Little confusing here, are you taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria or to Nanaimo?? It would be better use of your time to go Vancouver to Victoria (Tswassen to Sidney); spend your time in Victoria then drive up the Island. There is no need to spend a night in Nanaimo as the drive from Victoria to Tofino is only about 5 hours.
Tough question! Vancouver Island has so much to offer in all the of the locations mentioned. So I am assuming you are crossing over to Sidney and exploring for a couple of days in the Victoria area. Sidney is a gem that sometimes gets lost in the quest for the Capital, stop in at the Shaw Discovery Centre and stroll down Beacon Street in Sidney it's awesome - before heading to Victoria, it's close so it's not going to take you long to get there, Butchart Gardens is on the way too, but I'm sure you've already planned a visit there.
I might suggest Victoria to Tofino - as cruiseryyc mentioned that the trip to Nanaimo for the next night is close so you might as well head over to Long Beach. I just spent 3 nights at Cox Bay - we actually only went in to Tofino twice to grocery shop. We spent our days on the beaches and exploring the trails (it was a little before the whale watching season) so two full days is good, three is better but it sounds like you might only have 4 or 5 nights. Heading up to Campbell River is a popular route as the communities on Vancouver Island all differ in what they offer and CR is a true oceanside community stretching 20kms (approx.) along the waterfront. Whale Watching you can do at Victoria, Tofino/Uclulet, Campbell River if that is one of the activities you would like. Nanaimo is 1½ hours from Campbell River so you can still have a full day to explore the waterfront Nanaimo, Bastion Square and the old town site.
Your biggest day of travel will likely be Victoria to Tofino. Tofino to Campbell River is about 3 hours and CR to Nanaimo is 1½ hours.
Agreed - a night in Nanaimo doesn't really fit with your other destinations, so not too clear where you are putting that in. No need to put a night in Nanaimo between Victoria and Tofino.
I'll admit I haven't spent a lot of time in Campbell River, but the inland waters of Georgia Straight do not hold the appeal that those wild ocean waves of the west coast for me. I'd head to Tofino every time.
I will say, I agree with Vancouverite-----(and please, no offense to anyone from Campbell River). But, the few times I've been through Campbell River was passing through on the way to Strathcona Park, further up north up Vancouver Island, or across to Quadra Island, but never actually stayed in Campbell River. And, as Vancouverite mentioned, the wild surf on the west side of the island is a marvel, plus several really nice hiking trails, and the drive there is really pretty too.
Enjoy your trip-------I am jealous :))
A wee point of clarification. BC Ferries runs from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Sidney is where the Washington State ferries arrive to.
Tofino would get my vote, or Ucluelet at the south end of the Pac Rim NP.
It will be either Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay(Nanaimo) , or Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay. If you don't want to drive long distances, then I would suggest:
4 hours journey to 2 nights Victoria, via TS-SB ferry route
5 hours journey to Tofino, or the nearby and less expensive Ucluelet for 3 nights
3 hours journey to Nanaimo for 1 night
4 hours back to Vancouver, via DB-HB ferry routeEdited: 31 March 2014, 21:41
Another vote for Tofino.
We spent some time in Campbell River last autumn and it is a useful jump-off point to various northern Vancouver Island attractions - Strathcona Park, Telegraph Cove, Quadra Island, whale and grizzly bear tours, and so on. However, its natural setting is very much like the natural setting found in various places up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island. The natural setting around Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, on the other hand, is very different - areas of rain forest and wide open beaches.
We enjoyed our little break on the east coast of Vancouver Island (we always enjoy Vancouver Island) in September. However, "Tofino" (i.e., the area over on the west coast of Vancouver Island) is unique and unlike other accessible areas of the province. Coming from so far away and with your limited time to visit, "Tofino" would give you the bigger "bang for your buck", or, in your case, GBP.
Well then! The drive from Victoria to Nanaimo can be 1 1/2 hours, or 2 hours, depending on where you are starting from, and what time you leave the city of Victoria. And more importantly, where you want to stop!
The Malahat offers the Goldstream Park, a wonderful place to visit, and depending on when you are actually going to be here, you may see eagles, or the salmon, or both! And then there are the viewpoints further up the highway. There is the Kinsol Railway Trestle that is a wonderful way to stretch your legs.
And then there is Duncan to see the totem poles.
Oh, and Chemainus for the murals.
Ooops, forgot the wineries, all over the Cowichan Valley. And cider too! Cheers!
Then Nanaimo! Okay, sure I am biased. But the Nanaimo Bars are wonderful, and where else can you get a Nanaimo Bar martini! So, technically, the drive to Nanaimo could take the whole day! It just depends on your likes, and what YOU would like to do with your one week.
Even the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino can easily be another day trip. Rathtrevor Beach, Coombs Country Market, Little Qualicum Falls, Cathedral Grove, the recovery center in Errington, and that is all before you even get to Port Alberni!
When are you traveling? Our ferries are always busy in the summer months, so plan accordingly. Also, it's always a good idea to spend the night in Vancouver the night before your flight home.
Many thanks for all your replies.
Will now pass all of your suggestions onto my husband , who can then plan our route!
Thanks again to everyone who posted.
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