Living in Beautiful British Columbia our whole lives, we definitely have taken it for granted. Whenever we have had the chance to travel, we always hop on a plane and go somewhere far, far away. We would always talk about exploring more of BC, but it never happened. Maybe the difference is now that we have small kids, exploring BC feels more comfortable than jet setting off to some far away place. Whatever the reason, we are so excited that we finally made it to Vancouver Island (beyond Victoria) and up to Tofino. We had heard that the Island was stunningly gorgeous, but even being told that, we still were not prepared to witness the level of beauty that we saw. It was breathtakingly beautiful, especially within Pacific Rim National Park.
We’ll be sharing some of our experiences of our trip to Vancouver Island with you over the next few weeks, but for now, here’s some of the highlights:
We were so lucky to have such gorgeous weather when we were on Vancouver Island. It was gorgeous wandering around Victoria. Blue skies, sun and flowers all around sure made the streets of Victoria picturesque.
Royal BC Museum
The Royal British Columbia museum was a stop we were excited to make on our trip through Vancouver Island. We hadn’t been for years and we remembered how much we loved our visit as kids.
The museum is so rich in history. We spent a good couple hours plus exploring the museum and could have even spent longer. The great smooth layout helps you transition from exhibit to exhibit easily, without missing a thing. And, there was plenty to keep the kids occupied and curious about their surroundings.
Miniature world was a neat way to go back in time, or explore fairytales. The setups in each display were phenomenal. We loved feeling like we got to return to those fond memories of yesteryear, childhood dreams and history’s greatest moments!
Victoria’s Bug Zoo
We weren’t sure how the girls would react to bugs, but wanted to introduce them while they still didn’t understand the “Ew” impression they will likely soon have. Madison absolutely loved handling all the different bugs. And, there were some cool ones. Bugs that looked like sticks or leaves. She even held a cockroach. Sadie, our tomboy, on the other hand, she wasn’t so keen as she had just woken up grumpy from a nap and wanted nothing to do with it all. Maybe next time!
Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong era, when it comes to how cool the decor and whatnot was in a different time. This was one of those instances. There are four floors of exquisite stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and impressive Victorian-era furnishings.
Butchart Gardens sees more than a million people come through its gates each year, and when you get the first glimpse, you immediately understand why. It will take your breath away.
Victoria’s Butterfly Garden was such a fun experience. I have always wanted to know what it felt like to have butterflies fluttering all around me and now we know; it was magical. Being able to capture all the different colours and types of butterflies on camera was incredible.
Hot Springs & Wildlife
We love hot springs, but had never been to any natural ones. The hot springs were a smaller area than I had envisioned, but it was neat to actually be out in nature instead of a swimming pool. We were surprised at just how HOT the water was. The boat ride to the hot springs was a scenic hour and a half and we were able to spot a lot of wildlife, including a quick stop to observe some grey whales. It was outstanding.
Sunrises & Sunsets
One of our goals this year was to see more sunrises and sunsets and so far, they really have not disappointed. The sunset was at Wickannish beach in Tofino and the sunrise at the marina beside our hotel in Ucluelet. Both were so vibrant and pure magic.
Goats On The Roof
One of the attractions in Coombs is as simple as “Goats on the Roof” of the Old Country Market. It was quite the sight to see them happily wandering around up there, munching away on the grass. The market inside is really neat, too.
Parksville Community Beach
Parksville Community Park has a great beach and playground for the kids. We first typed in Parskville Community Beach into the GPS and it took us into a residential area with access to the beach down some steps. While it was nice, this section of the beach above is what you would want to be looking for.
Mount Douglas Park
We always like to find a good view of the city area we are in and this was a top recommended view. You get a 360 degree view from the summit after a short walk from the parking area. In addition to seeing the City of Victoria laid out in front of you to the south, on a good day you can see the Olympic Mountains and Mount Baker in the U.S. To the north is the Saanich Peninsula and Saltspring Island. Stunning views all around!
Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas fir trees on Vancouver Island. Take a walk through the trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world – some more than 800 years old. Some of those trees were HUGE!
Rathtrevor beach was phenomenal. Sand dollars everywhere, and the sand stretched out farther than the eye could see. The beach extends for close to a kilometre. The sand felt so nice between your toes and the girls learned how to fly a kite. Great childhood memories!
During WWII and The Cold War, Radar Hill was a part of the line of radar installations across the U.S. And Canada, watching for threats of long-range bombers. Radar Hill has a gorgeous view over Pacific Rim’s vast temperate rainforest.
Lighthouse Loop – Wild Pacific Trail
The lighthouse loop on the Wild Pacific trail was breathtaking. Each viewpoint of seemingly endless ocean vistas left us speechless. Maybe we stopped for too many photos, but how long it took us to get through this 3k walk really shows how beautiful it was.
We haven’t seen another aquarium like this one that gives an up-close encounter with local marine life. The girls loved being able to touch all the different creatures and we even got Jacob’s hands in there for a touch. It’s the only catch and release aquarium in North America and was so much fun!
Chesterman beach is white sand paradise and is the most popular beach destinations in Tofino. That sand between our toes felt heavenly.
Long Beach is situated within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Along with Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish, Combers and Schooner Cove beaches, it creates the longest sand dune on Vancouver Island stretching for over 16 kilometres.
We loved the weather-bleached driftwood on the edge of golden sand dunes that left us awestruck by this vast stretch of sand. Wickaninnish Beach is situated within Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. When the tide was out it was a perfect spot to search for Starfish and other underwater life
Englishman River Falls
We stopped at Englishman River Falls for a chance to stretch our legs. The falls are right by the parking lot, so within minutes you will arrive at the falls, making this stop a spot for quick visits or longer stays.
Little Qualicum Falls
Another great place to stretch your legs is at Little Qualicum Falls. We only stopped long enough to see the lower falls, but the scenery was gorgeous.
Rod Hill & Lighthouse
How picturesque is this lighthouse? First, explore Fort Rodd Hill, a 100-year-old coast artillery fort. Climb up the little hill and you’re greeted by this view of Fisgard lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on the west coast. You can also take a walk down to explore the lighthouse. Entrance to Fort Rodd Hill is free with your Canada150 parks pass; they had extra passes at the cashier if you needed one.
Chemanius was such a cute seaside community. It is renowned for its Mural Project. You can easily spend a few hours there wandering around town looking for the murals.
Driving along towards the giant trees at Cathedral Grove, we had to stop for a photo. This reflection was so beautiful.
Have you ever seen such a big hockey stick and puck? It doesn’t get more Canadian than that.
We will be sharing more stories in greater detail over the coming weeks, so check back to read more about our Vancouver Island adventure.