Explore Vancouver Island

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    Spot orcas breaching from the cold waters
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    Strathcona Park, British Columbia, Canada

    Strathcona Park, British Columbia, Canada

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    Will you be lucky enough to spot a black bear?

    Will you be lucky enough to spot a black bear?

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    Totem poles, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    Discover traditional totem poles

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    Wander along the beaches of Tofino

    Wander along the beaches of Tofino

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    Humpback whale, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

    Whale watching could be the highlight of your trip

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    Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

    Spend an afternoon amongst the flowers of Butchart Gardens

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    Head into the wilderness and stay at Knight Inlet Lodge

    Head into the wilderness and stay at Knight Inlet Lodge

Trip ideas

Duration(in days): 7

From: Vancouver

To: Vancouver



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing)

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or Call 01273 320580

See more ideas for: Canada

    Discover the highlights of Vancouver Island at your own pace. This 7-day round-trip self-drive from Vancouver offers unique access to British Columbia’s best scenery and wildlife with the included ferry crossings, floatplane tour, whale watching and bear watching. Explore Canada’s western coast and beaches on this week-long getaway which is ideal for lovers of the Great Outdoors!


    • Take a float plane transfer to Knight Inlet Lodge on the Campbell River
    • Enjoy scenic ferry crossings
    • Organised bear and wildlife watching opportunities
    • Spot grey whales, humpbacks, sea lions, sea birds and bald eagles on a whale watching cruise
    • Relax on the beaches of Tofino


    Itinerary in brief:

    • 1 night Campbell River
    • 1 night Knight Inlet Lodge
    • 2 nights Tofino
    • 2 nights Victoria

    Day 1: Vancouver to Campbell River  

    This trip begins with a short drive from Vancouver up to Horseshoe Bay, where you will then take the 2 hour and 45 minute ferry to Vancouver Island.

    Once you drive off the ferry, you’ll head north through Vancouver Island’s second largest city, Nanaimo, known as the Harbour City, and also Parksville, which is the beginning of Beach Country. Your destination today is the city of Campbell River, historically known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”.

    Once you reach Campbell River, we really recommend visiting the world famous Discovery Pier, where you can watch the enormous cruise ships venture up the Inside Passage as they head for Alaska.

    Day 2: Campbell River to Knight Inlet Lodge

    Your destination today is inaccessible by road, so instead you’ll get to experience it by float plane. It’s a thrilling 30 minute journey that brings you to the mouth of the Glendale River where your accommodation for tonight - Knight Inlet Lodge - floats on large Cedar booms.

    After you arrive, you’ll be heading out on a bear and wildlife viewing tour, with hopes of spotting the grizzly bears that frequent this area.  This really is a spectacular spot, set amidst the snow-capped peaks of the rugged coastline.  

    Day 3: Knight Inlet Lodge to Tofino (270km, approximately 4 hours)

    This morning you’ll have the opportunity to return to the bear viewing platforms, (don’t forget your camera!) before departing via float plane back to Campbell River.  Once you collect your car, it’s time to head southwest to Tofino, which is located on the rugged West Coast.

    En-route to Tofino, stop at Cathedral Grove. Here you will find the ‘Mars Water-Bombers’ at Sproat Lake. These are the world’s two largest water-bombers, which are used for putting out forest fires.  You can also admire the splendour of 800 year old Douglas Firs and Cedar trees.

    After your pit-stop at Cathedral Grove, drive through the majestic Sutton Pass and the Sawtooth Range of the Cascade Mountains, before arriving in Tofino in time to enjoy the wonderful beaches. This is a beautiful scenic drive, so take your time and enjoy the views!

    Day 4: Tofino

    Spend the day in Tofino, where you have a choice of two cruises.

    Depending on your preference you can pick either the Whale Watch cruise where you head off in search of grey whales, humpback whales, sea lions, sea birds, and the resident bald eagles, or the Bear Viewing cruise, where you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for black bears who head for the closest food source – the ocean!

    Day 5: Tofino to Victoria (320km, approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes)

    Your drive today will take you back to the East Coast of Vancouver Island, making your way south to Victoria.

    You’ll have the opportunity for a few stops along the way – the artist community of Chemainus is well worth a visit, for the giant murals which adorn the exterior walls throughout the town.  Another stop is Duncan, known as the “City of Totems”. We loved its heritage buildings and its unique shops, and it’s a perfect stop for lunch!

    Day 6: Explore Victoria & Whale Watching cruise

    This morning you’ll board an exhilarating round trip cruise in search of orcas, minke whales, grey whales, porpoises, harbour seals, and other marine wildlife.

    The afternoon is free for you to discover Victoria and its turn of the century architecture, British traditions (high tea is a speciality!), and visit its vast array of shops, cafes, and restaurants.

    Day 7: Victoria to Vancouver (70km, approximately 30 minutes)

    Leaving Victoria, a short and very scenic drive brings you to Butchart Gardens. Here you will find 55 acres of wonderful floral displays, where you can wander through and take in the sights and smells.

    Continue north until you reach Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, where you will embark on a 90 minute ferry ride to Tsawwassen. You’ll get to soak up the views of the Gulf Islands as you cross the Strait of Georgia.

    Once you arrive back on the mainland, drive on to Vancouver to finish your trip.


    The season for this itinerary runs from June to October.

    The best times to travel in British Colombia, Canada are from March to May and September to November, this is when you’ll find milder temperatures and bargain hotel rates. May until August is peak season with prices being at a premium and lots of tourist visitors, the summer brings beautiful weather however and is a very popular season to travel to this region. December to February is winter and temperatures can drop below freezing.

    This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.

    What's included
    • Six nights’ accommodation – room only
    • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on day 2/3 at Knight Inlet Lodge
    • BC Ferries tolls for vehicle & passengers
    • Return float plane transfers to/from Knight Inlet Lodge
    • Grizzly Bear viewing at Knight inlet Lodge
    • Whale Watching Tour OR Black Bear viewing Tour while in Tofino
    • Admission to the Butchart Gardens
    • Whale Watching Tour in Victoria
    • Travel documentation, including personalised maps, driving directions, and 1 480 page Canada guide
    • Car rental for 7 days


    Not included
    • Road Tolls
    • Meals, other than lunch and dinner on day 2
    • BC Ferry reservation fee
    • National Park Entrance Fee
    • Tips and gratuities