13 Vancouver Island Road Trip

By Josh Wicks @the.vagrant.optimist

Vancouver Island is an ideal place for a road trip. For those seeking an authentic Canadian travel experience on the west coast, here's a list of places to stop and things to do from the bottom of Vancouver Island to the top.

Vancouver Island Road Trip Map

Vancouver Island Road Trip Places

  • Port Hardy
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Pat yourself on the back! You drove all the way to Port Hardy. The highway has run out of road and you should treat yourself to a memorable camping experience on the banks of the Quatse River. If you haven't seen any bears on this road trip yet, Port Hardy is a good place to take a guided tour. It's also well known for its caves. There are cave adventures available for novice and advanced spelunkers.

  • Port McNeill
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Not far from Telegraph Cove is Port McNeill, the gateway to Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park. Here you'll find excellent boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Port McNeill is also a great spot to settle for the night. Alder Bay RV Park and Marina is 30 acres of land with over 100 sites offering different levels of service.

  • Telegraph Cove
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Telegraph Cove is an old fishing village that comes to life in the summer months when eco-tourists flock by car and sea-plane for some of the best whale watching and hardcore fishing. There is a spacious forest campground for camping and a marina resort with fine dining if you want to get fancy. Also, if you've traveled this far up the island and are looking for work, this is the place to ask around for a simple job that can pay very well.

  • Sayward
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Sayward is a small village that offers outfitter services to some incredible hiking, camping, and canoe adventures in the area. It's definitely worth it to stop here and see what's available. If you're not on any schedule, consider a canoe trip you'll never regret.

  • Campbell River
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      If you like salmon then welcome to the salmon capital of the world! Campbell River is another place with a great community-based culture that you can feel almost immediately upon entering the town. There are some fun attractions here including the Elk Falls suspension bridge and a small batch whiskey distillery. Plus, you gotta try the salmon.

  • Courtenay
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      The Courtenay-Comox area is a beautiful place to cruise around, find farmers' markets, grab lunch, and possibly even settle in for the day. If you're looking for something sweet and filling check out Bigfoot Donuts. They live up to their name.

  • Cumberland
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Cumberland has got the hippy vibe going strong! It's worth checking out this close-knit community of young eco-conscious families living sustainably and happy in a cool little home-steady town surrounded by lots of nature.

  • Qualicum Beach
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      A great place to grab lunch and even have a swim right on the side of the road.

  • Arbutus Grove Provincial Park
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Farther on up the highway, past Nanaimo you'll start to see some gigantic Arbutus trees. By this time you'll probably want to stop and stretch. Arbutus Grove is a great spot for just that. Enjoy a quick walk through the forest of these gentle giants. Take a deep breath and notice how fresh the air is here. Now you're ready for more miles (I mean, Km's).

  • Bamberton Provincial Park
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Bamberton Provincial Park is an agreeable favorite for campers and Boon-dockers alike. Its 225-meter long sandy beach is a great sight to wake up to and walk on with a morning coffee. If you love it here, you'll love the rest of the Cowichan Valley.

  • Goldstream Trestle home at the rock tunnel.
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Get some fresh air on this satisfying 2-hour hike on an abandoned rustic railroad track that goes over a trestle bridge. It's advised not to walk on the trestle bridge as there are no safety sidings or supports and spacing between beams is inconsistent and slippery. That being said, it's definitely worth it to walk there and snap some incredible photos. There's something magical about walking along an old train track.

  • Victoria
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Obviously, you've got to make a stop in the Capital City of British Columbia. You could spend days here- treating yourself to all the great Happy Hours or sampling a plethora of artisanal craft beers from some of the best breweries, but don't get sidetracked. Grab a tall-as-the barn sandwich from Red Barn Farmer's market, stock up on some snacks for the trip, and get on Highway 1.

  • Sidney
    • the.vagrant.optimist

      Welcome to Sidney by the sea. If you came to Vancouver Island in a car, this should be your first stop. Sidney doesn't have a ton of attractions, but it's a nice un-assuming place to start a road trip. If you like gin, you must visit the local distillery which makes the most magical looking gin you've ever seen.

  • Port Hardy

    Pat yourself on the back! You drove all the way to Port Hardy. The highway has run out of road and you should treat yourself to a memorable camping experience on the banks of the Quatse River. If you haven't seen any bears on this road trip yet, Port Hardy is a good place to take a guided tour. It's also well known for its caves. There are cave adventures available for novice and advanced spelunkers.

    December 21, 2020
  • Port McNeill

    Not far from Telegraph Cove is Port McNeill, the gateway to Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park. Here you'll find excellent boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Port McNeill is also a great spot to settle for the night. Alder Bay RV Park and Marina is 30 acres of land with over 100 sites offering different levels of service.

    December 21, 2020
  • Telegraph Cove

    Telegraph Cove is an old fishing village that comes to life in the summer months when eco-tourists flock by car and sea-plane for some of the best whale watching and hardcore fishing. There is a spacious forest campground for camping and a marina resort with fine dining if you want to get fancy. Also, if you've traveled this far up the island and are looking for work, this is the place to ask around for a simple job that can pay very well.

    December 21, 2020
  • Sayward

    Sayward is a small village that offers outfitter services to some incredible hiking, camping, and canoe adventures in the area. It's definitely worth it to stop here and see what's available. If you're not on any schedule, consider a canoe trip you'll never regret.

    December 21, 2020
  • Campbell River

    If you like salmon then welcome to the salmon capital of the world! Campbell River is another place with a great community-based culture that you can feel almost immediately upon entering the town. There are some fun attractions here including the Elk Falls suspension bridge and a small batch whiskey distillery. Plus, you gotta try the salmon.

    December 21, 2020
  • Courtenay

    The Courtenay-Comox area is a beautiful place to cruise around, find farmers' markets, grab lunch, and possibly even settle in for the day. If you're looking for something sweet and filling check out Bigfoot Donuts. They live up to their name.

    December 21, 2020
  • Cumberland

    Cumberland has got the hippy vibe going strong! It's worth checking out this close-knit community of young eco-conscious families living sustainably and happy in a cool little home-steady town surrounded by lots of nature.

    December 21, 2020
  • Qualicum Beach

    A great place to grab lunch and even have a swim right on the side of the road.

    December 21, 2020
  • Arbutus Grove Provincial Park

    Farther on up the highway, past Nanaimo you'll start to see some gigantic Arbutus trees. By this time you'll probably want to stop and stretch. Arbutus Grove is a great spot for just that. Enjoy a quick walk through the forest of these gentle giants. Take a deep breath and notice how fresh the air is here. Now you're ready for more miles (I mean, Km's).

    December 21, 2020
  • Bamberton Provincial Park

    Bamberton Provincial Park is an agreeable favorite for campers and Boon-dockers alike. Its 225-meter long sandy beach is a great sight to wake up to and walk on with a morning coffee. If you love it here, you'll love the rest of the Cowichan Valley.

    December 21, 2020
  • Goldstream Trestle home at the rock tunnel.

    Get some fresh air on this satisfying 2-hour hike on an abandoned rustic railroad track that goes over a trestle bridge. It's advised not to walk on the trestle bridge as there are no safety sidings or supports and spacing between beams is inconsistent and slippery. That being said, it's definitely worth it to walk there and snap some incredible photos. There's something magical about walking along an old train track.

    December 21, 2020
  • Victoria

    Obviously, you've got to make a stop in the Capital City of British Columbia. You could spend days here- treating yourself to all the great Happy Hours or sampling a plethora of artisanal craft beers from some of the best breweries, but don't get sidetracked. Grab a tall-as-the barn sandwich from Red Barn Farmer's market, stock up on some snacks for the trip, and get on Highway 1.

    December 21, 2020
  • Sidney

    Welcome to Sidney by the sea. If you came to Vancouver Island in a car, this should be your first stop. Sidney doesn't have a ton of attractions, but it's a nice un-assuming place to start a road trip. If you like gin, you must visit the local distillery which makes the most magical looking gin you've ever seen.

    December 21, 2020