Canada self-drive itinerary: Whistler & the Pacific Coast

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Duration (in days): 7

From: Vancouver

To: Vancouver

From

£900

Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Overview

This 7-day self-drive helps you explore western Canada from the well-known resort of Whistler, across Horseshoe Bay to Tofino on Vancouver Island. 

Drive along the scenic ‘Sea to Sky’ Highway and make the most of wildlife-spotting opportunities on the ferry crossing to Vancouver Island and included whale-watching cruise. An ideal trip for families, couples of groups who appreciate wildlife and the natural scenery.

Your first stop is Whistler; this alpine resort nestled between the Whistler and Backcomb mountains offers a whole host of activities all year round, in the summer months you can go hiking, enjoy water sports and mountain top dining, in winter, of course, it is all about skiing, snowboarding and other snow-based activities. From here you will head to Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park home to miles of pristine beaches, from here you will take part in a whale watching cruise through Clayoquot Sound witnessing spectacular scenery and a hugely diverse range of wildlife. Finally, it's over to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria where you can spend your time exploring the shops and cafes and enjoying high tea!

Highlights

  • Drive the scenic ‘Sea to Sky’ highway
  • Ride the gondola in Whistler for spectacular aerial views
  • Spot grey whales, sea lions, porpoises, killer whales, puffins and bald eagles on a whale watching cruise
  • Discover rainforest and pristine beaches close to Tofino
  • Explore Victoria, including the Butchart Gardens
Whistler and Canada's Pacific Coast | map
Itinerary

 

 

Itinerary in brief:

  • 2 nights Whistler
  • 2 nights Tofino
  • 2 nights Victoria

Day 1:   Vancouver to Whistler 

Today you will pick up your car hire, and depart Vancouver along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway, heading to Whistler, the full hourney should take around 3 hours not including your camera stops of course! Highlights along the way include a stop at Shannon Falls, a cascading waterfall, and also Stawamus Chief Rock where climbers from all over the world migrate to climb the granite cliffs.

Once you arrive in Whistler, you will check into your hotel for your two nights stay.  


Day 2:  Whistler

Whistler is an alpine resort nestled between the world-renowned Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Whilst you’re here you can enjoy an extensive range of summer activities, from golf, to water activities, to hiking, to mountain-top dining.

We recommend taking the Whistler Gondola which connects rises to over 2,100 metres via Whistler’s premier open chairlift. At the top of the Peak Chair, you’ll be greeted by an unbelievable view of glaciers, extinct volcanoes and snow-capped peaks.


Day 3:  Whistler to Tofino

Today you will travel back down the Sea to Sky Highway to Horseshoe Bay, where you’ll get to sail to Vancouver Island. Once you have reached Vancouver Island, you’ll head west to Tofino, taking a scenic route across the Island.

En-route, make a stop at Cathedral Grove where you can visit the 800 year old Douglas Firs and Cedars, and also Sproat Lake, where you can see the world’s two largest water-bombers, used to put out forest fires.

The final stretch to Tofino takes you through Sutton Pass and the Sawtooth Range of the Cascade Mountains. After this long but interesting journey, you will check into your hotel in Tofino for a 2 night stay.


Day 4:  Tofino & Pacific Rim National Park

The first part of your day is free for you to explore – perhaps you could walk along the famed Long Beach, with its miles of pristine beach and pounding surf, or discover the rain forests on one of the many well maintained trails in the area.

Mid-afternoon it’s time to embark on your 3 hour whale watching cruise through Clayoquot Sound, revealing sensational scenery, and wildlife such as grey whales, sea lions, porpoises and killer whales. The area is also renowned for its variety of birds including tufted puffins and bald eagles.


Day 5:  Tofino to Victoria

Travel to the East Coast of Vancouver Island today approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes drive, to Victoria. A great stop on the way is the artist community of Chemainus where you can see the giant murals on the exterior walls around the town.

Quw’utsun’ Heritage Village is another interesting place to stop, and will provide you with an insight into the lives of the people of the northwest coast (seasonal opening hours, so please enquire).


Day 6:  Victoria

Enjoy a day wandering around Victoria, taking in its turn-of-the-century architecture and British traditions (High tea is a Victoria tradition!). Shops and cafes are in abundance, so explore to your heart’s content.

We really love Butchart Gardens and its 50 acres of floral displays and beautiful colours – it is well worth a visit and a perfect way to spend an afternoon.


Day 7:  Victoria to Vancouver

It is now time to leave Vancouver Island and travel back to Vancouver, via the ferry from Swartz Bay. This ferry journey provides wonderful views of the Gulf Islands as you cross the Strait of Georgia to Tsawwassen, where you will continue on to Vancouver, where you will drop off your hire car.

 
Info

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements; please contact us with your dates and requests and we'll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

The best times to travel in British Colombia, Canada are from March to May and September to November, this is when you’ll find milder temperatures and bargain hotel rates. May until August is peak season with prices being at a premium and lots of tourist visitors, the summer brings beautiful weather however and is a very popular season to travel to this region. December to February is winter and temperatures can drop below freezing, for winter sports fans it is worth braving the weather to take part in winter sports activities particularly in nearby Whistler.

The season runs from April/May to late September/October for the Tyax Resort; itineraries can be arranged for travel outside of this time but you won’t be able to visit the Lodge. Snow chains will be essential for the roads that are open!

What's included: 

  • 6 nights’ accommodation
  • Private transfer from Vancouver Airport to hotel
  • 7 days car hire 
  • Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler
  • Whale watching tour in Tofino
  • BC Ferries tolls for vehicle & passengers
  • Admission to the Butchart Gardens
  • Travel documentation, including personalised maps and driving directions

Not included: 

  • Road tolls and parking fees
  • Activities, other than those mentioned in inclusions
  • Meals
  • Optional additional car rental services
  • National Park Entrance Fee
  • Tips and gratuities
Accommodation

This package includes 6 nights 3*  standard accommodation.

Accommodation in this category includes:

  • Aava Whistler Hotel

  • Chateau Victoria 

  • Best Western Tin Wis Resort 

 

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