Top 5 Places to visit on Vancouver Island? I have been photographing and exploring the wilds of nature on & off Vancouver Island for over 16 years. Throughout my adventures, I have compiled a “Top 5 Places to visit on Vancouver Island”.
- First on my list would be Mystic Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The first one is a tough choice as there are so many great locations but this one has lots of variety to offer. Tip, during the summer months, avoid weekend and holidays as the crowds of people camping can be overwhelming. During the week is much better and often in the winter and spring months you can have the beach to yourself. Oh, and the waterfall is usually still active well into spring but does slow a lot into the summer months.
- Next I would rank Botanical Beach (and Botany Bay) in Port Renfrew as the next must visit on the southern west coast of Vancouver Island. Know as the finished (or starting) point for the Juan de Fuca Trail, Botanical beach attracts thousands of visitor per year simply because it is filled with a variety of subject matter. From waves crashed on the rocky shoreline, sunset, and the amazing tide pools offer something for everyone.
- Third is the world renown Ucluelet (& Tofino) on the central west coast of Vancouver Island. Tofino is more known for its large, big wide-open beaches, but Ucluelet has it own beauty with the Wild Pacific Trail (not to be confused with the West Coast trail). The trail starts close to Amphitrite Lighthouse, weaves through Big Beach (awesome for storm shots like below), and ends at Rocky Bluffs for a total of 8km one way. The trail is well maintained and suitable for all abilities and partially wheelchair accessible. Trail is accessible all year around.
- A top 5 list would not be complete without a trip to Brady’s Beach in Bamfield. July is the best month to camp on Brady’s Beach and experience the unforgettable sunsets. Brady’s Beach is unique. After a 4-5 hour drive (half of it on logging roads) from Victoria, one has to take a short 5 minute water taxi from East Bamfield to West Bamfield and access Brady’s Beach by foot (about 15-20 minute walk with gear). With free camping on Brady’s Beach, and beautiful seas stacks, it is hard to go wrong with this beautiful location.
- The final location on Vancouver Island to visit (but might be your first) is San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Approximately a 7-8 hour drive from Victoria and the last 62km is on a gravel road (take a spare tire in good condition and fill up with gas in Port Hardy) but is worth every bump of it. One at the Cape Scott Provincial Park parking lot, the walk is an easy 2km or approx. 45 minutes on a very well maintained wide trail. The huge wide open sandy beaches with awesome sea stacks are a nature enthusiasts dream. Also, keep an eye open for the large western red cedar trees along the trail to the beach! Tip, keep an eye on the weather as this part of Vancouver Island can change in a flash. Summer is a bit more predictable.
Dave Hutchison is an award-winning landscape & wildlife photographer based near Victoria on southern Vancouver Island. Dave offers Adventure Photo Tours around Vancouver Island with info available at https://davehutchison.ca/adventure-tours/. Dave is an International Brand Ambassador for Singh-Ray Filters based in Florida (discount coupon code dhi15 for 15% off at checkout at https://singh-ray.com ). Other discounts and deals can be found at https://davehutchison.ca/affiliates/
Dave leads multi day workshops for landscapes & wildlife photography on the BC coast & The Great Bear Rainforest https://davehutchison.ca/grizzlies-great-bear-rainforest/. Dave also offers webinars & workshops around the globe on Long Exposure Photography – “The Art of Seeing What You Can’t See”.