The Ultimate Vancouver Island Road Trip Itinerary

Are you read for an epic road trip on Canada’s west coast? Do you love wild beaches, ancient forests, roaring waterfalls and big views? If that sounds like you, you’re going to love a Vancouver Island road trip.

I’ve spent lots of time on Vancouver Island over a lifetime and I’m so glad to share all the best places to go on your Vancouver Island road trip. This article starts with some basics for trip planning and then provides a 5 day and 7 day itinerary. If you have less than 5 days, I recommend spending them in the Victoria area or going from Nanaimo out to Ucluelet and Tofino and back. To see both those places and to get to the remote North Island, give yourself 5-7 days. If you have more time, I have lots of ideas for how to spend it at the end of the article.

Road tripping around Vancouver Island gives you the opportunity to travel on the lands of many First Nations people, including the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwakaw’akw People. Indigenous Tourism BC is an excellent resource for learning about First Nations culture and businesses across the province, including on Vancouver Island.

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How far is Vancouver from Vancouver Island?

The ferry terminal in Tsawwassen is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. That ferry takes you to either Swartz Bay (Victoria) or Nanaimo. The Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal where you catch the ferry to Nanaimo is about 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

Ferry crossing times are:

  • Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay – about 90 minutes
  • Tsawwassen to Nanaimo – about 2 hours
  • Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo – about 1 hour 45 minutes

Taking the ferry to Vancouver Island with a car

A ferry in the water in a small cove just away from the dock. There are forested mountains around the cove.
A BC ferry departing from Horseshoe Bay

You’ll need a car for your Vancouver Island road trip. You can rent a car in Victoria or Nanaimo (which makes the most sense if you are flying into one of those cities). If you are driving from home somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, or if you are renting a car in Vancouver, Seattle or elsewhere, you’ll need to bring the car on the ferry to get to Vancouver Island.

You have three options for taking the ferry with a car to Vancouver Island

  1. BC Ferries from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay – this is the best option if you are including Victoria on your road trip itinerary. The Tsawwassen terminal is south of Metro Vancouver and relatively close to the US border. Swartz Bay is about a 45 minute drive from Victoria.
  2. BC Ferries from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo – If you aren’t going to south end of the island (Victoria and the Pacific Marine Circle Route) then you want to take the ferry to Nanaimo. You can take the ferry from the same terminal in Tsawwassen, or you can take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay (which is more convenient if you’re starting on the north side of Metro Vancouver or Whistler).
  3. Black Ball Ferry (the Coho) from Port Angeles to Victoria – If it’s more convenient for you to get to Port Angeles than Vancouver, this is the best option for you.

Which ferry option should you choose? I recommend choosing the one that’s the most convenient to where you are coming from and going to on the island. It works well to take one ferry over to Victoria and return from Nanaimo. This is what I like to do and recommend to others because it gives you more variety and less back tracking at the end of the road trip.

The BC ferries run more often than the Coho from Port Angeles, and reservations are highly recommended for all ferries if you are bringing a car.

If you want to mix things up and combine one of these Vancouver Island road trip itineraries with the Sunshine Coast, you can also take the ferry from Courtenay to Power River and then you’ll need to take two ferries along the sunshine coast to get back to Vancouver.

How long does it take to drive around Vancouver Island?

Because of the limited road system on Vancouver Island, you can’t exactly drive around it. Most places you’ll be driving out and back on the same roads. An exception to this is the Pacific Marine Circle Route, which makes a 260 km (160 mile) loop around the south part of Vancouver Island. The loop starts and ends in Victoria, taking you to Port Renfrew and Cowichan Lake (Days 1 and 2 on the itineraries below).

Sample driving times (not including stops and construction) are the island are:

  • Victoria to Nanaimo – 90 minutes
  • Nanaimo to Tofino – 3 hours
  • Tofino to Campbell River – 3.5 hours
  • Campbell River to Port Hardy – 2.5 hours

When is the best time of year for a Vancouver Island road trip?

You can do a Vancouver Island road trip any time of year, though there are some seasonal considerations to keep in mind:

  • Summer – the longest days and the warmest and driest weather. Expect construction delays in summer and more expensive and harder to find lodging and camping. All tours are operating and businesses are open. This is the best time for high elevation hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park as well as beach days for soaking up the sun.
  • Fall – Cooler and wetter weather but more availability in lodging. Some businesses may be closed or have more limited hours
  • Winter – Storm watching is popular on the coast as well as winter sports in Strathcona Park and skiing at Mt Washington or Mt Cairns. Lower prices and easier to find lodging, though many businesses may be closed or have limited hours and most tours are not operating. Short and very rainy days led to slower driving conditions
  • Spring – Cool and wet spring days are often before the crowds, construction and highest prices arrive. Some tours will be operating and whale watching can be especially good as gray whales migrate past on their way to Alaska. Waterfalls are epic!

How is cell phone service on Vancouver Island?

Cell phone coverage is excellent in the main towns on Vancouver Island. Most of the highways have at least some service, however there are significant dead zones.

There’s no service outside of towns north of Campbell River, or between Port Alberni and Ucluelet. Make sure to download maps, music, podcasts, audio books and anything else you might need in preparation.

If you are not Canadian, you will be roaming on the Canadian network. Check with your cell service provider to find out if there is an additional charge for this (it could be significant, but you may be able to change your plan so it’s included).

Electric Vehicle Charging on Vancouver Island

EV charging is more abundant on Vancouver Island than you might expect, given how many remote areas there are. Charging is abundant in the greater Victoria area as well as Nanaimo. Beyond that, I recommend using Plugshare and your vehicle’s range to determine if you can make this trip in an Electric Vehicle.

Fast charging is available at the Port Renfrew Community Centre, the Pacific Rim National Park Visitor Centre in Ucluelet, Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Courtenay, Campbell River, Port McNeill and Port Hardy.

My EV has a very limited range so I can do some portions of a Vancouver Island road trip, but not all the way to the north island.

Where to stay on your Vancouver Island road trip

If you are camping on your Vancouver Island road trip, BC parks is an excellent resource for finding camping, along with iOverlander. Expect campgrounds to fill up frequently, especially in busier areas in summer (not so much on the north island).

If you’re looking for a hotel or vacation rental, expect high prices and things to book up very early for summer. This map can help you find a place to stay that’s in a convenient location as well as compare prices. It’s centered on Nanaimo, but you can expand it to see the whole island.

5 Day Vancouver Island road trip itinerary

If you can get to Victoria the day before, you’ll have a whole day to explore Victoria, which I highly recommend. If that doesn’t work in your itinerary, you can also arrive in Victoria on Day 1.

This itinerary has you staying in Parksville between Port Renfrew and Ucluelet, which I recommend so you can experience the different coasts of Vancouver Island (Victoria, Parksville and Ucluelet/Tofino), but you can also drive all the way to Ucluelet on day 3 and spend two nights there instead. See the 7 day itinerary for details on this.

DayRouteHighlights
1VictoriaCity of Victoria
2Victoria to Port RenfrewGoldstream Provincial Park, town of Sooke, beaches, giant trees
3Port Renfrew to ParksvilleCowichan Valley, waterfalls, beaches
4Parksville to UclueletWaterfalls, giant trees, lake picnics, Pacific Rim National Park
5Ucluelet to Nanaimo Beaches, Port Alberni, more waterfalls and forests

Day 1: Exploring Victoria

A colorful orca sculpture is in the foreground and a large stone hotel in the background. It's a blue sky day.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the Empress Hotel. Find the colorful Orca sculpture near the Prince of Whales dock

Driving Distance: None, unless you’re driving in and out of the city (or arriving in Victoria this day)

Where to sleep: A hotel in downtown Victoria (walking distance to inner harbour) or camping at Goldstream Provincial Park.

Highlights in Victoria

There are so many amazing things to explore in Victoria! On a short visit, make sure you get a chance to at least walk around the Inner Harbour and take in the shops on Government Street. Afternoon tea is a great way to start off your trip as well as Butchart Gardens (which is a good stop between the ferry and downtown Victoria). Pro tip – have your tea at Butchart Gardens!

If you want to stretch your legs, go for a walk around Beacon Hill Park and see the world’s largest free standing totem pole, or head out along Dallas Road for a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca or along the breakwater.

Day 2: Victoria to Port Renfrew

Black rocks at the edge of the ocean with waves crashing on them. Distant mountains are visible across the water from the beach
Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew

Driving Distance: 111 km (69 miles). Allow at least 2 hours of driving time.

Where to sleep: Cottage or Lodge in Port Renfrew or camping at China Beach Campground.

Highlights from Victoria to Port Renfrew

The drive along the coast of Vancouver Island opposite Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is absolutely stunning. Make sure to stop in the small community of Sooke, with wonderful farm (or sea) to table food in a beautiful setting. You can rent kayaks here for even more exploring.

As you continue, you’ll have the opportunity to visit numerous beaches along the Juan de Fuca trail. Mystic Beach and Botanical Beach are a couple of favorites but you can’t go wrong on the beaches here! Botanical Beach is particularly known for it’s stunning tidepools nestled into the black rocks.

Port Renfrew is particularly well known for its enormous old growth trees, so make some time to explore the famous forests.

An old growth forest on a Vancouver Island road trip with a giant gnarled tree in the center
Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew. At the time of this writing (June 2022), Avatar Grove is temporarily closed for restoration. Photo Credit: Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht

Day 3: Port Renfrew to Parksville

Driving Distance: 173 km (107 miles). Allow at least 2.5 hours of driving time

Where to sleep: Hotel in Parksville or camping at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Highlights from Port Renfrew to Parksville

Cowichan River Provincial Park is a wonderful picnic stop or place to stretch your legs on a hike. Swimming is also an option here at the day use area. Pay attention to signs and current conditions as the river conditions can change rapidly.

Ladysmith makes for a fun stop in this seaside town with plenty of historic buildings and charming shops.

A marina with a blue building at dusk in the town of Ladysmith on a Vancouver Island road trip
View of the wharf in charming Ladysmith. Photo credit: Tourism Cowichan/Jordan Dyck

Waterfall lovers should not miss beautiful Englishman River Falls before arriving in Parksville.

The main highlight of Parksville is beautiful sun drenched beaches so make sure to arrive early enough to spend some time at the beach.

A gravel beach at low tide with distant forested mountains.
One of Parksville’s beaches

Day 4: Parksville to Ucluelet

Driving Distance: 147 km (91 miles). Allow at least 2 hours of driving time.

Where to sleep: I like to stay in Ucluelet instead of Tofino because it’s a bit more low key and quieter. There are a number of hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds in both towns and in between them. If you’re looking to save money, try camping along the way before you get to Ucluelet or finding a hotel in Port Alberni instead.

Highlights from Parksville to Ucluelet

There are so many wonderful things to see on this stretch of your Vancouver Island road trip that I have an entire article just about this part!

Make sure to stop at Little Qualicum Falls for a beautiful pair of waterfalls on a loop hike that takes about an hour. The trail doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain but it does have some and there are quite a few rocks, roots and mud.

A waterfall crashing between rock walls covered in moss and ferns in a forest at Little Qualicum Falls between Nanaimo and Tofino on a Vancouver Island road trip
Little Qualicum Falls in early summer

Cathedral Grove is another stunning area of old growth trees that you don’t want to miss. The area on the north side of the highway is a board walk so a good place for wheelchairs, strollers and anyone who doesn’t want to navigate a lot of mud and roots. There’s an additional trail on the other side of the highway that’s a little rougher for those who prefer that.

Old growth trees with a boardwalk winding around them on Vancouver Island
Cathedral Grove

Cameron Lake, Sproat Lake and Kennedy Lake are all good places for a picnic or a swimming break when it’s warm enough for that.

When you arrive in Ucluelet and Tofino, there’s plenty to do there as well. If possible spend an extra day here (see below for how to spend it) but at a minimum make sure to go to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park. If it’s clear, this is an epic place for sunsets!

A sandy beach at the ocean with big waves. It's a partly cloudy day and there are a few surfers heading into the waves
Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino

Day 5: Ucluelet to Nanaimo (or home)

Driving Distance: 182 km (113 miles). Allow at least 3 hours of driving time (and make sure to get to the ferry an hour early).

Where to sleep: Look for a hotel near the ferry, or head home this day no matter how far you’re traveling after your Vancouver Island road trip.

Highlights

A marina and a historic red and white lighthouse surrounded by forested mountains in Port Alberni on a Vancouver Island road trip
Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay

You’ll be retracing your steps from yesterday so if there are any stops you didn’t have time for you can do that today!

This is a good day to have lunch or dinner and spend a bit of time exploring the town of Port Alberni. There’s a walkway near the river that empties into Alberni Inlet, as well as a waterfront park along the inlet. Those interested in history and economy will enjoy checking out the Port Alberni Maritime Discovery Center (housed in a historic lighthouse) or visiting the McLean Mill Historic Site.

If you have extra time you can also explore the town of Nanaimo before heading to your ferry.

7 day Vancouver Island road trip itinerary

If you have 7 days or more for your Vancouver Island road trip, then you can get up into the most remote and less visited areas of the North Island around Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove. These destinations are an absolute delight and for those who love road trips, this longer drive is a must-do!

DayRouteHighlights
1Exploring VictoriaCity of Victoria
2Victoria to Port RenfrewGoldstream Provincial Park, Sooke, beaches
3Port Renfrew to UclueletCowichan Valley, beaches, waterfalls, Cathedral Grove, Port Alberni
4Exploring Ucluelet and TofinoPacific Rim National Park beaches and forests
5Ucluelet to Port HardyStrathcona Provincial Park
6Port Hardy to Telegraph CovePort Hardy, Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove
7Telegraph Cove to NanaimoCampbell River, Backroads along the coast

Day 1: Exploring Victoria

Stone buildings and an old clock on a city street on a sunny day. There are flags, hanging baskets and red umbrellas along the sidewalk.
Government Street on a summer day in downtown Victoria

Driving Distance: None, unless you’re driving in and out of the city (or arriving in Victoria this day)

Where to sleep: A hotel in downtown Victoria (walking distance to inner harbour) or camping at Goldstream Provincial Park.

Highlights

This is the same plan for today as Day 1 in the 5 day itinerary. Spending a day in Victoria is a perfect way to get your Vancouver Island road trip off to a wonderful start.

Make sure you get a chance to walk around the Inner Harbour and take in the shops on Government Street. Afternoon tea is a great way to start off your trip as well as Butchart Gardens (which is a good stop between the ferry and downtown Victoria). Pro tip – have your tea at Butchart Gardens!

If you want to stretch your legs, go for a walk around Beacon Hill Park and see the world’s largest free standing totem pole, or head out along Dallas Road for a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca or along the breakwater.

Starting a Vancouver Island road trip on Dallas Road in Victoria. There are green bushes in the foreground and the blue water of the Strait of Juan De Fuca in the background. There are distant mountains on the Olympic Peninsula across the water
Along Dallas Road in Victoria

Since you’re prepping for a road trip, Victoria is a good place to stock up on supplies for your trip.

Day 2: Victoria to Port Renfrew

A black bear eating leaves on a pile of gravel with shrubs
A black bear along the road between Sooke and Port Renfrew

Driving Distance: 111 km (69 miles). Allow at least 2 hours of driving time.

Where to sleep: Cottage or Lodge in Port Renfrew or camping at China Beach Campground.

Highlights

The same as Day 2 in the 5 day itinerary, this is where you start getting out into the remoter parts of Vancouver Island.

The drive along the coast of Vancouver Island opposite Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is absolutely stunning. Make sure to stop in the small community of Sooke, with wonderful farm (or sea) to table food in a beautiful setting. You can rent kayaks here for even more exploring.

As you continue, you’ll have the opportunity to visit numerous beaches along the Juan de Fuca trail. Mystic Beach and Botanical Beach are a couple of favorites but you can’t go wrong on the beaches here! Botanical Beach is particularly known for it’s stunning tidepools nestled into the black rocks.

Port Renfrew is particularly well known for its enormous old growth trees, so make some time to explore the famous forests.

Day 3: Port Renfrew to Ucluelet

Driving Distance: 317 km (197 miles). Allow at least 5 hours of driving time.

Where to sleep: I like Ucluelet instead of Tofino because it’s a bit more low key and quieter. There are a number of hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds in both towns and in between them. If you’re looking to save money, try camping along the way before you get to Ucluelet or finding a hotel in Port Alberni instead.

Highlights

Today is when you diverge from the 5 day intinerary and get deeper into the heart of Vancouver Island. Today you’ll go from the west coast of the island, to the east coast of the island and over two fairly low mountain passes to meet the west coast again in Ucluelet and Tofino.

Cowichan River Provincial Park is a wonderful picnic stop or place to stretch your legs on a hike. Swimming is also an option here at the day use area. Pay attention to signs and current conditions as the river conditions can change rapidly.

Ladysmith makes for a fun stop in this seaside town with plenty of historic buildings and charming shops and Parksville has gorgeous beaches perfect for a picnic or just hanging out for a few hours.

There are a couple of amazing waterfalls along the way, Englishman River Falls and Little Qualicum Falls, each with a loop for hiking through the forest to the falls.

A waterfall plunging over a rock face
Englishman River Falls. Photo credit: Photo Credit: Tourism Vancouver Island

Cathedral Grove is a mandatory stop for the stunning old growth trees. A wheelchair accessible boardwalk goes through the forest on the right side of the highway as you head towards Ucluelet and Tofinfo.

There are several lakes along the way with beautiful picnic areas and and opportunities for swimming on hot days.

Day 4: Exploring Ucluelet and Tofino

A white and red lighthouse on black rocks at the edge of the ocean on a cloudy day near Ucluelet on a Vancouver island road trip
The Ucluelet Lighthouse on the Wild Pacific Trail

Driving Distance: 80 km (50 miles) round trip between Ucluelet and Tofino.

Where to sleep: The same place you stayed last night.

Highlights

If you have time in your itinerary, I highly recommend spending a full day in the Ucluelet and Tofino area (or more if you can spare it). There are so many incredible things to do here!

At a minimum, make sure to explore the Long Beach area of Pacific Rim National Park as well as the many other beaches in the area.

The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is another must do, especially doing the short lighthouse loop.

Beyond that, there are plenty of forest trails as well as surfing lessons, kayak tours, whale and bear watching tours and fishing charters.

A wooden totem pole without paint in a city park at the waterfront. In the distance are forested islands and mountains on a mostly sunny day
The stunning Totem Pole in Tofino’s downtown area

Day 5: Ucluelet to Port Hardy

Driving Distance: 574 km (357 miles) including a 100 km (60 miles) detour to stunning Strathcona Provinical Park.

Where to sleep: I love the Port Hardy RV Resort cabins. They are super cute and comfortable. This is also a great place for camping. The sites have a few of the estuary and plenty of space. They have showers and washrooms for campers.

Highlights

This is the longest driving day of your trip, but if you can manage it I would still do the trip up to Strathcona Provincial Park. Snow lingers late into summer in the high country here, but even if you’re visiting earlier or you just don’t want to take that much time, I still recommend checking out Buttle Lake. You can swim here in summer and there are trails and picnic areas.

A lake surrounded by forest on a cloudy day
Buttle lake in Strathcona Provincial Park. Photo Credit: Destination Campbell River/Bluetree Photography

If you’re a hiker, you might want to add an extra day to your itinerary to experience some of the stunning hikes in the mountains here. There is also camping for those wanting to stay longer.

Make sure to stop at Elk Falls Provincial Park on your way to Strathcona (or as an alternative to make the driving day shorter). There’s an awesome suspension bridge with a great view of the falls, however there are 120 steps to get down to the bridge! The rest of the trail is well graded and wide, but watch out for the many many stairs!

A waterfall coming over a rock face surrounded by plants and forest on a Vancouver Island road trip
Elk Falls from the suspension bridge

Campbell River is a good spot to stop for a bite to eat (Seabreeze Takeout is my absolute favorite – amazing fish and chips as well as PIE). There aren’t too many food options past here along the highway until you get to Port Hardy so it’s a good place to stop.

A basket of fish and chips on a wooden picnic table
Fish and Chips are amazing at Seabreeze Takeout in Campbell River

From here, you’ll be driving mostly inland with occasional views of the mountains in the center of the island.

A high snow capped mountain with evergreen trees in the foreground on a vancouver island road trip
Mountain views come out on sunny days on North Vancouver Island

Day 6: Port Hardy to Telegraph Cove

Driving Distance: 64 km (40 miles)

Where to sleep: I love the Telegraph Cove Resort. The unique historic buildings are all a little different and the restaurant is really good. If you’re camping, there’s a campground close by.

Highlights

It’s a short drive from Port Hardy to Telegraph Cove, which is a delightful change from yesterday! This gives you plenty of time for exploring the waterfront park of Port Hardy and still get to Telegraph Cove plenty early to enjoy some tours or just relaxing and taking in the vibe when you arrive.

If you’re up for more driving and exploring, Port McNeill, Port Alice and Coal Harbour are all interesting and relatively short detours. Port Alice has an amazing coffee spot (Foggy Mountain Coffee Company) and Port McNeill also has good coffee, a pub and a waterfront walking trail.

A foggy shoreline surrounded by trees.
Foggy Port Alice

All of these communities along with Port Hardy and Telegraph Cove are mostly logging communities and clear cuts and active logging are common. Many people make their living in the timber industry. I’ve found the people in Port Hardy and nearby Port McNeill to be extremely friendly and welcoming and enthusiastic about sharing their beautiful home with visitors.

A wooden log sign in a grassy city park that says Welcome to Port Hardy. Logging, Fishing, Mining

Telegraph Cove is near one of the best places anywhere to see Orcas, so this is an excellent place to do a whale watching trip. They also offer bear watching and kayak tours. Kayak tours can be a mellow evening paddle during the summer or an all day or even multi day adventure.

historic buildings on pilings over a small cove surrounded by evergreen trees. There is a marina in front of the buildings.
Telegraph Cove at dusk

Day 7: Telegraph Cove to Nanaimo (or home)

Driving Distance: 356 km (221 miles). Allow at least 4 hours of driving time. Make sure to get to the ferry at least an hour ahead of time.

Where to sleep: Look for a hotel near the ferry, or head home this day no matter how far you’re traveling after your Vancouver Island road trip.

Highlights

Today you’ll be retracing your journey on roads you drove so this is a great opportunity to explore any stops you missed on previous days of your Vancouver Island road trip.

A purple flower with green leaves
Wildflowers along the Vancouver Island roads in early summer

Take the time to get some amazing Fish and Chips at Seabreeze Takeout if you didn’t stop on the way north (and maybe even if you did!)and then explore the nearby park at the mouth of the river. This park is part of an extensive trail system that goes all around the town of Campbell River, so plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs as long as you like.

A grassy park with a large evergreen tree next to the water with forested hillsides across the water
The park in Campbell River

If you have time, I recommend the slower highway that goes along the coast between Campbell River and Nanaimo (north of Campbell River there’s only one road). This will add at least an hour to your trip, but gives you the chance for more water views and some new scenery.

A float plane on grass with mountains in the distance
Floatplanes and other interesting local things are fun to see if you take the slow road along the coast

What to add if you have more time for your Vancouver Island road trip

If you’re lucky enough to have more time to spend on Vancouver Island, there are plenty of ways to add to your Vancouver Island road trip adventure. A few suggestions:

  • Strathcona Provincial Park – this itinerary just has a quick visit to Buttle Lake, but you could easily spend a week just in this park alone. Summer has amazing hiking and there are plenty of snow activities to enjoy in winter. Camp in the park or stay in nearby Campbell River.
  • Telegraph Cove – with the opportunity to do whale watching, bear watching or kayaking you can easily spend a few days here taking in all the activities
  • Tofino – another hotspot of excellent tours for whale watching, bear watching, kayaking, fishing and more, it’s easy to spend more time here.
  • Victoria – a gorgeous city with so much to see and do, you could spend plenty more days here.

What to pack for a Vancouver Island road trip

My road trip packing list and how to plan a road trip article are good resources for you as you get ready for your epic Vancouver Island road trip adventure!

A couple of highlights to make sure you don’t forget for Vancouver Island in particular are:

  • Download all maps and entertainment for locations with no cell service or limited cell service and/or no wifi.
  • Rain jacket – you need a good rain jacket for Vancouver Island any time of year! If you already have one that works great. If you’re looking to buy one for this trip, I recommend the Marmot Minimalist or the REI XeroDry for a combination of quality and price. The REI jacket is available in plus sizes.
  • Waterproof footwear – I love these rubber boots that you’ll see all across the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and are amazing for mud, beach walks and have good traction on wet surfaces. Waterproof hiking shoes (from Amazon or REI) or waterproof hiking boots (from Amazon or REI) are a popular and practical option. If it’s summer, also bring sandals.
  • Snacks and water – especially the further north you go on the island, the fewer options there are for food, so I highly recommend bringing some of your own food and snacks along to take advantage of all the amazing picnic areas across Vancouver Island.
  • Sunglasses and sun protection – when the sun comes out, the days are long and the sun is intense, especially at the beach! Make sure you have sunglasses and sunscreen even if the forecast isn’t for sun.
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!