Discover the highlights of Vancouver Island at your own pace. This 7-day round-trip self-drive from Vancouver offers unique access to British Columbia’s best scenery and wildlife with the included ferry crossings, floatplane tour, whale watching and bear watching. Explore Canada’s western coast and beaches on this week-long getaway which is ideal for lovers of the Great Outdoors!
This trip begins with a short drive from Vancouver up to Horseshoe Bay, where you will then take the 2 hour and 45 minute ferry to Vancouver Island.
Once you drive off the ferry, you’ll head north through Vancouver Island’s second largest city, Nanaimo, known as the Harbour City, and also Parksville, which is the beginning of Beach Country. Your destination today is the city of Campbell River, historically known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”.
Once you reach Campbell River, we really recommend visiting the world famous Discovery Pier, where you can watch the enormous cruise ships venture up the Inside Passage as they head for Alaska.
Your destination today is inaccessible by road, so instead you’ll get to experience it by float plane. It’s a thrilling 30 minute journey that brings you to the mouth of the Glendale River where your accommodation for tonight - Knight Inlet Lodge - floats on large Cedar booms.
After you arrive, you’ll be heading out on a bear and wildlife viewing tour, with hopes of spotting the grizzly bears that frequent this area. This really is a spectacular spot, set amidst the snow-capped peaks of the rugged coastline.
This morning you’ll have the opportunity to return to the bear viewing platforms, (don’t forget your camera!) before departing via float plane back to Campbell River. Once you collect your car, it’s time to head southwest to Tofino, which is located on the rugged West Coast.
En-route to Tofino, stop at Cathedral Grove. Here you will find the ‘Mars Water-Bombers’ at Sproat Lake. These are the world’s two largest water-bombers, which are used for putting out forest fires. You can also admire the splendour of 800 year old Douglas Firs and Cedar trees.
After your pit-stop at Cathedral Grove, drive through the majestic Sutton Pass and the Sawtooth Range of the Cascade Mountains, before arriving in Tofino in time to enjoy the wonderful beaches. This is a beautiful scenic drive, so take your time and enjoy the views!
Spend the day in Tofino, where you have a choice of two cruises.
Depending on your preference you can pick either the Whale Watch cruise where you head off in search of grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions, sea birds, and the resident bald eagles, or the Bear Viewing cruise, where you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for black bears who head for the closest food source – the ocean!
Your drive today will take you back to the East Coast of Vancouver Island, making your way south to Victoria.
You’ll have the opportunity for a few stops along the way – the artist community of Chemainus is well worth a visit, for the giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town. Another stop is Duncan, known as the “City of Totems”. We loved its heritage buildings and its unique shops, and it’s a perfect stop for lunch!
This morning you’ll board an exhilarating round trip cruise in search of orcas, minke whales, grey whales, porpoises, harbour seals, and other marine wildlife.
The afternoon is free for you to discover Victoria and its turn of the century architecture, British traditions (high tea is a speciality!), and visit its vast array of shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Leaving Victoria, a short and very scenic drive brings you to Butchart Gardens. Here you will find 55 acres of wonderful floral displays, where you can wander through and take in the sights and smells.
Continue north until you reach Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, where you will embark on a 90 minute ferry ride to Tsawwassen. You’ll get to soak up the views of the Gulf Islands as you cross the Strait of Georgia.
Once you arrive back on the mainland, drive on to Vancouver to finish your trip.
The season for this itinerary runs from June to October.
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.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
This trip includes 6 nights in comfortable 3* accommodation.
Hotels in this category include: