Summer is coming, which means it’s time for a great road trip! Beautiful scenery and wide open roads stretch out ahead, with many great stops along the way to your destination. We’ve picked three of our favourite day trips in and around Vancouver Island.
Seattle, WA to Tofino, BC
(Complete trip - 9 hrs 30 min, 491 km)
1. Seattle to Victoria (first half - 4 hrs 50 min, 174 km)
While many people choose to drive the scenic route from Seattle to Port Angeles, in order to board the ferry along with your vehicle, there are a few other modes of transportation worth noting.
Directly from Seattle, Clipper is a passenger only, high speed ferry, taking about two and a half hours. For a little extra money, a float plane is a unique way to travel around Western Washington and the British Columbia coast, or take a commercial flight for the 86 miles from Seattle to Victoria. If you choose one of these options, be sure to rent a car in Victoria upon arrival.
Once in Victoria, be sure to check out the beautiful Butchart Gardens, Royal BC Museum or take a free tour of the Parliament Buildings. Grab a bite to eat along with some delicious coffee at the Marina Dockside Eatery.
As you leave Victoria, make sure to stop at the viewpoint close to the summit to see breathtaking views over Brentwood Bay.
2. Victoria to Tofino (second half - 4 hrs 40 min, 317 km)
Fresh from your sightseeing in Victoria, we recommend driving the two hours to Parksville. Get out and stretch your legs on the famous Parksville Beach and dine oceanside at The Pacific Prime Restaurant.
On your drive, make sure to explore the iconic and rare ancient Douglas fir ecosystem, Cathedral Grove. The biggest trees are about 800 years old and measure 250 feet high and 29 feet wide.
Parksville, BC to Port Alberni, BC
Parksville is home to the beautiful, expansive Parksville Beach. At low tide, the shore reaches almost one kilometre from the water — a beach combing enthusiasts delight! The area is located in a rare, UNESCO protected Biosphere Reserve. Another gem, Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is a 12-minute drive from the beach.
A must see on your drive is the Coombs Country Market. It's not just for the great food that people visit the market, but also the goats on the Norwegian-style grass-covered roof. They are one of Coombs' most famous tourist attractions.
If you don't mind adding 26 minutes onto your trip, Stamp Falls is a neat place to stop and see the salmon swimming up stream.
Once in Port Alberni, there are lots of activities for all ages. The Alberni Pacific "Steam" Railway takes you through the city and surrounding forests, returning you to the historical steam powered sawmill. Reserve a ride on The Lady Rose Marine services to see the wildlife and scenery. There are many wineries to try as well as the local favourite Bare Bones Fish and Chips restaurant.
Along with excellent mountain and hiking trails, Port Alberni has outstanding salmon fishing.
Horseshoe Bay, BC to Parksville, BC
Nanaimo caters to different types of travellers. From the free spirited, the cultural explorer to the authentic experiencer.
Snorkel with the harbour seals, charter a fishing and crab guide. Nanaimo has many lakes and harbours to explore, accesible by Kayak, canoe or paddle boards.
Cedar Yellow Point Artisan Trail Loop will inspire the artists among you. Cruise through the countryside to farmers markets, artisan studios, pubs and cafes. Before leaving Nanaimo, try out the delicious craft beer at White Sails Brewing.
With so many hidden treasure destinations on Vancouver Island, we could fill every day with a new adventure.