For wanderer souls, Vancouver Island has everything to be an ideal holiday destination. The snow-capped mountains, temperate rainforest and lush valleys rejuvenate both the mind and body. Vancouver Island makes up for a perfect holiday escape, as it is the place where tourists can indulge in skiing, surfing or carry back to over 5,000 years. Witness a pod of Orcas or walk through the world’s beautiful urban park all at one place. For an outdoor adventure, Vancouver Island features snow-capped mountains, lush parks, campsites, adventurous hiking trails, numerous lakes and rivers. To explore and enjoy Vancouver Island, we have complied fifteen popular and must-visit tourist attractions. So, pack your bags and book your flight to any of these two major airports – Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and Nanaimo Airport (YCD) to fly to Vancouver Island.
1 – The Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens with more than 900 varieties of flowers was established in 1904. The 55-acre garden located 15 miles north of the Inner Harbour attracts more than 1 million tourists a year. A visit to the lush garden on a summer evening promises a spectacular treat to both eyes and ears. Thanks to the illuminated lighting and instrumental music show. The garden also has on-site eateries for you to satisfy your gastronomical desires. A boat ride with the family can take your holiday to the next level.
2 – Royal BC Museum
The Royal British Museum is an ideal place to get to know more about the comprehensive introductions of the region’s history and culture. It is one of the best places to visit in Vancouver Island. The museum exhibits tribal artefacts, natural history and various antique items from Colonial-era. For movie buffs, the museum also has an IMAX theatre and a special rotating exhibition.
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3 – Beacon Hill Park
Spread over 75 ha (2,000 acres) along the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait in Victoria, British Colombia, Beacon Hill Park is a must-visit spot in Vancouver Island. The park with two playgrounds, a waterpark, a petting zoo, numerous ponds, tennis courts and the woodland-shoreline trail is home to a vast range of flora and fauna. Take a stroll through the park to catch up with endemic flora like the arbutus, Garry oak, camas, snowberry, Oregon grape and fauna like Swans, Canada geese, turtles and duck.
4 – Craigdarroch Castle
To get a glimpse of the Victorian high life, Craigdarroch Castle is the perfect place. The elegant home built in the late 1800s is a National Historic Site. Though named as a castle, the 39-room structure is more of a mansion with numerous stories of two centuries in stock. A visit to the castle is like a revisit to the 19th century to observe how life was then.
5 – Victoria Butterfly Gardens
A visit to Vancouver Island is incomplete without a visit to the Victorian Butterfly Gardens. The 1,200-square feet garden built on the theme of tropical wetlands homes a wide range of butterfly species from across the world along with a variety of birds and fishes. The garden also has an insectarium with insects and invertebrates from around the globe along with flamingoes and frogs of different species to make it a must-see location for tourists.
6 – Hatley Park National Historic Site
Hatley Park National Historic Site is a magnificent place for history lovers to explore. Located in Colwood, Greater Victoria, the park is also the site of magnificent Hatley Castle, a Classified Federal Heritage Building. The castle built in 1908 served as dormitory and mess hall for cadets and staff officers at the Royal Roads Military College, till 1943. Take a tour of the stunning castle and explore its elegantly curated gardens, royal residence and more. The site contains numerous heritage trees famed for their size, diversity and rarity. Hatley Park has numerous gardens within its premises out of which Italian, the rose and Japanese gardens are prime attractions.
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7 – Chinatown, Victoria
Like any other Chinatown found around the world, Victoria’s Chinatown also carries its own charm and uniqueness. It is one of the perfect places to visit in Vancouver Island. Established in 1911, the town is listed in National Historic Site of Canada. A visit to Chinatown offers a peek into the Chinese Culture. Try a wide range of delicious Chinese food. Also, there are a plethora of shops selling souvenirs and funky trinkets. Chinatown is also famous for having the smallest street in Canada, Fan Tan Alley, just 35 inches wide at its smallest point. A great place to visit and explore with its beautifully lit shops and alleyways. The town has a lot of history attached to it.
8 – Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse NHS
Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site is a 19th-century coastal artillery fort located in Colwood, British Columbia. The fort was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1958. Close to the fort is Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, a lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. The place offers an adventure escape and has secret bunkers, military posts and more. Visitors can also camp overnight for an out of the world experience. There is so much history attached to both the fort and lighthouse. Nearby sites such as the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Langley National Historic Site are ideal for thrilling outdoor adventure.
9 – Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is a 347-hectare park situated at the east end of the town. It is a provincial park in Parksville, British Columbia and features a two kilometre-long stretch of sandy beach. Rathtrevor takes its name from the Rath family who used to live here in the late 19th century. The sandy beach during low tide stretches nearly a kilometre out into the Strait of Georgia. The park also serves as a stopover for migratory birds notably brant geese. Rathtrevor Beach Nature House inside the park is a nature centre and features natural history display and classes on environmental education.
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10 – Long Beach
Long Beach located on the West Coast is the longest beach in Vancouver Island measuring 16 km (10 miles) with both hard and soft sand spread across. On any given day, surfers wading the waves can be easily seen from the beach. The sweeping view of the ocean, sky and endless supply of soft beach sand makes worth spending a day at Long Beach. There are several islands situated on the mid-tidal zone that can only be reached during the low tide. Long Beach is one of the best places to visit on Vancouver Island.
11 – Miniature World
Miniature World museum attracts young and adults to this tiny little world. Located close to the Inner Harbour, the incredible museum houses a plethora of miniature displays and dioramas. The museum has miniature modal of numerous popular things like the Canadian railway and more. For literary enthusiasts, the world of Dickens is the perfect place to take a tour or time travel enthusiasts should check the “Space 2201 A.D.”
12 – Goldstream Provincial Park
The Goldstream Provincial Park situated 11 miles northwest of the Inner Harbour is the abode of a wide range of flora. The stunning beauty is spread across 1,000 acres. The best time to visit the park is during fall and early winter due to the annual salmon migration. Between October and December, various species of salmon such as chum, coho and chinook can be seen swimming against the stream. Also, visit the Goldstream Nature House for educational programmes on annual salmon migration and other activities. The park’s massive cedar trees, rumbling waterfall and abandoned gold mine make it a must-visit at any time of the year.
13 – Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve spread on a 511 sq km (197 sq. mi) comprises of three main regions – the Broken Group, Long Beach and the West Coast Trail. The entire region is characterised by dense rain forest and native Nuu-chah-nulth culture. It is one of the most frequented tourist attractions enticing surfers, marine life aficionados and beachcombers. The place makes a stunning escape, perfect for an adventure trip.
14 – Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria opened in 1951 features iconic works by popular artists such as Emily Carr. It also has a large collection of Asian art offering an in-depth view of the incredible work. The Asian garden located inside the premises of the gallery has the only Japanese Shinto shrine in North America. The Art Gallery is one of the best places to visit on Vancouver Island.
15 – Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is the sole aquarium and cultural centre devoted exclusively to the exploration, conservation and learning of the Salish Sea Bioregion. It is located on the beautiful Sidney waterfront on the lands of the WSANEC Nations and exhibits stunning natural beauty and ecological diversity of the Salish Sea through 28 aquariums. This aquarium has over 3,500 animals and 160 live marine species including giant octopus, pacific salmon and wolf eels. Other major attractions include a killer whale skeleton, collection of Coast Salish native art and locally manufactured and procured jewellery, art and crafts.
Vancouver Island is full of surprises. A traveller will only be able to explore the surprises once he visits the mesmerising city. So, pack your bags, fly and get ready for eternal memories.