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Circle Tours: West Coasting on Vancouver Island

Victoria Inner harbour view

Victoria Inner Harbour View

Arrival Airport: Victoria International (YYJ)
Overnight Stops: Victoria – Port Alberni – Tofino – Campbell River – Nanaimo – Victoria

What to See & Do on Vancouver Island?

Vancouver Island is a world away form the rest of Canada, and not just because its a ferry ride (or plane ride) away. It has a mild year-round climate, with well settled eastern coast and very rugged west shore, with old growth forests and very accessible Pacific Rim National Park. First Nations are abound as soon as you get away from Victoria, and British colonial traditions are easy to see in various places around Victoria.

Taking the Tour: West Coasting

View of various Ferries in Victoria's Innner HarbourArrive in Victoria (1)  at Victoria International (YYJ) Airport, and drive southwest from the airport to Butchart Gardens at Brentwood Bay and catch a short ferry to Mill Bay before continuing north along the Island Highway. You can see pretty Island towns like

DuncanChemainus, and Ladysmith before passing commercial center and ferry terminus to the mainland, Nanaimo

Past Parksville the landscape becomes more rugged, so head inland past Cooms to Port Alberni (2), where you can tour the McLean Mill National Historic Site or ride a restored steam locomotive on the Alberni Pacific Railway.
From here drive west and visit the quaint town of Ucluelet (3) with easy access to golden beaches, secluded coves, forest trails and the natural wonder of the Pacific Rim National Reserve Park. End the day in the surfing town of Tofino, near Clayoquot Sound which was recognized by the UN as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Tofino BC signpost with Mark

Tofino BC signpost with Mark


Head back east then work your way north to the towns of Comox, with a major Armed Forces base, and Courtney, before reaching the vacation paradise of Campbell River (4), for an overnight stay.

Continue south along the Strait of Georgia to land in picturesque Nanaimo (5), known as the bathtub racing capital of the world. Take a leisurely drive south through See how wooden boats were built at the Wooden Boat Society, visit the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre in Cowichan Bay and enjoy the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan.

Nanaimo Marina View -sliver (Mark ruthenberg)

Nanaimo Marina View -sliver (Mark ruthenberg)

View of tidal waters and bouys, near SidneyThe next day is a drive back to Victoria (6), the provincial capital of British Columbia, which has a number of wonderful attractions. Tour the Inner Harbour, where you can see the Wax Museum and the Undersea Gardens or hop on a boat for some whale watching.

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through nearby Beacon Hill, home of the Emily Carr House. You can also see Canada’s west coast naval base at Esquimalt and the pretty seaside community of Sidney before catching your plane home from this amazing trip.

West Coasting Tour Map

Arrival Airport: Victoria International (YYJ)
Overnight Stops: Victoria – Port Alberni – Tofino – Campbell River – Nanaimo – Victoria