Isn’t it funny how quickly things can change? Without wanting to dwell too much on current goings-on, as I feel like that’s all I’ve been talking about recently, life has a strange way of really throwing those curve balls at you when you least expect them. Just over a year ago I was just starting my life here in Canada. Now, here I am 12 months later, feeling more distant from my loved ones than I’ve ever felt (and I haven’t lived in the same country as pretty much all my family for a good 20 years). But, moving swiftly on, I decided I needed a mental break from everything going on and if I’m feeling like that, then probably you are too. So, I thought what better time than now would there be to share some photographs from Stu and I’s *first* Canada trip last June when we went to Vancouver Island for a few days?
Now, I know popping over to an island that’s part of the same province you’re already living in might not sound huge. But when you remember that British Columbia, which is just one of the 10 provinces and 3 territories that make up the vastness that is Canada, is more than 3.5 times the size of the United Kingdom, you might change your mind slightly. Think of a trip to Vancouver Island as being like driving from London up to Scotland and you might start to realise the epic size of this place.
I had no idea how long it would take us to get to our first destination on Vancouver Island. We decided to explore a couple of places before we had to head into the province’s capital, Victora, where Stu was going to be working for a couple of days. So we started with Tofino, a tiny little community well-known by surfers around the world apparently!
From Chilliwack, we drove to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and caught the ferry across to Nanaimo. Then started the long and, at times, precarious drive across the island to Tofino. We left at around 8 am and finally arrived in Tofino in the early evening.
This sleepy little town is so picturesque. It sits right on the tip of a peninsula so there’s one road in and out. And it is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking sea views you could imagine.
We stayed at The Maq Hotel, which was just finished restorations. From the outside, this hotel didn’t look like much but it was definitely a great little space inside. On our first night, we arrived moments before a power cut took out the whole town so we had to queue to eat at one of the only restaurants with a generator! But the food was great, the harbour views were perfect and we were in holiday mode, so what the hell!
Highlights of Tofino, for me, were discovering the botanical gardens on our last day there, finding the beautiful Long Beach as the sun started to lower and then making it back to Tofino harbour for the loveliest sunset.
From Tofino, we drove back towards Nanaimo, stopping at the glorious Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park on the way. The towering Douglas firs were more than a little bit spectacular to see.
We drove south from Nanaimo (after stopping for lunch at the Old Country Market which was an amazing place) to an incredibly remote part of the island called Port Renfrew. I knew, when I’d searched for a place to stay, this was fairly remote. I just hadn’t realised quite HOW remote it was. Phone signal dropped out fairly quickly, as did radio signal! Suddenly we just had conversation to rely on as we traversed some very interesting roads to get to our destination!
We stayed at the Soule Creek Lodge, so high up in the hills that we were above the clouds. Dinner was an experience! The food was excellent and I loved the peace and quiet of the venue. Hopefully, next time, I’ll get the opportunity to test out one of the Yurts!
We drove along the southern coast back towards Victoria and found some beautiful spots along the way.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots of the few days we were in Victoria as it was mostly work-related! But we did manage to squeeze in a fabulous afternoon tea at the Pendray Inn and Tea House which really is worth a visit if you’re ever in Victoria! And the ferry ride back to the mainland was beautiful as well.
For us, it was the perfect little taster of the island and we’ll definitely be going back for more visits in the future. What about you? Have you been to Vancouver Island? Where would you recommend?