Vancouver Island in Western Canada has become increasingly popular as a local getaway in recent years. Though known as the retirement hotspot for Canadians, thanks to a university and summer cottagers, it also has a younger edge to it these days. A lot of mainlanders are moving here because of cheaper costs and you’ll find a burgeoning natural food and beer scene here in addition to the beautiful beaches, hiking trails, lakes, rivers, mountains, and scenic farmland. Use the tips in this guide to find your way there.
Top 5 Things to See and Do on Vancouver Island
1. Visit Cathedral Grove
2. U’Mista Cultural Center
3. Butchart Gardens
4. Hike the rainforest
5. Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Experience the “goats on the roof”
For a fun experience, visit this small market in Coombs that has actual goats living on the roof. It’s definitely unique and different. Don’t feel too bad for them as the roof has plenty of grass and room for them to roam around.
2. Beacon Hill Park
This scenic park is a great place to relax and take a stroll, though it offers a bit of history as well. Aside from being a wonderful place for a picnic, it also houses a tree planted by Winston Churchill.
3. Visit a winery
Vancouver Island has twenty different wineries. While they may not be the best wineries in the world, the wine is more than drinkable. If you’re here in September, you can attend the annual wine festival.
4. Go whale watching
The inside passage and the area around Vancouver is one of the most active areas for whales in the world. You’ll be able to see a variety of species of whales. Tickets are generally around 100 CAD and the tours last several hours.
5. Take a ghost tour
Looking to peer into the spooky side of the island? Take one of the many ghost tours around here, and learn about what still lives here from the afterlife.
6. Abkhazi Garden
Spanning just over an acre, this garden created by the Russian prince and princess Abkhazi features Japanese Maples, native Garry oaks, and hundreds of rhododendrons. Try to check it out while the flowers are blooming. There is a suggested donation of 10 CAD.
7. Day-trip to the smaller islands
Vancouver Island is the only one with a major international name, but the Gulf Island strip around Vancouver actually consists of hundreds of small islands and inlets, many of which make for a pleasant day trip. Consider renting a boat or arranging a tour to Gabriola, Saltspring, or Thetis, three of the most popular islands. Here, you can hike, spend time exploring the bays and beaches or visit local artisans and eateries.