Vancouver Island was the first stop for our Canadian road trip. To get there, we spent the night near the ferry dock in Anacortes, WA, and took our car on a ferry the next morning through the beautiful San Juan Islands. With one short stop at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, we completed our international journey landing in Sidney, BC on the big island before noon. Aside from some low clouds at the beginning of the ferry ride, once the sun broke through the weather has been stellar the entire week with bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.
Our condo was at Pacific Shores in Parksville, about a half hour northwest of Nanaimo, and we were happy with the accommodations and the location. We have been to Victoria a number of times and Nanaimo briefly, but never spent this amount of time as a couple on this part of Vancouver Island. We were really looking forward to getting to know the area.
During the week, we explored much of this side of the island with drives along the seaside and hikes in the surrounding forests. We found quaint small towns, like Qualicum Beach, for art shopping, parks in which to play cribbage, and excellent restaurants. In fact, we’ve had some of the most memorable meals we can remember while here. Of course, seafood is a big feature of local menus and we found it to be quite good.
Our favorite experience this week involved taking a 3 hour drive across the middle of the island on narrow and winding roads to the west coast town of Tofino. This picturesque fishing and eco-tourism town is at the very western end of the Trans-Canadian Highway and is known as “the end of the road”. Again, we had excellent food and awe-inspiring views of water, islands, and snow-capped mountain peaks. It actually reminded us of some places we have been in the Alaska panhandle. We took our most beautiful hike of the trip that day through old-growth forests along the tops of cliffs overlooking the sea. Every now and then you could take side trails down to pristine beaches and coves that felt very private. We expect to go back to Tofino again in the future!
Despite how wonderful this week has been, we keep reminding ourselves that it’s only the beginning and we still have another nine days left to explore more of western Canada. Next stop is the city of Vancouver, one of our favorite cities in the world. What fun to be on vacation together in such a great place!