Vancouver Island is one of Canada’s treasures

“On the subject of B.C., Vancouver Island is the place that pulls me in essentially the most,” says Matthew Bailey founding father of

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In 2017, my spouse and I road-tripped throughout Canada from coast to coast to coast. For 150 days we have been on a mission to chronicle the easiest of Canada, together with; icebergs in Newfoundland, the world’s largest non-polar glacier within the Yukon, and the beluga whale migration in Manitoba.


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I’m typically requested what my favorite locations are in Canada? How do I evaluate the Canadian Rockies with the ocean, the badlands with the huge boreal forest? How do I select between the fashionable vibe of Vancouver with the old-world attraction of Quebec Metropolis?

Newfoundland’s Gros Morne Nationwide Park, the Rockies, and Vancouver Island compete, however so does the Dempster Freeway from Yukon to the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands Nationwide Park, and Nahanni Nationwide Park. There’s simply an excessive amount of magnificence to choose one place as a favorite.

The writer and his wife Karla Bailey in Nunavut.
The author and his spouse Karla Bailey in Nunavut.

However relating to B.C., Vancouver Island is the place that pulls me in essentially the most. From misty rainforest to rugged shoreline, it’s simply certainly one of my favorite locations to discover and among the finest locations to get near all kinds of wildlife.


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Like anybody who visits this charming metropolis, we made positive to spend a half-day roaming across the magnificent Butchart Gardens, and took a taking a strolling tour to find out about its historical past earlier than heading to Port Renfrew to start our wildlife journey.

Whereas all of Vancouver Island appears like a breath of recent air, Port Renfrew, quiet and rugged, takes issues to a different degree. We stayed at Wild Renfrew, a set of gorgeous cabins proper alongside the shoreline. It was technically the final day for whale watching season, however they organized a tour for us with Orca Spirit Adventures.

The water was so calm that it was an attraction in and of itself. Easy as glass, it was laborious to inform the place the water and sky met on the horizon.

The dream-like state got here to an abrupt finish minutes after leaving the port, when a Humpback determined to breach proper subsequent to our boat, exhaling the fishy-smelling water throughout my face. It was a smelly however lovely second.


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We discovered our selves within the midst of a pod of Humpback whales. And minutes later they was joined by a pod of orcas. I might look to my proper and see a dozen Humpback tails protruding of the water earlier than seeking to my left and seeing orcas gliding out and in of the water in opposition to the backdrop of the misty shoreline. I even noticed an orca leap fully out of the water, maybe placing on a present for the Humpbacks.

Whale watching with Orca Spirit Adventures.
Whale watching with Orca Spirit Adventures. Photograph by Matthew Bailley

From Port Renfrew, we headed as much as Nanaimo. Geared up with heavy-duty wetsuits (dry fits are most popular), we jumped within the water with Sunset Diving.

We didn’t see lots of sea-life on that specific dive, however I’ll at all times bear in mind the swimming scallop. Do you bear in mind these plastic wind-up chattering-teeth toys that had toes? You’d wind them up and so they’d scurry throughout the desk. Properly, that’s what the swimming scallop jogged my memory of. Our information  tickled it’s shell and off it went.


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Our subsequent journey was snorkelling with seals! Anchored close to Snake Island, we left the oxygen tanks within the boat and snorkelled in the direction of the island the place harbour seals lay within the solar. Lots of them ignored us, however after a couple of minutes, a child seal swam up, adorably rolling round and observing me with large spherical eyes, because it it swam round me, even bumping its little nostril into my GoPro.

Subsequent up, we drove to Campbell River to have a novel snorkelling expertise – solely this time in a river.
It additionally felt like extra of an journey as a result of relatively than go along with a tour, we rented snorkelling gear and did it ourselves.

Campbell River is house to an enormous salmon run when hundreds of thousands of salmon return to the coast of British Columbia. It’s the one place I do know of the place you possibly can swim with the salmon as they make the journey to their freshwater spawning grounds.


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Because the river strikes fairly quick, we jumped right into a sluggish shifting pool, close to a logging bridge off Gold River Freeway 28. From right here, we let the present take us again to city. Most of my focus was on making certain I didn’t bang into something, however now and again, a salmon would swim subsequent to me. It was a jarring, but magical expertise that I’d like to relive on my subsequent journey to the island.

Our subsequent journey made me rethink how secure it’s to affix salmon on their journey. Grizzlies aren’t discovered on the island so we jumped on a ship tour with Eagle Eye Adventures and headed up the Toba Inlet to affix Klahoose First Nation guides to go discover grizzly bears.

From the second we left Campbell River, we knew we have been in for an unbelievable day; we noticed porpoises alongside the best way, and plenty of cliffs with waterfalls tumbling into the ocean.


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At Bute Inlet we employed indigenous guides for a strolling tour, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than we started to see grizzly bears on shore. I watched because the bears went about their routine of strolling over fallen logs or catching salmon.

We have been advised that this is among the only a few locations the place you possibly can see lots of grizzlies at one time. Usually, fights would ensue over the territory, however with the immense quantity of meals throughout them, there was no must struggle.

Watching grizzlies with Homalco Wildlife Tours.
Watching grizzlies with Homalco Wildlife Excursions. Photograph by Matthew Bailey

To cap off our wild Vancouver Island expertise, we drove throughout the island to the charming surf-town of Tofino, stopping solely to hug the large timber of Cathedral Grove.

Tofino is the right method to finish an journey. I’m undecided if it’s the perfect place to start out an journey as it’s possible you’ll by no means need to go away, nevertheless it’s an amazing place to finish one as there are such a lot of beautiful seashores to roam round and chill out on.

Apart from spending half-a-day taking surf classes in Cox Bay, and getting tossed round like a pair of denims in a washer, we principally walked the shoreline and reminisced on the unbelievable wildlife encounters we had over the week.

Because the day started to dwindle away, we discovered ourselves a giant piece of driftwood to make use of as a seat as we watched the sundown paint the sky with pink and orange hues.

Matthew Bailey is the founding father of, a web site that showcases the perfect of Canada. He’s been to 42 nations, 6 continents, and each province and territory in Canada.



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