Road trip on Vancouver Island

Travel Forums North America Road trip on Vancouver Island

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1. Posted by Lynette56 (Budding Member 14 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Hey anyone!
Has anyone travelled around Vancouver Island by car? We, my friend and I, are ladies in our 60s so hiking isn’t really a choice for us and we’re not hugely into beaches either, coming from a place with some of the best beaches in the world!
We have 4 days on the island, 2 of which we’re spending in Victoria.
We were planning on driving a loop over the next 2 days and what we were wondering was, is it more worthwhile, scenery-wise, to drive to the Campbell River, stopping off at Elk Falls Provincial Park for a couple of hours, overnighting at Campbell River, then travelling back to Victoria via Cathedral Grove and Lake Cowichan, stopping at each for an hour or so; or would it be more spectacular going to Torino and Ucluet and overnighting at one of those?
As I said before, we’re not intrepid hikers ( we could manage a km or 2 though) and into swimming or surfing or kayaking etc.
So......any advice?
Regards,
Lynette56

2. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1193 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

I think you'd like Ucluelet and Tofino, which are very picturesque. Easy to get around. Nice little hotels, should you wish that. Let me think on it some more.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5348 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

I haven't been to Campbell River, but I can say that the old growth rainforest along the coast south of Tofino is absolutely stunning, and there's some boardwalks through it that I remember as very short (probably right around ~2km?) and very, very worthwhile.

I can also strongly recommend the Tofino Botanical Gardens, along the road just a ways outside of Tofino. They start off as just your run of the mill botanical garden, but the further in you get, the more characterful and wild they get. You can easily spend upward of half a day just exploring here. Also a lovely spot to stop for lunch, and they even have a lodge on site which I've already earmarked as the place to stay if we're ever again in the neighbourhood. :)

4. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 884 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

We're not hikers either, though we did enjoy a walk on the beach near Ucluelet - the old trees worn by the sea make for great photos. We went whale watching in Tofino and had some great sightings of grey whales, and also treated ourselves to a sea plane flight from which we saw more whales and got great views of the coastline. Torino is a good place to stay, with plenty of nice restaurants if you're into seafood or good food generally (we are!) and some nice shops and galleries to potter around.

We also loved Telegraph Cove for more whale watching, this time orcas, and it was an interesting place to stay, but that may be too far off your planned circuit?

5. Posted by Lynette56 (Budding Member 14 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Thank you Sarah for your reply. Yes, I think as we have only l night in the area, we wouldn’t get that far, unfortunately.
Did you visit either Lake Cowichan or Cathedral Grove on the way there or back? We’re they worth a visit?
Regards,
Lynette56

6. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 884 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

We stopped in Cathedral Grove on our way across the island. It was certainly worth a stop as the trees were impressive and it made a nice stroll. I wouldn't base my whole route on going there, but if going anywhere near it I would recommend taking a look.

We didn't go to Lake Cowichan so I can't comment on that - sorry.

7. Posted by Lynette56 (Budding Member 14 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Thank you Sarah for your feedback. You’ve been very helpful.
Regards,
Lynette56

8. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 131 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

I would echo Toonsarah that Cathedral Grove is good for a stop off en route, but wouldn't go massively out of my way for it. Toronto and Ucluelet are a good combination as both offer short but scenic walks. We also did a black bear watching boat tour in Tofino.

We drove through Campbell River, but didn't stop there and didn't visit Lake Cowichan itself. We did go to Duncan and Chemainus nearby, which are both nice enough, but Tofino and Ucluelet were a better combination in my opinion.

Telegraph Cove was definitely the highlight for us, but as you say, a bit far for just a couple of days.

9. Posted by Lynette56 (Budding Member 14 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Thank you,Tabitha, for your thoughts and opinions. It looks like it’s unanimous- Tofino and Ucluelet it will be. Should we just get to the destination as quickly as possible to see as much of it as we can or make stopovers on the way, would you recommend?
Regards,
Lynette56

10. Posted by Keep Smiling (Respected Member 15 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

I am so jealous! I've travelled the world, but one place that remains firmly in my mind is Vancouver Island. Our two or three days driving a hire car there were oustanding. You may not have so much time to spare, but we were a bit older than you and took it easy. Here's what we did:

Day 1 - Collect hire car in Vancouver, ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) - terrific sea and mountain scenery on the way. Drive north, via Parksville, on good roads stopping at Little Qualicum River - pleasant walk with some steps to Falls. Continue on winding road past Cameron Lake (we saw deer) to Port Alberni. Night stop at Somass Motel. Best ever halibut and chips dinner at the Swale Rock Cafe on Argyle Street!

Day 2 - Drive west past Sproat Lake (stop for short walk) to Wickaninnish - amazing tree-strewn beach, views of surfers, well-marked tracks for walking, and aninteresting interpretive centre. Continue to Ucluelet - whale watching boat trip (Jamie's Whaling Station) - saw humpback whales and sealions. Returned to Port Alberni in time for a walk to the nearby salmon 'ladder' - lovely forest and river views, huge quantities of salmon and a black bear!

Day 3 - Drive east from Port Alberni to Coombs (goats on the roof of the Old Country Market), then to Duncan ('City of Totems') for a walk and snack, and on to Victoria (beautiful, big city, good seafood). We stayed at the excellent Travelodge Victoria, short bus ride (seniors discount) from city centre.

Day 4 - Drive to Butchart Gardens - spectacular gardens, flower displays, ponds and fountains - and a good restaurant too. Then return to Vancouver on the very scenic Swartz Bay to Tsawassen ferry.

As I said, this may be more than you want to do, but I hope it gives you some ideas.