We spent a month on Vancouver Island and loved it as much, if not more, than we expected. Although we spent most of our time at our rental in Victoria, many of our favorite places were further north on the island. This list is in now way exhaustive (frankly, we didn’t do the best job of exploring), but I hope fellow explorers can use it as a jumping off point for planning their Vancouver Island adventures.
Top Places to See – Other than Victoria – on Vancouver Island
Tofino is a chill, picturesque surfing town on the northwest side of the island. Surrounded by Pacific Rim National Park, it has everything: Huge peaks covered in lush vegetation; classic Pacific Northwest beaches; and hiking paths through temperate rainforest with old-growth trees. Tofino reminded us of SE Alaska more than any other part of Canada (while simultaneously reminding us of the Virgin Islands). It’s incredibly unique and worth a long weekend or – ideally – week or longer visit (It’s 4+ hours from Victoria, so I’d suggest giving it at least 3 days). I managed to get no photos that do it justice, so I’m pasting a good one I found on Google below.
Shed Restaurant in Tofino, BC
This place has great food, beer, specials, and a huge patio with view where you can eat your food AND sit with your dog – a rarity in Canada that shouldn’t be taken for granted! Again, I took zero photos, so I’m adding some from Google below.
Port Renfrew and Botanical Beach
Port Renfrew is a terminus of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park (which is similarly beautiful to Pacific Rim National Park). The coolest part of Port Renfrew (IMHO) are the tidal pools of Botanical Beach. Botanical is a rocky sandstone beach where massive, crystal clear tidal pools form and house various sea creatures. The photos online seem unreal, but they reflect how it looks in person. It’s a must-see, and a mere 2-hour drive from Victoria.
Jordan River Regional Park Campground
This was a lucky find on the way back from Port Renfrew. Situated about 1 hour north of Victoria, the Jordan River Campground is beachfront, cheap ($15 CAD per night), chill, and quite dog-friendly.
Whiffin Spit in Sooke
This is a fantastic place to walk your dog (and yourself). Just 45ish minutes north of Victoria, Sooke has a long, narrow peninsula with walking path (Spit) that juts out into the sea. Dogs were allowed to walk off leash both on the paved path and along the beach.
Find more cool, dog-friendly spots (restaurants and breweries) in Victoria, BC.