Vancouver Island Getaways: The Best Places to Visit

Aug 31, 2021

Vancouver Island has long been a favourite destination among Travelzoo members and was recently celebrated as one of the world's best islands by Conde Nast Traveller

Discover what all the fuss is about while road tripping to some of Vancouver Island’s wildest destinations, abundant with natural wonders, roadside stops and scenic seaside towns. Connect with your inner adventurer while exploring windswept beaches, hiking snowcapped peaks and walking among the giants in old-growth rainforests.


No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without visiting Victoria. Take an easy ferry ride or seaplane flight from the mainland and you'll arrive in the relaxed British Columbia capital with terrific shopping, buzzing cafes and an elevated dining scene. Wander its gorgeous neighbourhoods and parks or attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Royal BC Museum, Butchart Gardens, Hatley Castle, Craigdarroch Castle, Canada’s oldest Chinatown and Beacon Hill Park.

Central Vancouver Island

Head up the Island Highway to the beach towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach — collectively known as Oceanside — that make for a fun, family-friendly weekend getaway. Qualicum Beach is also a popular retirement community. Goats on a Roof market is a popular place to stop, shop, get ice cream and spot some goats on a grass roof. Nanaimo is one of the two major cities on Vancouver Island, and where you get on and off the ferry if travelling to the Central and North Island or to the Pacific Rim. 

Gulf Islands

Island life is a serene experience for those looking to recharge and connect. The Gulf Islands — which consist of over a dozen islands in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland — take that secluded philosophy to the next level. Characterized by dramatic coastlines and a diversity of plants and animals, these islands have long been a haven for artists, creative spirits and organic farmers with a mild, sub-Mediterranean climate year-round.

Tofino & Ucluelet

Ask anyone from the West Coast where to experience the true West Coast and they will likely say Tofino. The drive alone is worth the trip, winding through old-growth forest in Cathedral Grove and past shimmering Sprout Lake. You’ll feel like you’re at the edge of the world as you walk the expansive beaches in Pacific Rim National Park, the wild region between Tofino and its southern sister village Ucluelet. The area is a paradise for off-the-beaten-path beach lovers and it's one of the best places to learn to surf in the world let alone in Canada. 

Alert Bay & North Vancouver Island

Few folks make it further north than Campbell River, but if adventure is in the cards, then the small village of Alert Bay should be the destination. A scenic ferry hop from Port McNeill, Cormorant Island is home to the small, richly evocative and deeply welcoming community that’s been home to local First Nations for generations. The U’Mista Cultural Centre is an excellent place to experience local First Nations culture and art. 

Want to go beyond Vancouver Island? Browse our Only in Canada collection or check out our member sourced tips on things to do in British Columbia.

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