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Top 10 Things to Do in a Week on Vancouver Island

I have visited Vancouver Island countless times over the years, and yet I discover something new each time I visit. Even if I had six months to explore, I still couldn’t see and do everything on my list!

Many accommodation options vary in cost, including beautiful campsites with ocean views, unique sphere-shaped hotel rooms, and oceanside resorts. Whatever you choose, here’s a small selection of things to see and do on Vancouver Island.

Butchart Gardens

From the spectacular Sunken Gardens to the stunning fountain, you’ll find a gardener’s paradise at the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, BC. Nothing beats the garden goals of this beautiful property that has existed for over 100 years. I’ve been visiting for nearly 30 years, and it improves yearly.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

There are many things to do and see in Victoria, but high or afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is highly recommended.

To complement our house-made signature Empress scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry preserves with fresh lavender from our rooftop herb garden, are 21 of the finest loose leafs teas available.

Kinsol Trestle

The Kinsol Trestle, over the Koksilah River, is one of the world’s tallest free-standing timber rail trestle structures. This spectacular bridge is accessible by a wide gravel trail and an easy walk for all ages and fitness levels.

Parksville Beach and Sand Sculptures

One of my favourite places on Vancouver Island is the beach in Parksville. There’s a fun mini-golf nearby, as well as beaches, hiking, campgrounds, and motels. You have to see the sand sculpting competition starting mid-July! There is so much to explore — the perfect home base for a summer vacation!

Goats on the Roof, Coombs

On your drive up Island, make sure to stop in Coombs just past Parksville and see the goats on the roof at the Old Country Market—often called just “Goats on the Roof.” This market is more than just a country market; there’s everything you can think of, from fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables to home decor… and, of course, goats!

BC Seafood Festival

Located in the Courtenay/Comox region of Vancouver Island, it is one of the best celebrations of Canadian West Coast seafood. In mid-June, you can sample delicious creations by well-known chefs. Find out more here.

Manatee Holdings

Wine & Distillery Tours

The Comox Valley has several wineries and distilleries…I visited 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery and Wayward Distillation House. It’s not a mystery that my favourite wine at 40 Knots is the Rosé, and at Wayward…the gin for my refreshing gin and tonic.

Sea Stacks, Caves, and Tidal Pools

If you drive to the very top of Vancouver Island to Cape Scott Provincial Park, you can hike into San Josef Bay and see this spectacular sight! It is a bit of a challenge to drive into this park along 70 kilometres of active logging roads, but once you arrive, you can camp at the trailhead or make this an all-day adventure returning to your accommodation choice.

The hike into San Josef Bay is on a family-friendly trail approximately 2.5 kilometres long, easily accessible for strollers and wagons. The beautiful white beach is 2 kilometres long and not overcrowded. As always, in wilderness parks, beware of wildlife.

Sea Stacks, Vancouver Island, BC

Bear Watching in Tofino

When in Tofino, you must go bear-watching! There are several companies that will take you. We chose Clayoquot Wild for this adventure. For more things to do in Tofino, visit my post about this area.

Accommodations sell out quickly, especially in the Tofino area, so click the map below to check availability!

I’ve barely touched on the many things to see and do on Vancouver Island. What are some of your favourite things to do and places to visit on Vancouver Island?

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22 Comments

  1. I’ve never been to Vancouver Island but I TOTALLY want to go! The sand castle extravaganza would especially get my kids super psyched. Thanks for the ideas – I pinned this for our next trip!

    1. You’re welcome! There is so much for to do on Vancouver Island, especially for kids! I hope you can visit the Island this summer!

    1. It is so gorgeous there! I’m glad I live relatively close…I need to go back again this summer and see more. 🙂

  2. I LOVE the Vancouver area. The High Tea at the Empress Hotel looks like an activity I would enjoy as do the wine and distillery tours. Such a great list.

  3. I went to Vancouver ages ago when I was in college, and have been itching to go back ever since. It is such a beautiful places, and you have given me some great ideas for even more things to do the next time I visit. I would absolutely love to see the Kinsol Trestle and drive up to Cape Scott Provincial Park. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh you should!! Vancouver Island is just a 90 minute ferry ride from Vancouver and my favourite thing to do is sit outside and take in the gorgeous sights…of course when the weather is sunny so I can also work on my tan! ha ha

  4. I really want to explore more of western Canada and now you just gave me more wanderlust. I would love to go bear watching, do you have to go with a tour company only? Or can we drive around the area on our own, do you know?

    1. The area that we went bear watching to was in a remote area so best to go with a tour company. There are a few to choose from and they know the areas to find bears. Of course all over BC you can drive around with the possibility of seeing bears, but not guaranteed. I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed if that’s your goal to see some.

  5. There are so many beautiful things to do in Vancouver island and your first photo of sun-set sold me out for this place. I would love to visit Butchart Gardens as I love colorful flowers and here I can see many exotic and unique varieties of flowers.

  6. I lived in London for a year and never had afternoon tea. Nice to know there’s a good place to go whenever I visit Vancouver.

  7. I live in Washington and used to live in BC, but somehow have never made it to Vancouver Island! This reminded me exactly why I should plan a trip there!

  8. Vancouver Island is an excellent place for vacations, and the ten things named here will keep you occupied for the whole weekend. If you are planning to go, make sure that you take your friends or your significant other with you.

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