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First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

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First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

Hi all,

We are planning on driving from Edmonton, AB to Vancouver Island some time this summer. We are completely flexible on dates...we would just like to go some time during July or August while the kids are out of school. We have a 13 year old girl and two boys, 9 and 11.

I am completely at a loss as to where to even begin planning this trip. All I know so far is we are thinking that we will take about 10 days for the trip and we will be staying in hotels/motels. Ideally I would like to find accommodations with a kitchenette of some sort so we could save a little money by having breakfast and possibly a couple other meals "at home".

Any advice and or tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

Well, yes, there are some great destinations on the island and if your 10 days includes your drive, then you have some tough choices to make.

Have you considered how many different points you'd like to stay at? With the time you have, perhaps two or three? What activities are you interested in?

Last summer I was on a kayak trip in the Gulf Island Marine Park and we encountered a Dutch family that had booked an overnight kayak trip through an outfitters on Saltspring Island. That would be an amazing experience if it was something that interested you.

The three main destinations for most tourists is Victoria, the Pacific Rim area (Tofino/Uclulet) and the north island between Campbell River and/or the Port McNeil area. Other very popular destinations include the various smaller islands that dot the inland waters between VI and the mainland, the Parksville Qualicum Beach area and the Cowichan Valley.

Perhaps start with these tourism sites and try to figure out what kind of vacation you are looking for and then start to narrow down your options.





Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

Vancouverite is giving you some excellent advice so not much to add other than I would suggest that you also may want to consider Nanaimo>Parksville and stop at Catherdral Grove, which is amazing. Then you could of course head to Tofino.


Destination Expert
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3. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

Your boys will probably love plying the beaches, wherever you go on the Island, for crabs, eels, and whatever else I'm sure they will find. An eco tour from Campbell River would also be a fun thing for all the kids - there is one that is specific to tides and you do get to run some rapids. There is a high probability of seeing eagles, whales, porpoise etc as well. Parksville area is great for younger kids, but yours are old enough to be safe around Tofino beaches. From Tofino you could do a trip to Hot Springs Cove and all the kids would enjoy that.

Do a little more research based on your family's wants and abilities and then come back for more details. Happy planning.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

My concern is having only 10 days to drive from Edmonton to visit Vancouver Island and back. You will want to consider 2 nights to comfortably go each way if you choose Tofino or North Island. Very likely 2 nights each way for either Victoria or Parksville/Qualicum. The journey between Vancouver to the entry cities on VI takes about 4 hours. Combined with maybe 12-13 hours, stops extra between Edmonton and Vancouver. If you could stretch to 12 nights for this holiday, I think it would be more relaxed.

Focussing on the Victoria area and the Pacific Marine Circle Drive, or the Parksville-Qualicum area would involve the least driving.

In Parksville there is a sand sculpture competition in July. Parksville is a very family friendly town with wide sand beaches, so it books up quickly.


Edmonton, Canada
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5. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

two places i like that might meet your needs on the island - sidney pier hotel. great location and lots within walking distance, short drive to the victoria area. in parksville - ocean sands resort is nice. the ocean view rooms are great. or, for families a room by the pool might be better but they aren't as private. the ocean is shallow there so we found the water warm. the tide goes out a long ways so it's nice for looking at the tide pools too.

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6. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

My favourite place on the island - in fact I chose to live here after a move from Calgary:

Ucluelet and Tofino






That being said, there are many gorgeous places on the Island - Comox Valley, Parksville/Qualicum, Cowichan Valley, Victoria area, Campbell River, Port Hardy/Port McNeill/Telegraph Cove.

Are you into hiking, whale watching, beach combing, surfing, kayaking, fishing, museums, shopping? It would help to know what you like.

Victoria, BC Canada
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7. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

With a bunch of my family in Edmonton, I'm usually the drive all night from Victoria to Edmonton type of person. (Crazy in other words!) If you don't mind a few longish drives of 6 - 7 hours, you can stop in Clearwater which is just over halfway from Edmonton and make it to the ferry the next day. Which ferry will depend on where you are starting from on the Island.

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

Assuming you will want to use Victoria as a "home base", then you will probably want to get the big tourist attractions out of the way: Empress Hotel, China Town, Oak Bay, Mile 0, BC Museum, Dallas Road, the inner harbour, and Butchart Gardens.

Likely you will want to go whale watching. There are a few companies offering this at various rates in the inner harbour.

If the weather is nice, you may want to try one of the local beaches in Victoria. I recommend either Gonzales Beach or Willows Beach (both offer nice sand, but very cold ocean water).

Then you may want to get out of the Victoria area. The first easy trip is to Sidney. Its a nice half-day trip.

A trip up the west coast will bring you to Colwood, then Sooke. Colwood has Hatley Castle, the Esquimalt Lagoon and Fort Rodhill and lighthouse. Sooke has the Potholes which is an excellent place for kids to swim or hike:


If you continue up the west coast, you will come across some fantastic beaches which are great for exploring, but not so good for swimming. These beaches include French Beach, China Beach, Sombrio Beach and if you keep going past Port Renfrew, you get to Botanical beach:


If you want to go past the Sooke area, I recommend you get a bed and breakfast (or hotel in Sooke) and use that as a base to explore further north up the west coast.

9. Re: First trip to the island- Don't know where to start

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