Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island lies along the western coast of British Columbia and has many different landscapes, with lush forested areas, snow capped mountains, rippling hills and fantastic beaches.

Covering an area of 32,134 sq kilometers, Vancouver Island is the largest of North America's west coast islands. The Island is 454 kilometers in length and 100 kilometers in width. As of 2002 it has an estimated population of 750,000, with 326,000 of these living around Victoria.

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, situated near the southeastern tip of the island. It is the most British of all Canadian cities and attracts a large amount of tourists every year. A great downloadable ebook for tourists or new residents is Frommer's Vancouver and Victoria 2004 - full of great information.

The weather can be very wet during the winter months with an average rainfall of 121.8 mm in January alone. However, it does not suffer with the cold temperatures and snow other parts of Canada get with very few days below 0 C.

In the summer months it enjoys warmer temperatures with an average daily high of 21.9 C in July and only an average of 19.5 mm of rain. Due to very little snow and mild temperatures outdoor pursuits are popular all year round.

There are many different activities to keep you entertained on the Island. Whale watching is a very popular excursion with plenty of companies offering boat or seaplane trips. Off the West coast of Vancouver Island a major whale migration occurs in mid winter, approximately 20,000 Pacific grey whales make their journey north to Alaska. Migration is at its peak during March and April when there is a Pacific Rim Whale Festival.

The beaches on the island are fantastic and are located all around. The Rathtrevor Provincial Park located near Parksville has a massive expanse of sand and warm shallow water. The drive across the Island from Parksville to Tofino is remarkable and the reward waiting for you is the Pacific Rim National Park which is famous for its 30 kms of sandy beaches.

After a recession in the 90's the Housing and Rental Market is a lot cheaper than the mainland with some beautiful properties available. Many Canadians retire on the Island due to its mild climate and amazing scenery.

You can travel to and from the island by air or sea. Several airlines operate flights to Vancouver Island International Airport which is located 22 kms north of Victoria and there are flights from Vancouver to Nanaimo Airport which is 18kms south of downtown Nanaimo.

There are several routes between the mainland and Vancouver Island which are operated by BC Ferries. The crossing times vary from 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the route and introduces some fantastic scenery on the way as you pass through the Gulf Islands.

Vancouver Island is a fabulous location that many canadians (and new residents like us!!) choose as their vacation destination. If you are interested in learning more about the outstanding natural beauty of the area visit Patrick Walshe's Coastal Revelations Hiking Tours excellent and well informed site.