Vancouver Island is the ultimate summer outdoor destination. Where boutique breweries sit at the foot of towering mountains, ancient forests clear to reveal hidden gardens, and migrating whales cruise past kayaks on sparkling bays. The air is fresh, the food is delicious and drinks are best served in a hot tub overlooking the wilderness. There’s no better way to enjoy the long awaited Canadian summer than on Vancouver Island.
One of the best places in the world to witness Orcas up close, Vancouver Island is also on the migration path for humpback whales, Pacific grey whales and a host of other marine life. The whale watching season runs from April through to October, so summer is prime time to see these incredible mammals on their annual migration. Tours leave from Tofino, Ucluelet, Telegraph Cove, Alert Bay, Port McNeill and Victoria.
Hot Springs Cove
Untouched geothermal hot springs in the heart of the northwest coast wilderness, Hot Springs Cove should definitely be on your summer Vancouver Island bucket list. The springs are only reachable by boat or seaplane from Tofino, followed by a 30-minute walk through stunning ancient forest to the springs. The pools, which cool down as they cascade toward the ocean, provide the ultimate isolated indulgence experience.
More than a century ago, local Jennie Butchard began to transform her family’s former quarry into a spectacular sunken garden. The gardens have remained in the Butchart family ever since, and today are home to a stunning array of over 900 varieties of plants blooming from March through to October. 23 kilometres north of Victoria, the gardens are a welcome escape from the heat of summer.
Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries
There’s nothing quite like a long afternoon drink overlooking the untouched beauty of the Pacific. Vancouver island is home to a host of unassuming breweries and Brewpubs offering creative tipples alongside tempting local cuisine. You’ll also find artisan ciders at Merridale Estate Cidery and premium vodka and gin distilled at Island Spirits.
An island with incredibly beautiful forests and mountains, rugged coastlines and deep blue waters, this is a seriously beautiful place to go kayaking. Head to Telegraph Cove and hire a kayak for a day exploring the Johnstone Straight and surrounding islands. Take a picnic and pull up on a remote beach for lunch and a mid-summer dip.
Wining & Dining
Vancouver Island is something of a hidden treasure when it comes to food. Dotted with countless farms, fresh food markets, seafood docks, locally made cheeses and wineries, you’ll eat very well on Vancouver Island. Take a self-guided or guided wine tour of one or all of the four wine regions that make up the “Wine Islands”. Head to the Cowichan Valley, Saanich Peninsula, Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, or across to the Gulf Islands of Salt Spring, Pender and Satura for relaxed, but fine dining and popular vintages and fruit wines.
There are myriad day and multi-day hikes you can do on Vancouver Island, and with the flora in full summer bloom, there’s no better time to do it. A popular route is the 47 kilometre Juan de Fuca Trail that follows the western coastline of the southern part of the island.