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Discover what all the fuss is about while road tripping to some of Vancouver Island’s wildest destinations. Connect with your inner adventurer while walking among the giants in the old-growth rainforests and lose yourself on windswept beaches or snowcapped peaks. Abundant with natural wonders, bustling cities and quirky roadside towns, Vancouver Island offers a diverse range of road trips guaranteed to tick items off your bucket-list while creating memories that will last a lifetime. Check out these four routes that are sure to show you the very best this island has to offer. Want a copy to take with you on the road? Download our road trip map.

Did You Know…

  • Vancouver Island is the largest island off the North American West Coast.
  • Vancouver Island stretches 460 km southeast to northwest and has an average width of 100 km with a total of 32,260 sq. km.
  • Vancouver Island is home to approximately 760,000 people.
  • Vancouver Island was voted Best Island in Canada in 2016 by readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine.
  • Vancouver Island offers experiences in whale watching, bear viewing, hiking, culinary, wineries, caving, biking, storm watching, boating, kayaking, golfing, surfing, fishing, and so much more.

 


 

1. Pacific Marine Circle Route

South Vancouver Island Road Trip

Go full circle on Southern Vancouver Island with the Pacific Marine Circle Route. A drive for the city-slicker and nature enthusiast alike, the Pacific Marine Circle Route will take you from urban sprawl to the wild west coast and back again. This 289 km loop starts in Victoria and heads west through the funky oceanside town of Sooke and onto Port Renfrew, where the waves are as big as the drinks are cold. Take a day or more to enjoy the many stunning beaches, quaint cafes and sweeping waterfalls dappled along a winding road through the rain forest while making your way back to Victoria through the City of Totems.

You can start at any of the cities along the eastern side and take the route in either direction, but we suggest coming over through Swartz Bay, settling into the Vancouver Island vibe in Victoria for a day, then hitting the road en route to Port Renfrew.

Both Victoria and Sooke are great places to stock up on supplies before the rest of the trip. Stores become scarce the further west you head, and you don’t want to find yourself without a picnic to enjoy on the beaches.

Must Stop Spots

Sheringham Distillery
True Key Adventures
Adrena LINE Zipline Adventure Tours
Kinsol Trestle

Where to Stay

Sooke Harbour Resort & Marina
SookePoint Ocean Cottage Resort
Wild Renfrew


 

2. Victoria to Tofino/Ucluelet

Cross-Regional Vancouver Island Road Trip

Switch your street shoes for gumboots and put your driving skills to the test with this one-of-a-kind East-to-West Vancouver Island trek. You’ll travel from the major urban hub of Victoria to the untouched old-growth forests of Tofino and Ucluelet, soaking up that island vibe all along the way. World-class accommodations, intoxicating culinary delights and exhilarating wilderness adventures await, but be sure to take it slow through the mountain passes while you enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery.

The distance between Victoria and Ucluelet is about 293 kilometres, and if done in a straight shot takes around five hours. After this first coastal destination, you’ll be making your way up to Tofino, which is roughly another 40 kilometres. Of course, must-stop towns, attractions and eateries along the way extend the trip time, making it the ideal multi-day road trip.

If you’re a first timer to the Island, we recommend getting the lay of the land with this East-to-West trip.

Must Stop Spots

Ladysmith’s First Avenue
Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company
Lady Rose Marine Services
Stamp River Provincial Park

Where to Stay

The Westin Bear Mountain
Plus places to stay in:
Cowichan
Nanaimo
Tofino
Ucluelet

 

3. Nanaimo to Campbell River Oceanside Route

Central to North Central Vancouver Island Road Trip

Take it easy while enjoying all the natural wonders Vancouver Island has to offer with this leisurely oceanside trip from Nanaimo to Campbell River. From sandy beaches and fishing villages to vast valleys and mountainous terrain, this trip offers you a chance to savour it all.

You’ll get acquainted with the beauty of the eastern coastline before the road takes you into the Comox Valley, nestled beside the island’s tallest mountain in Strathcona Provincial Park. 

You can do this trip in just a few hours or take your time with a day trip to delve deeper into the treasure trove of this Central Island adventure.

Further reading: The Ultimate Campbell River Road Trip


 

4. Nanaimo to Port Hardy

Central to North Vancouver Island Road Trip


The longest of the Vancouver Island routes, the Nanaimo to Port Hardy trek also affords the opportunities to take things at full speed. A stretch of 114 kilometres between Parksville and Campbell River —of the total 385 kilometres for this drive—is set at 110 kilometres an hour. Choose your own adventure along one of the longest – and most wild – Vancouver Island road trip routes. This 385 km trip from Nanaimo to Port Hardy varies in travel time depending on the season but its rugged beauty is gorgeous year-round. The potential for animal sightings will have you at the edge of your seats with excitement but you’ll also find comfort in the warm embrace of trees towering around you. The northernmost town on Vancouver Island, Port Hardy is the end of the road – well, at least the paved road, but for the more seasoned outdoors enthusiasts, it’s here that the adventure really begins.

Learn more about planning your Vancouver Island road trip. Visit our regions page to see a visual representation of the island, or check out our how to get to Vancouver Island page for more travel info.