Posted by Sean Thompson

Great Nature Escapes On Vancouver Island

Those of us fortunate enough to live on Vancouver Island are generally a pretty grateful bunch. We’re living in nature’s playground with rugged mountains, glacier-fed streams, an abundance of rivers and lakes, thousand year old trees and dazzling beaches that hug our coastline. Our forests and highlands are home to abundant wildlife, while our waters teem with many species of fish. Look up and you might spot a bald headed eagle.

Many of you may be considering spending your vacation time close to home this year. The falling loonie is forcing many people to rethink their getaway plans. The low cost of fuel lures us to take road trips.

Here are a few destinations on Vancouver Island that are well worth the drive up Island.

CAMPING – Central Vancouver Island

Central Vancouver Island offers plenty of choices for an outdoor camping experience. Rathtrevor, Little Qualicum and Englishman River Falls are all within Provincial Parks. Rathtrevor has extensive sandy, ocean beaches and offers campers some walk-in only tenting spots as an option along with traditional sites. Little Qualicum and Englishman River Falls both have forested hiking trails, natural pools to swim in and quiet campsites. Setting up home base at any one of these campgrounds gives you easy access to Parksville for supplies, golfing and great seafood restaurants. Make a day trip to Coombs to enjoy the shops and the goats nibbling on the roof and then take a stroll through Cathedral Grove and see some 1000 yr old Douglas Firs.

HIKING – West Coast Trail

This trail is an amazing coastal hike within Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It’s rated as one of the world’s top hiking trails. Trek along it and you’ll meet people from all over the world. The trail starts in Bamfield and runs south to Port Renfrew. Hikers can start the trail at either end. The trail traverses forests, bogs and beaches. Hikers ride cable car suspensions and get across some smaller waterways by crossing on fallen logs. Expect to spend about 5 days on the trail to really enjoy it. You’ll encounter spectacular scenery and you’ll sleep well every night. Book as early as you can.

Shuttles run between both ends of the trail so that you can get back to your car. Check out the West Coast Express if you don’t plan on taking a vehicle.

SURFING – Long Beach

Long Beach is the largest and longest beach in Pacific Rim National Park and is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The beach is well known for its consistent surf. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and a great place to experience the majesty of the west coast. In nearby Tofino, you can take surfing lessons and rent equipment. Long Beach has also become a popular destination for winter storm watching. When you’re too tired to surf you can hike, relax with a book on the beach, take a boat tour, go whale watching, visit an art gallery or sample local fare at a great restaurant. Accommodation choices include camping, hostels, B&Bs and mid-range to high-end inns.

Should you choose to explore any of these destinations make sure you book early. We’re expecting a bumper tourism year, due to our falling loonie. Canada is on sale for our American friends, including all of their favourite travel gear brands at Adventure Clothing.

We hope you give yourself the time to explore some of the natural wonders close to home.