Tofino had been on our family bucket list for longer than I can recall. A destination that everyone swooned about but yet never materialized to earning a spot on the annual calendar for a trip. So this year, when a friend asked, “Wanna come?” we jumped on the chance and made our reservations as soon as bookings opened!
At approximately 32,000 square kilometers, Vancouver Island is the largest island on the West Coast of North America. Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is located on the island, as well as many spectacular ocean-side communities. Vancouver Island is home to an endless supply of hikes, beaches to explore, historic sites and great places for adventures!
Victoria – Day 1
Vancouver Island is just that, an island, making access available only by ferry or plane. I have always loved the ferry rides, any chance for a close encounter with the ocean is considered a good day to me! There’s nothing like sitting out on the deck, with the warm sun beating down on you while you look out across the world class scenery and pinch yourself and say, “I live here!”
Tip: Make reservations for your Vancouver Island road trip during peak seasons! While there’s an extra fee of approximately $18 it’ll save you the headache and help you maximize your vacation time.
My kids had collected pamphlets at the beginning of our Vancouver Island road trip on the ferry and were so excited that they were going to be able to experience WildPlay. They had heard all about it from their friends and my son was especially excited to try zip lining! Fortunately, WildPlay didn’t disappoint! The challenging and diverse ropes course had the kids pushing themselves outside their comfort zones and yelling “yippee” once they tackled a difficult section of the course.
Fort Rodd National Historic Site
Fort Rodd is a West Coast artillery fortress that was active from 1895 to 1956. You can tour through secret bunkers, visit original 19th century buildings and explore Fisgard Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on Canada’s West Coast. For our Vancouver Island road trip we had booked an oTENTik at Fort Rodd National Historic site, allowing us extra time to explore the grounds, and dig a bit deeper into the local history. When we first arrived the kids tore open their parks Xplorers program booklet and were off, running through the grounds doing everything from discovering echos to playing checkers in the lighthouse.
When the park had closed it was time to set up camp, and WOW, was this site one of the most welcoming and well equipped parks we’ve ever been to. From a private kitchen and seating area, to fridges and supplied dishes, to board games for the kids, the volunteer hosts made sure we had absolutely everything we could need and more for our stay!
After heading into downtown Victoria for the night we came back around 9:30 pm and discovered that the lighthouse was completely lit up. We ran to the top of the hill above the lower battery and overlooked the bright lights shining out from the historic lighthouse. My kids cuddled in my arms and the warm ocean wind softly blowing our hair created a picture perfect moment that I can honestly say was one of my biggest highlights of our summer.
Victoria – Day 2
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
This fascinating stop is great for all ages. The butterfly gardens allow visitors to have a unique up close and personal experience in a tropical jungle environment. Discover leaf cutting ants and other interesting bugs in their new insectarium before getting nice and toasty in the tropical garden area. Stepping inside you are instantly surrounding with the most beautiful butterflies, all free to fly and roam as they please. You might even end up with one on your shoulder! Be sure to keep your eyes open for their feathered and scaled friends who like to hide up in the trees.
A visit to Victoria isn’t complete without experiencing the downtown Victoria Harbour. The streets are lined with amazing restaurants and shops, all which look out over the iconic Victoria Harbour. Tourists flock to the well known attractions, like the Empress Hotel and Parliament Buildings. Be sure to look for the smaller attractions, like the city approved street entertainment and artisans, the smaller locally owned shops, as well as the sweet treats and eats that have locals and tourists lined up 30 people deep!
Tip – Give yourself at least a couple hours in downtown… there’s so much to see and do!
Downtown Victoria – Harbour Boat Tour
One of my favourite ways to experience the downtown core is to get out on the water and see it from a different perspective. I love taking the water taxi’s that sweep you from point to point around the harbour. Not only do you get a little educational tour, but you can also hop off at different points of interest, like the famous Fisherman’s Wharf!
Eagle Wing Tours