of S. Snelling
Off the coast to the north east of Swartz Bay are the Gulf Islands and Gulf Islands National Park, where you’ll find a year round resident orca pod. The islands each have their personalities, but are uncrowded and laid back where you can meander through galleries, explore farmers markets, enjoy fabulous restaurants or get active on bikes, kayaks, walking trails or playing a round of golf.
Gulf Islands and Chemainis Mural
For art lovers, Cowichan is for you. This region (just above the South Island region) has a vibrant art community including sculptors, painters, woodworkers, potters and glass blowers. Not to be missed: the town of Cowichan Bay, a charming seaside village with floating residences, and Duncan, the City of Totems, with 38 First Nation Totems.
Old Baldy mountain hike - photo courtesy of S. Snelling
Northeast, above Cowichan is the Central Island region, home to Nanaimo, BC’s third oldest city and Qualicum Beach, a beautiful seaside village that overlooks the Salish Sea. Wander old growth forested paths one of the nation’s top 10 gardens.
Mt. Arrowsmith near Nanaimo; Cathedral Grove near Qualicum Beach
Full of “Instagram moments”, the Pacific Rim region has trails, lakes, coastal rainforests and open views of the Pacific. Approximately 5 hours from Victoria, at the end of Highway 4, you’ll be in the jewel spot of this region, Tofino, a top surfing town. Despite its remoteness, Tofino has top accommodations excellent culinary options.
North Central Island
If you are looking for rest and relaxation or outdoor adventure, this region has it. Denby, Hornby, Quadra and Cortes Islands are perfect for urban escapees, with lodges, B&Bs, cafes and bistros. For hiking, kayaking and fly fishing head to Campbell River.
This region comprises the entire northern tip of Vancouver Island, extending from Campbell River north to Port Hardy and west to the Pacific Coast. The North Island’s big attraction? Solitude, First Nations, excellent nature and wildlife photography, whale rich waters and access to the mainland’s grizzly bear habitats.
If you are ready to experience Mother Nature’s most beautiful best, Vancouver Island just might fit the bill.
To learn more about Lakama Luxury Travel,
contact us at 602.540.7338 or email Laurie@lakamatravel.com
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder