Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner, which means many people are likely planning a vacation to Vancouver Island. With a number of different resorts and restaurants on the Island, no one knows more about enjoying Vancouver Island than the Oak Bay Marine Group, which is why we’ve assembled this guide. We want to share our knowledge with you so you can get the most out of your vacation. Follow our tips below to learn everything you need to know about travelling to Vancouver Island.
Planning Your Trip
Read Traveller Reviews
Websites that allow users to post reviews of hotels, restaurants and other attractions they’ve visited are a great resource for travellers who are trying to decide where to stay on their trip. By far the largest of these sites is TripAdvisor, but Yelp, Urbanspoon and OpenTable are all great resources for reviewing accommodation and restaurants. Here are a few tips when reading reviews:
- Most websites give an overall rating based on the number of positive or negative reviews, but make sure to check and see how many reviews an establishment has. The more reviews there are the more credible their overall rating is.
- Check to see how recent the reviews are. Reviews that are over a year old may be out of date.
- Every establishment will have the odd negative review. Read these carefully to determine whether these incidents were single bad experiences or consistent trends.
Getting to Vancouver Island
There are two ways to get to Vancouver Island: By air or by sea. Here’s a rundown of both your options.
- BC Ferries: For those who want to drive their own vehicle to their destination, or don’t want to pay the extra money for a flight, BC Ferries is your best option. There are three different routes that leave from Vancouver, two to Nanaimo and one to Victoria. Travel times range from 1.5 to 2 hours. Travellers can either walk on or drive on. For more information, go to www.bcferries.com.
- Flying: The benefit of flying is speed and convenience. It will cost a little more, but travellers can reach their destination in as little as twenty minutes. There are a number of flights available from Vancouver, Seattle and other mainland locations. Here are some of your options if you plan on flying to Vancouver Island: Pacific Coastal, Kenmore Air, Harbour Air Seaplanes, Helijet
Once You Get Here
Visitor Information Centres
There are a number of visitor information centres located on Vancouver Island. Look for this symbol displayed along highways to find helpful information, professional counselling and a wealth of travel literature.
Places to Go
There are a number of tourist attractions on Vancouver Island that are fun for the whole family. Here are our top five picks of places you should visit while you’re here:
- Butchart Gardens: The Butchart Gardens is one of the world's premier show gardens, and a designated National Historic Site of Canada. Located in Brentwood Bay, near Victoria, the gardens receive close to a million visitors each year and are world renowned. They’re simply a must-see for any gardening enthusiast. For more information go to www.butchartgardens.com.
- Royal BC Museum: Founded in 1886 in Victoria, the Royal British Columbia Museum tells the story of the province through a variety of permanent galleries and featured exhibitions. Learn about BC’s natural history, First Nations people, and modern history, or enjoy a film at the IMAX theatre. For more information go to royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.
- Cathedral Grove: Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park near Port Alberni, is an untouched old-growth forest. Visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, some of which are more than 800 years old. For more information go to www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/macmillan/.
- Wild Pacific Trail: The Wild Pacific Trail is a network of paths around Ucluelet tracing the rugged shoreline and offering panoramic views of the Broken Group Islands. The trail winds through ancient rainforests, with giant windswept trees, ferns, mosses, nurse logs as well as birds and other forest creatures. For more information go to www.wildpacifictrail.com.
Campbell River Museum: Learn the history of North Vancouver Island at this popular museum. Exhibits include First Nations, Pioneer Life, Sport Fishing, Logging and more. An extensive native mask collection is also on display, and souvenirs are available at the gift shop. For more information go to www.crmuseum.ca.
Things to Do
There’s always something fun to do on Vancouver Island. Here are our top five favourite local activities that will keep you entertained while you’re here:
- Fishing: Vancouver Island has some of the best fishing in all of North America. Salmon, halibut, bottom fish and more are all plentiful along the east and west coasts of the island. The area offers year-round sport fishing opportunities, and there are plenty of guided fishing options for visitors looking to test their skills out on the local waters.
- Wildlife Tours: Vancouver Island is home to a wide array of stunning wildlife, including bears, eagles, seals, sea lions and more. Take advantage of the variety of wild life tours available on the Island and see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.
- Whale Watching Tours: If it’s whales you’re after then Vancouver Island is the place to be. Orcas, humpbacks and grey whales can all be seen from various locations on the island. Whale watching tours are one of the most popular activities on the Island and get you up close to these majestic creatures.
- Camping and RVing: Vancouver Island has an abundance of campgrounds located near the ocean and lakes. Whether it’s beachside fun or a trek through the wilderness you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here. If you’re looking for something a little less rugged you can try one of the many RV resorts that are found on the Island as well.
- Kayaking: Kayaking through the waters surrounding Vancouver Island is a great way to view the local scenery and wildlife. Kayak rentals are readily available and make for the perfect outdoor activity on a sunny day.
Our Resorts and Restaurants
Are you planning a trip to Vancouver Island? The Oak Bay Marine Group operates a variety of resorts and restaurants on the Island that will help you build your dream vacation.
Nestled on the pristine shores of Vancouver Island, Painter’s Lodge offers world-class BC salmon fishing, thrilling wildlife and whale watching tours, breathtaking scenery and all the amenities you’d expect from a traditional resort. The property also includes two restaurants, Legends Dining Room and the Tyee Pub. A free water taxi travels between Painter’s Lodge and its sister resort, April Point Resort & Spa.
April Point Resort & Spa brings you into the heart of BC’s coastal paradise. This is where breathtaking scenery, vibrant marine life and the laid-back pace of the islands come together to create an incredible vacation. Activities include fishing, wildlife tours, whale watching, kayaking and scooter and bike rentals. The property also features an Aveda spa and the April Point Dining Room.
Enjoy the excitement of the west coast of Vancouver Island at the Canadian Princess Resort in Ucluelet. This British Columbia fishing lodge is the perfect place to gather your friends, family or co-workers for an unforgettable fishing adventure. Whale watching tours are also available from the resort.
Located in beautiful Metchosin, BC, Pedder Bay is the perfect family getaway for those who love the outdoors and enjoy fishing, boating and other marine activities. In addition to the RV resort, the property features a full service marina facility that includes a fuel dock, three-lane boat launch ramp, boat rentals and guided fishing charters, gear rental and a tackle shop.
Enjoy the fresh tastes of the West Coast in a spectacular waterfront setting at the Marina Restaurant. This award-winning establishment is a local favourite for delicious seafood, regional cuisine, Sunday Brunch and sushi.
Call 1-800-665-7090 to book your trip!