Vancouver Island: The Facts
Published: June 2009
By Jeff Wise
420 Miles: Vancouver to Victoria Island to Vancouver.
From Vancouver, take Route 99 north a half-hour to Horseshoe Bay and catch the 90-minute ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Follow Route 19 north to the Coombs turnoff; stop at Englishman River Provincial Park to see the waterfall. Continue through Coombs and follow signs for Route 4 to Tofino, a two- or three-hour drive.
After a night in Tofino, retrace Route 4 toward Nanaimo. Ten minutes past Port Alberni, park at Cathedral Grove and explore its massive cedars. Continue southward. Shortly after Nanaimo, Route 19 feeds into Route 1; four miles after the interchange, follow signs to the Bungy Zone. The Aerie, tonight's destination, lies about an hour farther south on Route 1, in Malahat.
Forty-five minutes from Malahat, Route 1 becomes Douglas Street as it enters downtown Victoria. Follow it as far as Belleville Street; make a right, and then another immediate right onto Government Street, where you'll find the Empress.
Turning right out of the Empress, make an immediate right again onto Humboldt Street and follow it straight to Blanshard Street, where you go left. As it leaves Victoria, Blanshard turns into Route 17, which in 45 minutes will carry you directly up the Saanich Peninsula to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. Take the ferry to Tsawwassen, then follow Route 17 north to Route 99 north to Vancouver.
Roughly the size of Holland, Vancouver Island experiences a wide range of climatic conditions, from year-round snowfalls on the glaciers of the mountainous interior to wet but generally mild weather on the coast. Temperatures in Victoria rarely drop below freezing in the dead of winter, and rarely linger above 70 in July and August. Rain is a more significant indicator of season: Be prepared for frequent and heavy downpours between October and March. The high season, from June to mid-September, corresponds not only to the warmest time of year but also the driest (fewer than 10 days of rain per month, on average).
Where to Stay
Wickaninnish Inn Osprey Lane at Chesterman Beach, Tofino; 250/725-3100; doubles $190$215.
Aerie Resort 600 Ebedora Lane, Malahat; 250/743-7115; doubles $130$275.
The Empress 721 Government St., Victoria; 250/384-8111; doubles $215$270.
Where to Eat
Clam Bucket 4833 Johnston Rd., Port Alberni; 250/723-1315; lunch for two $15.
Water Club 703 Douglas St., Victoria; 250/388-4200; dinner for two $35.
Jamie's Whaling Station 606 Campbell St., Tofino; 250/725-3919; whale-watching trips $35$50.
Bungy Zone 35 Nanaimo River Rd., Nanaimo; 250/753-5867 or 888/668-7874; first jump $70.
Hill's Indian Crafts 1008 Government St., Victoria; 250/ 385-3911.