(work in progress)
I was really impressed by the quality of tourist brochures on Vancouver Island: the coverage and quality of research is excellent, and these were particularly welcome resource after the disappointment of the hopeless Lonely Planet City Guide to Vancouver (which - out of 256 pages - devotes a meagre seven pages to Vancouver Island, including a two page map of Victoria).
This literature is free and readily available. I picke these up at Vancouver Airport in the baggage collection area, but there's also a good selection available on the B.C. ferries and at tourist information offices on the the island (which tend to be located on the outskirts of town).
I would encourage you to pick up some of these brochures, even if you think that you have your Vancouver Island itinerary planned in minute detail. The reason for this is that so many of the activities on the Island are weather dependent, but with the Island having such changeable weather, you'd be well advised to have the ability to consider alternatives if the weather turns foul.
If you'd like to get this information in advance to use for planning purposes, then follow this link for the Vancouver Island Travel website.
Yes, you can get them at any Tim Horton's, but you should really get them in a non-chain location while you are on Vancouver Island. Preferably Nanaimo itself, but somewhere nearby will do in a pinch.
These rich chocolate bars were invented by a woman who lived in the central Cowichan river valley, and they were successfully marketed in nearby Nanaimo.
I purchased several bars in Sidney, at a little bakery which was in the center of the town. They made for a nice snack on the 3 hour ferry ride back to Seattle.
Fondest memory: Standard Nanaimo Bars
2 squares (oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding
2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
4 squares (oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
Procedure - Base
Combine ingredients. Press into 9 inch square cake pan. Chill.
Combine butter, milk, and custard powder. Blend in confectioner's sugar. Spread over base. Chill at least 15 minutes.
Partially melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and stir until melted. Spread over custard layer. Chill.
Store in refrigerator, covered, up to 1 month. Makes 24 bars.
Serve chilled. They're rich, so small portions may be appropriate.
This was probably our favourite place on Vancouver Island, and I wish we’d planned to spend a little more time there than the two days we’d allowed for. There’s lots to do – see my Things to Do tips for ideas about whale watching trips and scenic flights, for instance. It’s also a pleasant place to simply stroll around, with several interesting shops and art galleries, including one in a traditional Northwest Coast longhouse, the Eagle Aerie Gallery featuring the work of Roy Henry Vickers, one of Canada's premier artists. We also liked the Himwitsa Gallery, a First Nations owned and operated gallery with a great selection of native paintings, masks, carvings and jewellery.
Fondest memory: For the evening there’s a good choice of restaurants to suit all budgets, but the high-end ones are particularly good and worth splashing out on (and for visitors from the UK like ourselves, represent excellent value).
And just outside Tofino itself you’ll find the beautiful coastal scenery of the Pacific Rim National Park, with fantastic beaches and walking and hiking trails to suit everyone.
Quadra is one of the Discovery Islands which lie in the waters of the Discovery Passage between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. You can get here by the regular ferry service from Campbell River. There are three villages: Quathiaski Cove (where the ferries arrive and depart), Heriot Bay, and Cape Mudge. The latter, at the south end of the island, is home to the Wei-Wai-Kai band of the Kwagiulth First Nation.
This a good place to come if you’re looking for peace and quiet on beautiful beaches, or if you’re interested in art and crafts, especially First Nation (native) art and totem poles. Quite a few of the resident painters, potters, and carvers open their studios and galleries to the public and welcome visitors.
We particularly liked Wa Wa Kie Beach on the south east coast, and Rebecca Spit near Heriot Bay.
Telegraph Cove is a great place to spend a few days. The main things to do here are whale watching trips or wildlife tours to look for bears (I so wish we’d allowed time for both but we had to choose and the whales won – a good choice as my other tip should illustrate). You can also go out sports fishing, if that’s your thing, or kayaking. But with the exception of the whale watching we chose to spend our time relaxing and enjoying the village. If you’re keen on photography it’s a fascinating place – old wooden buildings in various colours, various quirky details etc.
For something different, check out the whale bones in the Whale Interpretive Centre at the end of the wharf – this vertebra really gives you a sense of the scale of these magnificent animals! When we were there the collection was pretty modest but checking various websites it seems to have grown considerably into a real museum, including the full skeleton of a fin whale.
Telegraph Cove is 11 kilometres from Hwy. 19 via Beaver Cove Road – 4 hours drive from Nanaimo
As I've already said, I found the laid-back attitude on the Island to be most enjoyable. The locals refer to it as "Island Time".
Whatever you call it, I know I can't wait to get back to enjoy it again! I found my time here to be very relaxing.
This photo was taken from the ferry as we left Nanaimo and Departure Bay. It was a bit of a let down, to see this part of our vacation come to an end. I was also sad to have to say good bye to my cousins, but I don't intend to let so many years go by before I come back for a visit next time!
Fondest memory: I would have to say that I have several fondest memories of the Island.
1. Seeing my cousins, Greg and Tom, after so many years, and reminiscing with them about our childhood, our relatives and the many family get togethers that we used to have.
2. Seeing a star fish for the first time
3. Coombs, and the silver bracelet I bought there.
4. Walking along the beach in Qualicum. It was red tide, so we couldn't clam, but the kids walked along the beach and rubbed their foot over the pockets in the sand where we could see that there were clams. We laughed and laughed about the way the water shot up out of the sand as the clams scurried further down to avoid being caught.
5. The drive up the coast to Fanny Bay.
6. The relaxing atmosphere.
7. Gabriola Island & a day spent on the water fishing.
Tourism Vancouver Island:
203 - 335 Wesley Street
Nanaimo BC V9R 2T5
- Tel.: (+1) (250) 754 35 00
- Fax: (+1) (250) 754 35 99
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite thing: All around the island you can find these Visitor's Choice Guides. These guides are regional to the places on the island and they are free. They are around 50 pages thick, in colour, made of good quality paper, have detailed maps, are produced yearly and so on. Since it is a locally produced guide and there are advertisements in there it is obviously biased. Unfortunately there is not to much for the shoestringer but does give a good ideas for the local areas.
When I drove on Vancouver Island, I used a map inside a magazine called ´Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Gulf Islands 2005 Vacation Guide´. This is a really nice magazine. You can get this magazine at the Tourist Information Centre.
You also can check everything about Vancouver Island.
Fondest memory: I was driving from Nanaimo to Campbell River via route 19A. It is also called the Oceanside Route.
Favorite thing: When you come to the "Island" please be pre-warned that we are a people that love and respect our land and all of its naturall beauty and resources. Please don't pollute and be nice to our land and all that it offers, the wild life will thank you for it!
Favorite thing: If you like looking for Driftwood, Long Beach is one of the best places in B.C. To go. The fierce waves of the Pacific have contributed to the wood being smooth and being in all different shapes and sizes.
Hans and I arrived by Ferry to Vancouver Island. Places we visited were Victoria then north on Highway 1 to Cowichan Bay, Duncan, Chemainus, then west on Highway 4 to Port Alberni and Tofino. We then backtracked to Parksville and Nanaimo where we took the Ferry back to the mainland.
Fondest memory: Although we only explored the southern half of Vancouver Island, what we saw and experienced was just fantastic.
Favorite thing: Aside from all the wonderful things about BC...its very Rv friendly...Each town has sanitary dump sites!! What a relief for my humans! I can poop anywhere...but in the RV, you sort of have to carry it around till you can dump it!!
The highlights are the Empress Hotel in VIctoria, and the scenic harbour; Shopping in Nanaimo, which has more malls per population than anywhere in the world; Salmon fishing in Tahsis, an inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island; the beautiful beaches and waterfront in Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum, as well as in Victoria; unequalled landscape photo opportunities up-island.
Fondest memory: When I'm away, what I miss most are the trees and the proximity to the ocean.
Port Alberni is truly the Salmon Capital of the World - adjacent waters boast all five species of Pacific salmon. Port Alberni's harbour district is thick with tackle shops, boat rentals, and fishing charters. This is definitely one of the major hubs for angling on Vancouver Island and is the best resource centre for information on fishing locally in both saltwater and freshwater.
Fondest memory: Port Alberni has become known as the Gateway to the Pacific Rim - to the west is Ucluelet, Tofino and spectacular Long Beach. Port Alberni is also the starting point of a 102-km unpaved road to the village of Bamfield, and the start of the famous West Coast Trail.