Take the Traveller Quiz Super, Natural British Columbia

Traversing the southern half of Vancouver Island, this road trip will take you across distinct regions and landscapes—urban, rolling countryside, and coastline. Consider it your road map to adventure, the journey between city dweller to island local. Around each bend is a new sight, whether that’s landmark Douglas Firs towering over the highway or sparkling blue waters of the ocean inlets.

The distance between Victoria and Ucluelet is about 293 kilometres (182 miles), 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.

Part 1

Victoria To Ladysmith

89 km | 1.5 hours

The first leg of your trip will take you up-island through beautiful Cowichan, “The Warm Land,” home to over 700 farms and named “Canada’s New Provence” by legendary food writer, James Barber. If you’re looking to get a good night’s rest in before launch, we recommend the Westin Bear Mountain, where you can wander the on-site trails or play a round of golf on one of their award-winning courses. After some West Coast-style R&R and if time is on your side, make a pit stop in Duncan to explore the City of Totems, or Chemainus (a quick detour off the highway) to view over 60 historical murals throughout the town, the first of which date back to the 80s.

Before too long you will arrive in Ladysmith, a quaint seaside town with a bustling main stretch. First Avenue plays host to sweet boutique shops and unique local businesses, and in 2017 was named “Canada’s Great Street” by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Charging stations

  • Ladysmith Town Centre 721 1st Ave Ladysmith BC

Must Stop Spots

  • Chemainus Murals

    102-9799 Waterwheel Crescent, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K0

Where to Stay

Part 2

Ladysmith to Parksville

52 km | 1 hour

Once you’re back on the road, look forward to Parksville’s sandy beaches, downtown boutique shopping and great libations. En route, you have options. You can fast-track and take Highway 19 directly to Parksville, or if you’re feeling you’re on “Island time,” stay on Highway 1 (the Island Highway) to travel through Nanaimo – a classic West Coast community. 

Once you’ve arrived in Parksville, we recommend a walk along the boardwalk before you head to Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Co for a cold one – our favourites are the Arrowsmith Blonde and Sea Run Saison. Don’t be afraid to fill a growler and take it with you for a night cap later on! 

If your arrival in Parksville means you’ve reached the end of your day of travel, it’s here that you’ll find the glamping experience that has received global attention – the Free Spirit Spheres. These suspended spherical tree houses make for a magical overnight experience among the trees. In the mood for a beachfront stay? Book in with Tigh-Na-Mara resort to wake up along the shores.

Charging stations: 

  • Parksville Civic and Technology Centre, 100 Jensen Avenue East
  • Parksville Community Park 193 Beachside Drive Parksville BC
  • The Beach Club Resort 181 Beachside Drive Parksville
  • Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort 1155 Resort Way Parksville

Must Stop Spots

Where to Stay

Part 3

Parksville to Port Alberni

48 km | 45 minutes

From Parskville, get onto the Highway 4A towards mystical Port Alberni. This portion of the route will take you across the width of the island, dropping you off in a region between the Pacific Ocean and the Beaufort Mountain range; these ancestral lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth, translate to “all along the mountains and sea”. Here, we recommend exploring one of BC’s best regional museums – the Alberni Valley Museum.

If you’re spending some time here, visit Lady Rose Marine Services and rent a kayak or canoe to explore the Broken Group Islands and Pinkerton Islands/Sechart Channel area of Barkley Sound. If time is really on your side, you can take their water taxi to the Broken Group Islands or Sechart Lodge – located at the historic site of the Pacific Whaling Company. 

Last but not least, we recommend a stop at Stamp River Provincial Park. Relax by the waterfall, hike the trails and check out the river rapids before getting back on the road. 

Charging stations: 

  • Port Boat House Ltd – Port Alberni 5410 Argyle Street Port Alberni
  • Victoria Quay 4406 Victoria Quay Port Alberni
  • Port Alberni – Hospitality Inn 3835 Redford Street Port Alberni

Gas stations: 

  • 3702 Port Alberni Highway *Note: This is the last gas station between Whisky Creek and Port Alberni (34 km)

Important Notes

  • Cell phone service is spotty or unavailable along this part of the route

Must Stop Spots

Where to Stay

Part 4

Port Alberni to Ucluelet

101 km | 1 hour 45 mins

Departing Port Alberni means you’ve really made it to remote Vancouver Island.  This is the longest stretch of road between destinations, so be sure to fill up your tank before you hit the road. Once you’re on Highway 4 (Pacific Rim Highway) don’t be surprised if you lose cell phone service for a while along this winding and beautiful road towards Ucluelet (“Ukee”, as the locals call it). We recommend regrouping and stretching your legs at one of the two rest stops.

Once you reach Ucluelet, wander around the quaint seaside town that is quickly becoming a bustling resort and adventure tourism destination. A must-see stop is the Ucluelet Aquarium, Canada’s first collect-and-release aquarium. The maritime town is also home to access points on the Wild Pacific Trail – a family-friendly trail that is great for bird watching, storm watching and collecting great photos of your trip. If you prefer to see the land from the sea, book in a guided tour of the Barkley Sound, Broken Group Islands or Pacific Rim National Park Reserve with Majestic Ocean Kayaking.

Charging stations: 

  • Black Rock Resort – CS90 596 Marine Drive, Ucluelet

Gas station: 

  • 7581 Pacific Rim Hwy, Port Alberni, BC Note: This is the last gas station between Port Alberni and Ucluelet

Important Notes: 

  • Cell phone service is spotty or unavailable along this part of the route

Part 5

Ucluelet to Tofino

40 km | 40 minutes

The final leg of your road trip will take you to world-renowned Tofino via Highway 4 (Tofino Ucluelet Highway). Along the way, you can stop at Wickaninnish Beach to watch the surfers, or walk the beautiful and accessible Rainforest Trail.  Old-growth rainforest, wide open ocean and quiet inlets await you in town, as well as a spectacular culinary scene, galleries and boutique shopping.  

This is the perfect place to wrap up your trip with an adventure that is inherently West Coast – surfing. Visit one of the many surf shops in town and book into a lesson – it won’t be long before you get up on your feet. If you prefer to be out of the water than in it, storm watching may be more your thing. Luckily, it’s Tofino’s thing too. In the winter months, witness dramatic skies and ocean swell in between bursts of sunshine. 

Charging stations: 

  • Jamie’s Rainforest Inn 1258 Campbell Street Tofino
  • Pacific Sands Beach Resort 1421 Pacific Rim Hwy Tofino
  • Tofino – Wickaninnish Inn – CS90 500 Osprey Lane Tofino
  • Ocean Village Beach Resort 555 Hellesen Dr Tofino

Gas station: Co-op Gas Bar 2076 Peninsula Rd, Ucluelet, BC V0R 3A0 *Note: This is the last gas station between Ucluelet & Tofino

Important Notes: Cell phone service is spotty or unavailable along this part of the route


Victoria

Victoria, BC, Canada

Westin Bear Mountain

1999 Country Club Way, Victoria, BC V9B 6R3

Chemainus Murals

102-9799 Waterwheel Crescent, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K0

Ladysmith

Ladysmith, BC, Canada

Ladysmith

Ladysmith, BC, Canada

Mount Arrowsmith Brewing

425 Stanford Ave E #109, Parksville, BC V9P 1V9

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort

1155 Resort Dr, Parksville, BC V9P 2E3

Parksville

Parksville, BC, Canada

Parksville

Parksville, BC, Canada

Alberni Valley Museum

4255 Wallace St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 3Y6

Stamp River Provincial Park

83MJ+FP Beaver Creek, Alberni-Clayoquot D, BC

Swept Away Inn

1-5505 Argyle St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 1T6

Port Alberni

Port Alberni, BC, Canada

Port Alberni

Port Alberni, BC, Canada

Ucluelet

Ucluelet, BC, Canada

Ucluelet

Ucluelet, BC, Canada

Tofino

Tofino, BC, Canada

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