Sleek cities, epic wildernesses, and more gourmet grub than you could ever imagine eating; British Columbia is a destination packed with enough travel fuel to keep us coming back for more. On this 10 night trip into Canada’s wild wild west we’ll show you the sprawling beauty of Vancouver Island as well as getting up close and personal with some of the world’s most astounding creatures.
A city by the sea
Arrive in Vancouver and collect your rental car, your mode of transport for the rest of your journey. Once settled into your boutique city crash pad Opus Vancouver, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the vibrant harbour that makes this city so iconic. A place that takes its open space very seriously, Vancouver is awash with parks and waterfronts. We recommend hitting Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world and the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll amidst ambling locals. When the sun goes down we can recommend a few great places to get acquainted with the city’s lively night scene – we love the UVA wine bar with its mouth-watering cocktails and tapas for sharing. Then do like the Vancouverite’s do and head to the fashionable Yaletown neighbourhood, where you’ll find Brix Restaurant, a unique eatery with a menu full of modern Canadian cuisine. Enjoy locally sourced dishes like Fraser Valley Cornish Game Hen, and Vancouver Island Lingcod.
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An island life for me
Early the next day you’ll leave Vancouver and depart from Horseshoe Bay to sail over to Vancouver Island. A region characterised by paradisaical islands, pristine coastlines, and emerald forests, on Vancouver Island you’re always reminded of the ever-present Pacific Ocean that shapes the dramatic scenery. As you touch down on the island you’ll head to the town of Campbell River known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”. Surrounded by a backdrop of stunning national parkland and towering peaks, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature. The following day you’ll get to see this stunning region from the skies, which trust us is the best way to do a little sightseeing.
Your destination for the next two nights is the Knight Inlet Lodge, a bolthole so beautiful and remote you can only reach it by seaplane. Float over the Campbell River on a thrilling 30 minute journey over a rugged landscape that’s carpeted by dense forest. As you approach the mouth of the Glendale River you’ll spy the lodge nestled over the water on large cedar booms.
The bear necessities
Being surrounded by all this nature means you’re in the best possible place to view grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Armed with a camera and some steely nerves you’ll embark on a wildlife tour with an expert tracking guide to view the grizzlies that prowl the coastline in search of salmon. Rise bright and early the next day and if you’re feeling energetic, take a hiking trip along the Kwalate River for a chance to view iconic bald eagles. Your last morning at the lodge can be spent getting in a few last photo opportunities of the bears before catching a floatplane back to Campbell River.
Surfs up in Tofino
Time to hit the road again as you head south west towards Tofino; BC’s undisputed coastal gem that’s characterised by its secluded inlets and soft sandy beaches flanked by cedar forests. Whilst in Tofino you’ll be staying at the renowned Wickaninnish Inn, with its unpretentious elegance and views to match. We promise waking up to a sparkling horizon, knowing your nearest neighbour is the Pacific Rim National Park, makes everything okay with the world. Take to the seas for a whale watching trip, where nutrient rich waters and sheltered bays make this is one of the best places in the world to view a myriad of species such as Gray Whales and Humpback Whales. After a day out on the ocean you can spend the following day simply enjoying the pristine beaches of Tofino, or taking to the waves to tame the pounding surf.
After a relaxing few days soaking up the beauty of Tofino, it’s time to head south to Victoria. Stop off on route at the artistic hub of Chermainus, a bohemian community where you can admire gigantic murals that adorn the walls throughout town. For some unique insights into North West Pacific history, check out Quwútsun Village before checking into the Oswego Hotel for the night. The following day you’ll get the rare opportunity to view the magnificent and enthralling Orca Whales off the coast of the island. Travelling in numerous pods these whales are as inquisitive as they are captivating, and truly an experience that’s rarely seen anywhere else. Once back on dry land, take some time to explore the quaint town of Victoria, where you can admire turn of the century architecture and quintessentially British traditions such as high tea and charming boutiques.
On your last full day drive back to Vancouver via the rich scenic route of Butchart Gardens. After driving through 50 acres of wonderful flora you’ll reach the ferry port where you’ll head back to Vancouver City. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure soaking in the sights of the city for one last time.