Just Returned From → Golden & Invermere, British Columbia. Headed To → Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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Discover Why Vancouver Island is Canada’s Number-One Vacation Destination

The Empress Hotel - Victoria Inner Harbour

Head to my home and Canada’s Pacific Gem, Vancouver Island — and treat yourself to one of these tourist delights!

In This Vancouver Island Article You Will Discover:

  • Where to Surf on Vancouver Island
  • Where to Go Fishing on Vancouver Island
  • Where to Find the Best Restaurants
  • Where to Find the Best Shopping & Dining and More!

Vancouver Island is Canada’s Hawaii. One of the premier tourist destinations in the country, there is no shortage of activities: indoor, outdoor or extreme! So, fly in to one of the Island’s full-service airports and start your vacation today!

Surf at Long Beach

There are scarcely the words to describe the magnificence of the Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Sure, you can stroll the long, sandy beach or hike through the rainforest, but the best way to experience it is to get right in the thick of things: surf the wild waves. Surf lessons and/or rentals are available in the towns of Ucluelet and Tofino, which flank the number-one surf destination, Long Beach. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you’ll soon find out why Outside magazine recently ranked Tofino as North America’s Best Surf Town! www.tofino-bc.com

Catch Some Spring Skiing

Think the ski season is over? Not quite! Open until late-April, Mount Washington Alpine Resort is just a short jaunt from Comox Airport. And the spring season offers some of the best skiing — enjoy great corn snow, occasional dumps of powder and scarce crowds. (Not to mention shoulder season rates!) Come and see why Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of BC’s top ski destinations. www.mountwashington.ca

Have Tea at Murchie’s

British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria is like a little taste of Great Britain, right in your own backyard. And no single destination typifies this more than Murchie’s Tea House, in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. This British-style tea parlour offers gourmet teas, delicious British fare (meat pies, anyone?) and an atmosphere perfect for chatting, or for reading the novel you just bought at Munroe’s Books (next door). It’s a true Van Isle original, and a must do for any visitor. www.murchies.com

Explore Strathcona Park

British Columbia’s oldest Provincial Park, Strathcona is as wild as you want to be. Covering an incredible 250,000 hectares, much of the park is virtually inaccessible for anyone but the most intrepid adventurers. Day hikes do exist, but the best trip you could take is the multi-day trip into Della Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall. Plan well and take caution, this is not Stanley Park. This is real adventure for real adventurers. www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/strath/

Reel in a Big One

Fish on! Vancouver Island is known worldwide as one of the premier fishing destinations in the world. There are too many locations to list, but whether you cast for bass, fly fish for trout, troll for salmon or jig for halibut, Vancouver Island will satisfy. Some of the key locations to consider are Campbell River, for accessible salmon fishing; Tofino and Ucluelet, for open-water angling; Victoria-area, for bass in certain lakes and salmon fishing in the ocean; the North Island, for brown and cutthroat trout… and, well, the list goes on and on and on.

Dine in the Inner Harbour

Victoria’s Inner Harbour is one of the most pleasant, most scenic and most romantic urban locations in British Columbia. On any given evening, the lights of the Parliament Buildings will flank one side, the historic Empress Hotel looms overhead, street performers juggle, sing and tell jokes by the water and a ring of restaurants offers fare from around the world. Take your sweetheart to a fine dining experience! A sample of locations include The Empress Room; Red Fish, Blue Fish; Chandler’s Seafood; Pescatore’s Fish House & Oyster Bar; Wharfside Seafood Grille; Nautical Nellie’s; Bravo Restaurant & Lounge; The Canoe Brewpub; The Keg; Swan’s Restaurant & Pub; Darcy’s Pub; Milestone’s Bar & Grill; and a whole host of pubs and other eateries.

See the Giants of the Sea

Whales — that’s right, whales! Right at your doorstep! Vancouver Island is a premier whale-watching destination, and there are spots to see these giants of the deep right next to major airports. For example, tours run out of Victoria, Campbell River, the Comox region — but for the best, head to either the West Coast (Tofino, Ucluelet or Port Renfrew) or to Telegraph Cove or Port Hardy in the northwest corner of the Island.

Visit the Premier

Would you like to see the British Columbia government at work? Maybe make sure they’re working at all? Well, maybe you won’t be able to sit in on parliament, but if you’re in Victoria, a tour of the Parliament Buildings is in order. Who knows, you may just see Gordon Campbell roaming the aisles…

Golf, Golf, Golf!

Vancouver Island is one of the only places in Canada where golf is a year-round activity. There are no shortages of courses on the Island, but if you want to set up camp in Golf Central, head to Qualicum Beach. Staying in this sleepy, picturesque burg puts you within an hour’s drive of literally dozens of fantastic courses, from par-threes, to executive courses, to intermediate links, to world-class, uber-challenging courses. Swing on. www.visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com

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Image courtesy Tourism Victoria

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

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