Where ocean meets mountain, often within a short drive, ride or paddle of each other, you know outdoor adventures can’t be far.
Welcome to Vancouver Island!
Swoop through the treetops with attractions such as Nanaimo’s WildPlay, where activities range from bungy jumping over the Nanaimo River to a Monkido obstacle course through the forest canopy. A second WildPlay Monkido course is also open in Victoria’s West Shore communities.
Near Sooke, also on the South Island, AdrenaLine offers an ATV ride to the top of a thrilling zipline course, featuring two suspension bridges and eight lines across 100 forested acres.
Prefer to stay one two feet? From short day hikes to longer adventures, the Island offers hiking options from top to bottom. East Sooke Park, Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and West Coast Trail are great choices on the south-west coast. On the North Island, Strathcona Park and the Cape Scott Trail are popular destinations. In Nanaimo, more than 200 parks and trails mean outdoor activities are always close at hand.Check with the local Visitor Centre for ideas.
Biking is another excellent way to explore the wild West Coast. Excellent two-wheel destinations include the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails that wind their way through Greater Victoria, and the summer mountain bike thrills that come to Mt. Washington. Cumberland, in the Comox Valley, has earned a reputation for its mountain biking trails, as has Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley. A variety of special bike events are planned in communities up and down the Island – see the calendar for more information.
Anglers from around the globe have the Island as a must-visit destination, not only for the storied salmon, but also for the massive halibut, spot prawns, crab and other delicacies. Outfitters, charters and boat rentals are available from most Island communities. Several hatcheries and nature houses offer a chance to learn more about the lifecycle of the salmon, while in Campbell River, there’s even the opportunity to swim with the fish. Each fall, the salmon run at Victoria’s Goldstream Park draws thousands to witness the salmon’s amazing return.
Paddlers will be amazed by the breathtaking islands and shorelines to explore, with options for everyone from beginners to more experienced kayakers. As West Coast weather can be changeable and tides tricky, be sure to check with local experts before heading out.
Others prefer to leave the driving to someone else and set out on a whale or wildlife watching cruise to witness the breathtaking creatures that make their home here.
Beneath the water, Vancouver Island has been blessed with what Jacques Cousteau called some of the best cold water diving waters in the world, thanks to their clarity and abundant sea life. In addition to the natural underwater features, a variety of artificial reefs have created an additional attraction in communities such as Sidney and Nanaimo.
A growing interest in caving is bringing more and more visitors to the Central and North Island. Excellent opportunities await at the Horne Lake Caves, offering family excursions to more adventurous outings, at the extensive cave formations in Gold River, and in the North Island, including Huson Regional Park Caves near Zaballos.
For golfers, it doesn’t get any better than Vancouver Island, where year-round play is second-to-none. Whether you prefer the challenge of championship courses or something more family-friendly, virtually every community has a course to suit.