Travel + Leisure
February 24, 2010


Towering mountains, cedar forests, ocean views—Mother Nature was kind to the island. Don't miss a hike to Skutz Falls, where the speeding rapids of the Cowichan River Corridor run through an exceptionally scenic canyon.ACTIVITIES/SIGHTS

Biking, kayaking, whale watching, and driving are must-dos, but be sure to spend time strolling pretty Victoria. Our favorite spot: Butchart Gardens, planted with hundreds of varieties of flowers (musicians play from May through September).RESTAURANTS/FOOD

Top chefs have formed the Island Chef's Collaborative, whose mission is to create dishes using only local ingredients (wild mushrooms, organic produce, fish). Taste the results at the Aerie in Malahat or the Sooke Harbour House.PEOPLE

Canadian friendliness reigns. Catch the laid-back vibe in the second-largest town, Nanaimo, where you can also learn about the history of the island's various settlers at the Nanaimo District Museum.VALUE

With the Canadian dollar worth just 65 percent of its U.S. counterpart, practically everything on Vancouver Island is a steal. At Victoria's highest-rated hotel, the Fairmont Empress, doubles begin under $200.

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