Winter is just around the corner on Vancouver Island, and with a change of seasons comes a fresh batch of ways to explore the elements.
In this edition of Island Moments, we’re celebrating the best all the best the season has to offer. From mountain-top hikes to underground explorations and festive activities for everyone in the family, there’s no shortage of events and activities across the region at this time of the year.
If you’re planning to escape for a little Island time this winter, here are some of the best ways to take advantage of unique experiences offered this season only.
This summer, grab your sunblock and favourite towel and ride the waves on and around Vancouver Island. With over 10,000 lakes and rivers to choose from, and over 3,400km (2,138 miles) of ocean shoreline, there’s an aquatic adventure available to everyone. All you need is a love of the water,…
This summer, grab your sunblock and favourite towel and ride the waves on and around Vancouver Island. With over 10,000 lakes and rivers to choose from, and over 3,400km (2,138 miles) of ocean shoreline, there’s an aquatic adventure available to everyone. All you need is a love of the water, time to enjoy yourself, and an urge to explore.
Dip your paddle in the cool, clean water and pull yourself towards the horizon, enjoying the breeze, calm waves, and gentle sounds – connecting and enjoying this single moment as your board skims the open water.
Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) on Vancouver Island is a relaxing activity that’s accessible to all ages and experience levels. It’s easy to learn and hard not to love, and has quickly become the fastest growing watersport in the world.
What you do on your board is entirely up to you, and with so many pro-watersports communities to choose from, the selection is nearly endless. Explore the tiny islands and hidden coves of Lake Cowichan, or get a glimpse of the glacier from a perspective few have access to on Comox Lake. Stretch your body and mind in a SUP yoga class on the Gorge waterway in Victoria or with a group floating on the sheltered waters of Brentwood Bay.
Glide across the water and watch the aquatic world around you. Guided tours can bring you to the hidden spots around the Island, where you can watch for animals foraging on the beach, eagles hunting in the skies, and whales spyhopping on the horizon. SUP and kayaking tours are available to explore the Salish Sea, or grab your gear and catch a salmon on your SUP at sunset, proving that you are the ultimate angler. SUP truly is a sport for everyone.
For beginners of all ages and surfers looking to improve their technique, there’s a great variety of experienced, professional instructors available throughout the Island, willing to show you how to get the most out of your time on the water. The Island is one of the best places in the world to learn how to SUP safely and respectfully.
Catch a Break
Jordan River, a 45-minute drive from Victoria, is home to fantastic surfing all year long, with massive waves in the stormy season and great breakers all year long. The surf culture in Tofino is amazing, with friendly guides available to help you spend more time above the waves than in them, and a huge range of accents to listen to over beverages and tasty treats in the local eateries. From beginners to pros, the world surfs the waves of Tofino, and it’s hard to find a friendlier group than the members of the local surf community.
Add your sail to the seascape on the shores of Dallas Road in Victoria, where kite surfers and windsurfers take advantage of the stiff breeze to race atop the waves or sail above the cliffs. Ride the swell as the ferry docks in Departure Bay, letting the ocean breeze carry you across the harbour, or join the substantial kiteboarding community in Port Alberni, to feed your need for speed on the open water.
The boardsports available on Vancouver Island are truly fantastic, and accessible to young and old, newbies and experts. Life is better on your board.
No board? No problem
The Island is home to a great selection of rental outfits that can help you find the board and equipment you need to enjoy your time on the water, on a board or in a boat. However you like to connect with the water, you’ll find a number of ways to do it right on Vancouver Island.
Boarding isn’t the only way to enjoy the waters of Vancouver Island. Kayak the isles and inlets of the shores in the North Island region or explore the rocky and sandy shores of the Gulf Islands. Charter a cruiser to discover the best fishing holes in the Pacific, filled with massive halibut, energetic salmon, and a great selection of trophy-sized fish that make you earn every inch of line you reel in.
Crack into a fresh-boiled Dungeness crab right on the beach at Rupert Arm, near Port Alice, with a billion stars overhead; no light pollution means you can see just about every single one.
Stroll the sandy beaches of Beaver Harbour Park (the locals call it Storey’s Beach) in Port Hardy, or head to Parksville to watch the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition in July and August, or wander Qualicum Beach and fill your pockets with sand dollars at low tide.
Catch a rainbow in Thetis Lake or a cutthroat in Cowichan. Steelhead salmon are available year-round on Vancouver Island, and the White River near Campbell River, the Stamp River near Port Alberni, the Cowichan River by Duncan, and Gold River on the eastern side of the Island are just a few of the rivers deemed ‘high producing’ for the numbers of steelhead caught in these waters each year.
Dive into the cool, clean, and clear waters of Vancouver Island. Splash away your stress and soak up the sun. The Island attracts people who love water: enjoying the cool waters of Thetis Lake near Victoria, cruising on a houseboat on Sproat Lake in the Alberni Valley or Lake Cowichan, just east of Duncan, or splashing in the tidal pools of Fanny Bay. St. Mary’s Lake, the largest on Salt Spring Island, and Long Lake, in the heart of Nanaimo, offer crisp, fresh water swimming that cools and reenergizes with every drop.
The rivers and lakes, shores and streams of Vancouver Island, from Port Hardy and Port McNeill in the North, Tofino and Ucluelet in the east, the Comox Valley in the west, and Victoria in the south, offer some of the world’s best waters to satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Respect the water, enjoy yourself, and explore the huge variety of aquatic adventures available on Vancouver Island.
Brush strokes and bokeh. Glazes and galleries. Masks and museums. There must be something in the water on Vancouver Island that enhances creative ability, because the Island is disproportionately endowed with a multitude of creative talents across a wide variety of genres. From the Island’s First People, whose influence can…
Brush strokes and bokeh. Glazes and galleries. Masks and museums. There must be something in the water on Vancouver Island that enhances creative ability, because the Island is disproportionately endowed with a multitude of creative talents across a wide variety of genres. From the Island’s First People, whose influence can be traced back over 8000 years, to today’s crop of talent across a variety of mediums, there’s something to intrigue everyone with an appreciation for art and culture.
Vancouver Island is home to an incredible selection of creative talents showcasing artistic styles and abilities from around the world. Explore your creative side by participating in an artist’s workshop, taking a self-guided studio tour, or visiting a local art gallery.
Throughout the Island and neighbouring Gulf Islands, there is a fantastic selection of art studio tours to connect with the artists and see where creative ideas are born, developed, and realized. The Central Island Studio Tour showcases studios and workshops between Parksville and Campbell River, where you can watch the artists and artisans work, turning artistic vision into reality. Quadra Island offers a Discover the Arts tour in June, with many studios open year-round. Annual events, such as the Hammond Bay Studio Tour in Nanaimo and the Salt Spring Studio Tour feature local artists that speak passionately about their inspirations and executions.
In June, the ArtSea Studio Tour features the painters, sculptors, jewellers, weavers, potters, carvers, and other artists in North and Central Saanich and Sidney by the Sea. This self-guided tour visits the artists’ studio, where you can see their creative process in action while learning about the artists’ passion. With 26 venues – including a winery – and 36 artists, there’s something special for everyone.
Each August, the Filberg Festival celebrates the best of Canada’s arts, crafts, and music. Recognizing excellence in all forms of arts and crafts, this annual event is one of western Canada’s largest juried outdoor art shows. Enjoy the live entertainment, a Kids’ Enchanted Forest, and a delicious selection of food and beverage options from local vendors while exploring this unique venue in the Comox Valley.
Experience and appreciate the unique exhibits, artifacts, and interpretive displays of the Island’s First People. Learn about the culture of the First People of Vancouver Island, and how they share the symbols and stories of their heritage with the world. The tall totems of Alert Bay, petroglyphs in Nanaimo and Port Hardy, Aboriginal art galleries in Port Alberni and Courtenay, and the Living Languages exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria are just a few of the spaces to discover and experience the Aboriginal culture of Vancouver Island.
Arts and culture thrive on Vancouver Island, and there’s a venue to explore artistic expression in pretty much every community. From fine art to urban expression, master craftspeople and emerging artists, you’ll find substantial beauty on and around Vancouver Island.
throughout Vancouver Island