Vancouver Island, nestled tightly along the lower south-western coast of British Columbia, is rich in history and ripe with opportunities for outdoor adventure. Though only 300 miles from tip to tip, roughly the size of Holland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands offer a lifetime of wilderness and urban exploration.
In the very British capital city of Victoria, you can have high tea followed by a wild Zodiac ride in search of whales. The pastoral Gulf Islands include quiet beaches, stunning rainforests, arts and crafts communities and farmers’ markets.
Speaking of whales - if you want to see whales in their natural habitat then Vancouver Island is the place to be. One of the most exciting outdoor experiences is a tour to see the Orcas. About eighty of these huge, glossy, black and white marine mammals, also called killer whales, lie in the waters off the South Island coastline. Although they live in these waters year-round, the whales are most readily seen between May and October when they come closest to the shore in pursuit of salmon, the staple of a killer whale’s diet.
Tofino and Ucluelet are two gems secluded on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. In mid-spring, Grey whales begin their annual migration, passing right by Tofino. From mid-March to mid-April, Tofino and Ucluelet host the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which is both a fascinating and educational event.
Port Hardy, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is another favourite for whale watching.