While the rest of Canada is still blanketed under March snow, spring has sprung on Vancouver Island. With its thick rainforest, beautiful beaches and mild temperatures, Vancouver Island is inviting all year-round. Yet by springtime, warmer temperatures have arrived, the fishing, golfing and hiking seasons have already begun, and the streets are lined with leafy trees and cherry blossoms.
With WestJet offering direct flights to Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox including from Calgary and Edmonton, Vancouver Island is an easy-to-get-to getaway and an ideal spot to kick-start spring and summer adventures.
Unforgettable Fishing and Wildlife Sightings
Up in Port Hardy, the largest community in the Vancouver Island North region, plan to spend the mild spring days hiking lush forest trails, kayaking through kelp forests and soaking in the natural beauty — and fishing is a must. Port Hardy is widely recognized as one of the best places in Canada to fish, and by early spring expect to reel in herring and blueback salmon. Come May and June, the larger salmon are biting. Connect with the experts and book a three-or four-night guided fishing package at the Coastal Springs Lodge.
A trip up north is also an opportunity to unplug and appreciate nature and a stay in the environmentally friendly Ecoscape Cabins makes this easy. These cozy cabins are perfect for your nature-based getaway: they’re situated minutes from rainforest, beaches and hiking trails, and the cabins are built with sustainability in mind.
Warmer weather means spring is an ideal time to explore by water. Venture south from Port Hardy to Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove if wildlife sightings are on your bucket list. Book a sea kayak tour with Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures and the guides will ensure your experience is an impressive combination of wildlife sightings, such as whales, otters and grizzly bears, and stunning natural views of the Johnstone Strait. In Telegraph Cove, seek out trusted guiding companies like North Island Kayak and Tide Rip Grizzly Tours. Plan to stay at Telegraph Cove Resort, an ocean-side lodging where you can unwind in one of the historic cabins or suites located on the 800-foot-long boardwalk that surrounds the village.
For outdoor adventure and natural beauty of a different sort, check out Strathcona Provincial Park, the oldest provincial park in British Columbia and a destination for hikers and mountaineers. Many of its low-level hiking trails are accessible starting in April — and at the nearby Mount Washington Alpine Resort, you can ski until early April. Plus, it’s less than an hour drive from the cute town of Campbell River.
While in Campbell River, be sure to make time to golf. The Vancouver Island Golf Trail is a 250-kilometre stretch of world-class links that includes four breathtaking courses in the North Island. Don’t miss the redesigned Campbell River Golf and Country Club, a new addition to the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, which reopened late last year.
B.C.’s Best Trails and Spas
Nanaimo is the second largest city on Vancouver Island and a gateway to all Vancouver Island has to offer. Its central location makes it an ideal landing spot for your springtime getaway, so plan to arrive at the Nanaimo Airport. With direct flights from Vancouver and Calgary, it’s an easy and hassle-free way to connect to numerous mid-island gems.
Enjoy the scenic three-hour drive through the Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park to Tofino and Ucluelet, an under-the-radar gem. You’ll find it easy to fill your itinerary here. Ucluelet is home to the Wild Pacific Trail, the top-rated trail in all of British Columbia. This all-levels walking path offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, the rocky coast and ancient cedar trees. You might even see marine life — whale-watching season begins in early March.
Springtime is also when activities like fishing, kayaking, paddling and biking pick up again in Ucluelet. Rent gear from the local shops for a solo adventure or learn about the area from an expert guide when you book a tour. For something a little different, try a 2.5-hour guided e-bike tour along the peninsula with Pacific Rim Eco
Adventures. After a day of exploring, stop by the cozy Foggy Bean Coffee Company for a caffeine hit or visit Pacific Rim Distilling to sample made-in-Ucluelet gins and vodkas.
Another gem is Parksville, a family-friendly coastal town on the east side of Vancouver Island known for its huge sandy beaches and calm waters. This is also a must-stop destination if you’re looking for a relaxing spa experience, as Parksville is home to the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort. In 2018, Spas of America released its Top Spas in Canada list and the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort was voted the best in Canada. With a warm mineral pool, multiple spa treatments and tasty food and drink at the on-site Treetop Tapas and Grill restaurant, a trip here will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Charming Cities and Blossoming Gardens
Your trip to Vancouver Island is only complete if you also visit the South Island, home to The Butchart Gardens, one of Vancouver Island’s top tourist attractions and a National Historic Site of Canada. While beautiful all year, spring and early summer are when the gardens come to life. By early March, the gardens are brimming with cherry blossoms, tulips, daffodils and rhododendrons.
When you reach downtown Victoria, be sure to tour the picturesque Inner Harbour, and stop for a drink at the Fairmont Empress Hotel’s newly renovated restaurant Q at The Empress. Just across the street is the Royal BC Museum, a city treasure packed with inspiring exhibits. Try to catch the visually stunning Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, which runs until March 24, and don’t miss this year’s biggest exhibit, Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises. This thought-provoking exhibit celebrates the Maya culture and opens May 17.
Make sure to explore beyond the Inner Harbour, too. Sip your way along the Victoria Ale Trail to sample the city’s craft beers, tour the many independent bookstores and art galleries in the downtown core, and venture away from the city centre to experience the regional parks and golf courses — Victoria is a top golf destination in Canada, and there are five courses all within a 30-minute radius.
For a small-town feel, visit Oak Bay. Stroll down the municipality’s quaint main street, Oak Bay Avenue, stopping in trendy local cafés like Hide + Seek. Close by is the luxurious Oak Bay Beach Hotel. The resort’s location is prime: it overlooks the Juan de Fuca Strait, and on a clear day, you’ll see Washington’s snowy Mount Baker. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the hotel’s large welcoming guest rooms and enjoy a dip in its heated seaside mineral baths, a spa treatment at the Boathouse Spa, a drink at The Snug Pub, as well as on-site dinner theatre and more.
After experiencing the diversity and beauty of the region, chances are, you won’t want to leave. Vancouver Island is a dream destination for property owners, and considering the shift in Victoria’s real estate market, now is a prime time for both buyers and sellers. From a downtown Victoria condo to a private island retreat, Macdonald Realty has been helping clients find their dream homes since 1944.
When springtime feels far from reach elsewhere in Canada, you can get an early start to the warmer weather, lush green views and outdoor adventures by planning a close-to-home escape to Vancouver Island. And whether it’s golfing, spa visits, adventurous activities or wildlife sightings you’re after, you’ll find it all on Vancouver Island.