Vancouver Island Travel Guide

Dubbed Canada's 'Paradise on the Pacific', Vancouver Island is an exquisite combination of dense rainforest, pristine coastline, rugged mountains, glittering glaciers and crystalline lakes and rivers, all within an easy distance from the mainland of British Columbia.

The island is 285 miles (460km) long and 50 miles (80km) wide, with the Vancouver Island Ranges running down most of the island's length, dividing it into a drier, undulant east coast and a wetter, rockier west coast.

Known as the Pacific Rim, the rugged west coast is littered with bays, inlets and fjords, boasting beautiful landscapes and a diversity of wildlife. This makes it a popular spot for tourists, who come to indulge in hiking, fishing, kayaking with orcas, whale watching, and more. But the area does receive some of the heaviest precipitation in the world and visitors should plan activities around the possibility of heavy storms in winter and plenty of rainfall throughout the year.

Inland, one finds dozens of lakes (the largest of which is Kennedy Lake). Dominating the central part of the island is the popular Strathcona Provincial Park, home to the island's glaciers, including the largest, the Comox Glacier, as well an abundance of birds and wildlife that includes Roosevelt Elk, bears, cougars and wolves.

There are two ski resorts on Vancouver Island: Mount Washington in the central part of the island, and the smaller Mount Cain to the north. Mount Washington offers a range of downhill, cross-country, snowboarding, snowmobiling and winter camping opportunities, while Mount Cain is community-owned and offers a less commercial experience away from the crowds.

Victoria, on the southern tip of the island, is the capital of British Columbia, and home to just under 50 percent of the island's population. The city is a major tourist destination and visitors flock here to enjoy its many sights and sounds, including the Legislative Buildings, The Empress Hotel, Craigdarroch Castle and the famous Butchart Gardens. Vancouver Island is well worth a visit and with so much to see and do, visitors can hardly ever be bored.