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guitarhero1983's avatar

Any advice for road-tripping around Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada?

Asked by guitarhero1983 (135points) July 7th, 2010

I would like to take a roadtrip at the end of July up and down Vancouver Island. Has anyone done this before, and if so, would you recommend doing it? The plan is to start in Nanaimo (take the ferry from Vancouver), then drive north to Port Hardy, go hiking at Cape Scott Provincial Park, then make our way down to Tofino, and then back to Nanaimo. We’d like to camp and hike as much as possible. Would this be a good trip, and does anyone have any recommendations on where to go/stay? I’ve already googled this, and there are not many resources, nor are there many guidebooks on this region. Thanks.

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10 Answers

MaryW's avatar

Write to the Parks of course; but, It would be wise to take a fast course in French with a touring book. It would make the trip fun. Here are some camping sites that might be good:

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Bring lots of money. Things on the island are more expensive than on the mainland.

Also, do not drive into the Pacific!

guitarhero1983's avatar

@MaryW Thanks, but those websites are for Canada’s primary national parks and not really focused on British Columbia, let alone Vancouver Island. And they don’t really speak French in B.C., mainly Quebec and Ontario.
@Dr_Lawrence Do you have any specific suggestions for roadtripping around this island? I’m looking for more specific, helpful responses. Thanks.

breedmitch's avatar

You have to see the Buchart Gardens.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I’m sure the CAA (related to the AAA) will have lots of information available that they will even mail to you if you are a member.

marinelife's avatar

First, it is very rugged once you get to the Western side of the island and head north. So, make sure that you are prepared for emergencies.

They do not speak French on Vancouver Island.

Pacific Rim National Park is absolutely fabulous. Very rugged.

If you spend some time in Tofino, you might rent a boat and go out to Meares Island. It has a trail that you can hike around and it goes through some of the oldest cedars on the planet including the oldest and largest Western Red Cedar and Hemlock. These trees are literally breathtaking. The hike is through old-growth forest and was labeled Easy, but I found it moderate to strenuous in places.

At the other end of the island, but well worth visiting is Ucluelet. It has a couple of good restaurants.

On your way out of Nanaimo, be sure to stop at Cathedral Grove, a large stand of ancient douglas fir.

And don’t forget to eat a Nanaimo Bar, one of the best confections going!

If you wanted to go further afield, you could take the ferry to the Salt Spring Islands, but that is almost another whole trip.

Have fun!

cfrydj's avatar

This is the BC tourism website, it should be helpful.

tranquilsea's avatar

Here is a site for bed and breakfasts all over Vancouver Island.

I’ve never been as far as Cape Scott but my eldest sister got into a bad crowd when she was 14 and by the time she was 15 my mother was frantic to get her out of the lower mainland. Our cousin was one of the families manning the lighthouse at Cape Scott so my sister was shipped there for two years. An eight hour hike out or a helicopter ride were two of the only reasons she stayed. That two years straightened her out.

Make sure you spend time on the beaches. You can find some very interesting things that get moved along the ocean currents from Asia. For a long time large glass bulbs washed ashore.

Have a great trip!

guitarhero1983's avatar

@marinelife @tranquilsea
Have either of you been to Strathcona Provincial Park? If so, would you recommend it? Is it safe there? It seems quite rugged and filled with bears. Do either of you have any great hike or camping recommendations?

tranquilsea's avatar

@guitarhero1983 I’ve not done any hiking on the Island unfortunately, but I have done a ton on the coast…and bears can swim lol.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Trans Canada Trail but it may not be where your are planning on being. You should be able to pick a good trail map once you get over to the Island.

So far as bears go….they are around. Read up on sites like these for black bears and these for grizzlies. From what I understand the main difference is in what you would do if you were ever attacked by one or the other. For a grizzly you lie on the ground on your belly with your hands cupped around your neck. For a black bear you fight like hell with what ever you have. But 99% of what you need to do falls under avoiding confrontations: don’t wear perfume of any sort, in your lotion or soap. Talk very loudly ever so often and especially when you are about to come around a turn. I tend to sing as I hike. Hike in groups and let someone know where your are going to be. Bears will try to avoid you if at all possible. You just need to be very aware of where you are.

I hope you have a great time! Try not to let the bears worry you too much. The only close encounter I’ve ever had with a bear was when I was kayaking down the Columbia river with a group. We had pulled over to a field to camp for the night. In the middle of the night I heard a bear sniffing all around our tent, but he moved off when he couldn’t smell anything worth eating. The next morning a farmer let us know that a juvenile grizzly was around.

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