As summer starts to approach we find ourselves planning a trip into British Columbia almost yearly and this summer was definitely one for the books. (You can read about our previous trips here.) The usual places of interest are always on the mainland but this year we thought it would be best to venture onto the island for some much needed exploring. If you’ve never visited Vancouver Island don’t be too upset as you’re not alone! Many locals haven’t even explored the Island as much as we did this summer. With an area of over 32,000 square km’s it’s easy to miss a few spots. However, our over-landing on Vancouver Island this summer proved that even 5 days doesn’t cut it for how much land mass there is to cover.
In order to reach the Island one has to get onboard one of the many ferries that travel between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Our over-landing took us from the Tsawwassen terminal over to Schwartz Bay in Victoria. If you’re looking at travelling to the Island click here to check on the ferries daily schedule. Make sure you book ahead during peak busy times and save yourself the long wait in line. You might get lucky and avoid the massive lineups but you’re always taking a chance if you forfeit purchasing ahead.
Schwartz Bay Terminal on Vancouver Island
Our over-landing trip to Vancouver Island brought us into Schwartz Bay terminal in Victoria. When we arrived we found a spot to set up shop and make breakfast before venturing around Victoria and beyond. Although it was July the weather on the Island can be quite windy and chilly so make sure you have sweaters and maybe even a pair of sweats. Especially for the ferry ride over! The pacific winds can be quite intense but also very mesmerizing. We have heard of many visitors watching dolphins and whales swimming along the ferries but we didn’t see much on our trip. Guess we’ll have to head back another time.
Our truck is equipped with an ARB roof-top tent as well as space inside for sleeping. Seeing as we never book any camp spots before we head out we always opt to “wing it” when it comes to finding spots to sleep. One of the best tools at our disposal is an app called “iOverlander”. This app has come in handy on many occasions and we have found some amazing as well as some sketchy camp spots! Be sure to download before your trip and get familiar with using it. Also don’t rely on every tracked spot as some have not been visited in years and have since been closed or disappeared all together. Not to mention that everyone has different rigs so each spot will be unique to each individual. We prefer to go off the beaten path and find secluded spots but aren’t always so lucky. Walmart parking lots aren’t always the best option but when that’s all you’ve got you make the best of it!
Exploring West Vancouver Island
Once you head North from Victoria make sure you travel west into Tofino and Ucluelet on highway 4. There aren’t many spots to camp along this stretch of highway but the beauty is beyond exceptional. Not to mention when you do find a spot taking a dip in the river that runs along the highway ensures utter privacy. As we explored Tofino and Ucluelet we managed to get in some much needed walking to stretch our legs. Not to mention the viewpoints from this side of the island are some of the most breathtaking. But as always grab a sweater! The fierce winds of the Pacific are no joke.
North Vancouver Island and other random stops
Although the land mass is quite large for an island the roads are definitely not. Since the island has so many natural and untouchable places it can be tough to see everything by car. If you take highway 4 to the west side you have to take the same road back out to venture north side of the island. Which means you can see things twice but also from a different vantage point. After all road tripping is all about perspective so seeing things twice means you see things from a different angle.
Once we left the west we ventured further north to our final destination of Port Hardy. Along the way we stopped in Comox (sweaters are definitely not needed here) and Campbell River. Both amazing towns to visit and worth the drive through at least.
Port Hardy and the cutest campground ever
One of the highlights of this particular over-landing trip was Port Hardy. Located at the very end of highway 19 on Vancouver Island lies a sleepy town of roughly 4000 residents. We arrived early evening and stumbled upon what in our opinion was the cutest and most charming campground we ever laid our heads at. We tend to try and find free campsites but we couldn’t pass this opportunity to stay here for one night. This place was truly magical. Although we stray from campgrounds of this nature all together with power and flushing toilets we had to make an exception. Welcome to Wildwoods Campsite! Family owned for over 50 years, this campsite is the most eclectic and quintessential campground you’ll ever visit. With over 25 sites to choose from and from power to no power, there is nothing but pure magic and love here. This family has endowed this area with their souls and hearts and as we spent an evening chatting with the owners we learned a whole lot more than just the history of this magical place.
I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful
– an endless prospect of magic and wonderAnsel Adams
Galiano Island Stopover
OK, ok, so we know we said Port Hardy was one of the highlights but Galiano was the most beautiful hands down. We were lucky enough to get a locals perspective as well as a personal tour of this island which made this spot a key feature of our journey. As you can tell from the images this island is on another whole level of beautiful. With only 25km of explorable land mass you can’t go far but there is something cosmical about this island which just draws you in. There’s an island myth that Galiano won’t let it’s residents leave. Although shrouded in some very strange events that have taken many previous islanders to their final death, this Island is worth visiting but maybe not living on for extended periods of time?! You will have to be judge!
The Journey home is always bittersweet
After spending 10 days on the road it was time to head home but not without stopping in Osoyoos in the Okanagan. This city is also one of those must stops as it boasts some of the warmest weather in all of Canada. No wonder many snow birds flock here in the winter. We even lucked out and managed to secure a camp spot at the Hayes Point Provincial Park. Although it is the was the most expensive place we found to camp we felt like we earned the luxury of this “glamping” campground. And the views weren’t too bad either!