Sun showers, blooming wildflowers, and buzzing bees- these are just a few things that we love most about spring. Spring on Vancouver Island is an enchanting time of the year. Full of fresh greenery, blossoms enveloping the landscape, and longer days with lighter evenings- there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular times of year to visit the island. And as the weather warms up, there are new activities and places to discover on every corner of the island. In this article, we’re sharing some of our favourite things to do on Vancouver Island on a springtime trip.
South Island Spring Activities
Victoria: Fire Pits in the Orchard at Bilston Creek Farm
Enjoy early spring’s beauty at stunning Bilston Creek Farm with their outdoor orchard fire pits. Featuring house made lavender marshmallows, a complimentary s’mores kit and roasting sticks- this outdoor activity is perfect for a date night or family-friendly activity.
Book your fire pit experience at Bilston Creek Farm online for April.
Sooke: Sooke Country Market
Starting April 21st, head to Sooke for the Sooke Country Market happening every Saturday from 10am-2pm throughout the summer and early fall. Featuring locally grown vegetables, artisan-made crafts, baking, art, and more- it’s a great opportunity to shop local and get outside. We recommend checking out East Sooke Regional Park while you’re exploring the area, a great coastal park for a springtime walk.
Victoria is filled with incredibly diverse gardens that each offer something unique to fans of floral blooms. Our recommendation for enjoying all of them is to create your own garden tour, and see the variations that each garden offers visitors. Some of the gardens we recommend adding to your itinerary include:
- The Butchart Gardens: Featuring 55-acres of blooming varietals including tulips, magnolias, and daffodils
- Abkhazi Gardens: This picturesque 1-acre garden blends into its surroundings and is a true highlight of Victoria’s natural landscape and native blooms.
- Hatley Castle Gardens: Transport yourself into a fairytale as you wander the castle’s impeccable gardens- the cherry blossoms in bloom are a favourite springtime occurrence here.
- Horticulture Centre of the Pacific: Wander through over 9-acres of incredible garden delights. A favourite stop here is the remarkable Bonsai Garden, an outdoor display of more than 60 bonsai trees.
Victoria: Pet a Goat at Beacon Hill Children’s Farm Now open for the season, Beacon Hill Children’s Farm is a perfect afternoon activity that’s fun for, quite literally, everyone. Featuring goats, pigs, sheep, miniature donkeys, and more- the park is open daily this spring. Located within the grounds of Beacon Hill Park just outside of downtown Victoria, the park is within walking distance from most hotels in central Victoria. Admission is by donation, and booking is not necessary to visit the farm.
Esquimalt: Esquimalt Farmers Market’s Evening Market at Memorial Park Every Thursday starting April 6th from 4:30pm-7:30pm, head to Memorial Park for the Esquimalt Farmers Market. The perfect evening spot to grab some locally made food, drinks, and crafts- the market is a great way to spend a warm and sunny afternoon in Greater Victoria. Some of the featured vendors and food trucks include Ciccio’s Cucina, Bird & Basket Food Truck, Digable Roots Farm, and Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse.
Spring in Cowichan
Ladysmith: Visit Yellow Point Farms Now open for the 2023 season, Yellow Point Farms is the perfect spring destination to explore. Whether you’re picking up locally-made goods at their Farm Store, or stopping by their interactive barnyard and petting farm to cuddle a goat, sheep, mini donkey, or mini horse- there is so much to explore at this fantastic farm destination.
Cowichan: Build Your Own Wine & Cider Tour
Cowichan is home to over a dozen incredible wineries and cideries that make it a must-see destination for vineyard enthusiasts. A great way to experience the region’s immense horticulture and vineyard diversity, we recommend picking some of your favourite stops and making your own vineyard tour. Here are a few favourites we’d recommend adding to your itinerary.
- Averill Creek Vineyard: Features complimentary wine tastings, you can also pre-order a picnic lunch to enjoy with a bottle on their beautiful grounds.
- Rocky Creek Winery: A family-owned business, their outdoor area is absolutely breathtaking to enjoy wine in the bliss of spring’s fresh air.
- Merridale Cidery & Distillery: Merridale features an onsite restaurant and heated patio, so it’s a great spot to hit on some of those colder spring evenings. Don’t miss their live music every Saturday and Sunday, bookings are recommended.
Cowichan: Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour through History
One of the best things about a spring trip to the Cowichan Valley is that there are plenty of walking itineraries that make it easy to explore the region by foot. In Duncan, take on the Duncan Totem Tour Walk located in the traditional territory of the Quw’usun’ (Cowichan) people, which features an extensive collection of publicly displayed totem poles throughout Duncan’s downtown area. And in Chemainus, don’t miss a tour of Canada’s Mural Town featuring murals speckled throughout the area alongside signage that makes it easy to follow along.
Cowichan: Enjoy the fresh air with a round of golf
Thanks to the Cowichan region’s maritime mediterranean climate zone, the area boasts the warmest mean year-round temperature of anywhere in Canada. This makes golfing a perfect spring activity, filled with stunning greens and incredible vistas to take in after you swing your clubs. Check out some of the highlighted golf courses to explore in the Cowichan Valley here.
Spring in the Southern Gulf Islands
Salt Spring Island: Studio Tour on Salt Spring Island
Art enthusiasts will love the opportunity to visit the studios of the incredible artists that call Salt Spring Island home. With over a dozen artists featured on the Salt Spring Studio Tour, create your own itinerary and visit the studios of these makers and artisans on your next trip to Salt Spring. The tour is a great way to encourage you to explore hidden corners and learn a bit about the life of locals that call Salt Spring home.
Galiano Island: Explore the Island by Two-Wheels One of the best ways to experience Galiano Island in the springtime is by slowing it down on two-wheels. Galiano Adventures offers moped (scooter) rentals as well as eBikes so you can explore the island and enjoy the fresh air at the same time. A great way to slow things down, take in the scenery, and try something new while visiting the island.
Pender Island: Explore protected coves by kayak With warm rocky beaches and rolling farmlands, Pender Island is a charming destination that should be on every island-hopping itinerary in the springtime. A favourite way to explore the island’s hidden gems is by kayak, where you can experience the calm tidal zones and protected coves that call Pender Island home. Kayak Pender Island is a great place to start your kayaking adventure, with plenty of tour options to choose from for all levels of experience.
Mayne Island: Go Birding on Mayne Island Keen birders will love exploring Mayne Island and spotting new birds to add to their journals. Spring is a great time to visit and enjoy the variety of birds that call Mayne Island Home. With songbirds, loons, swans, murrelets, and more- the Mayne Island Conservancy is a great place to start if you’re interested in knowing more about the birds of Mayne Island. Check out the BC Bird Trail for more birding tips throughout the island region.
Mid-Island Spring Activities
Nanaimo: Pitch ‘n Putt at Beban Park A fantastic way to spend a sunny spring afternoon with friends and family, take on Beban Park’s 3-par golf course and driving range. A simple and easy course for golfers of all experience levels, there are only 11 holes with short fairways making it accessible for visitors of all ages.
Tahsis: Seeking Adventure? Go Caving and Bouldering Arguably Canada’s caving mecca, caving enthusiasts from around the world come to the hidden gem of Tahsis to explore more than 50km of passages found in the mountains around town. There are several guided excursions that can take you through various formations and cave sites, and experienced cavers can also choose their own adventure and create a self-guided itinerary that’s a perfect fit for their experience level.
Gabriola Island: Visit Paradise Island Alpaca Farm Idyllic Gabriola Island is a short ferry trip from Nanaimo, and a visit with Paradise Island Alpaca Farm is a must on any spring trip to the island. A free activity that’s fun for the whole family, this family-run farm features alpacas, llamas, goats, and miniature horses. During the spring, they are only open on Saturdays making it a great activity to add to your weekend itinerary.
Comox Valley: Enjoy the agricultural delights at the Comox Valley Farmers Market Comox Valley features a year-round market on Saturdays that moves outdoors to the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds every April for the spring and summer season. An agricultural-based farmers market, their vendors include farmers, bakers, herbalists, and select liquor vendors who all craft their products within the Comox Valley region. This is a fantastic place to stock up for a springtime picnic, and to shop locally while visiting the Comox Valley region.
Qualicum Beach: High Tea at Milner Gardens & Woodland
The seaside gardens of Milner Gardens is a great place to watch spring’s early blossoms in the Parksville/ Qualicum area. Make sure you plan a stop at the onsite Camellia Tea Room located in the historic Milner House for high tea and a rotating array of freshly baked treats.
North Island Spring Activities
Port Hardy: Bird Watching in the Spring
Port Hardy is a mecca for bird watching on Vancouver Island. As a major flyway for thousands of species of migratory birds, it’s an excellent destination for birders of all experience levels. Their natural watersheds are a critical habitat for many species making the whole area a birder’s delight. Some of our favourite spots for bird watching in Port Hardy include the Quatse River Estuary viewing platform, and the Fort Rupert Trail located off Storey’s Beach.
Telegraph Cove: Visit Telegraph Cove’s Historic Boardwalk The community of Telegraph Cove and Telegraph Cove Resort is open seasonally between May and September, making it a great spring trip before summer’s peak season. As one of the best kept secrets on Vancouver Island, a visit to their historic boardwalk is perfect for any North Island itinerary. On the boardwalk you can find several restaurants, tour operators, and historic homes that you can book a stay in.
Broughton Archipelago: Find Grizzly Bears on Vancouver Island Starting in May, Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures begins their seasonal tours in search of grizzly bears, whales, and other animals that call North Vancouver Island home. In early spring as the winter snow melts, black bears and grizzly bears emerge from their hibernation and feed on the exposed inlet beaches. Adventure through Knight Inlet with Tide Rip in a comfortable boat with a qualified Naturalist Guide.
Holberg: Visit a Hidden Garden Nestled in the Rainforest: Ronnings Garden was quite literally carved out of the rainforest, and is a hidden gem not to be missed when travelling to North Vancouver Island. Bernt Ronning crafted this homestead garden over a century ago, clearing five acres of rainforest to plant a wilderness garden. The garden is volunteer-maintained, featuring daffodils, bluebells, rhododendrons, bamboos, and more. Located in the remote village of Holberg, you’ll need a car that is safe for rough logging roads to venture to Ronnings.
Spring in the Pacific Rim
Ucluelet: Visit a Catch & Release Aquarium Opening in March each year, the Ucluelet Aquarium highlights the incredibly diverse marine life that calls the waters of Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds home. Their mission is to raise awareness about local marine biodiversity by offering innovative marine displays, touch tanks, and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. At the end of the season, the Ucluelet Aquarium releases its visiting animals back into the wild with their catch and release philosophy.
Tofino: Spring Surf in Tofino
Tofino is an excellent destination to visit in the springtime, especially if you want to avoid the crowds. The sun breaks through the clouds, and the water warms slightly leaving it a great opportunity to try surfing or stand-up paddle boards. For beginner surfers, spring can be a great time to try surfing as the water isn’t as crowded so you can practise your skills comfortably. Beginners can take a lesson from any of Tofino’s lesson hubs including Surf Sister, Pacific Surf Co. or Long Beach Surf Shop to name a few.
Port Alberni: Take a Self-Guided Tour of McLean Mill
A perfect spot for a spring stroll, McLean Mill National Historic Site is open year-round for self-guided tours. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the grounds at your own pace. You can grab a map at the Mill Store to plan your own adventure.