There's nothing quite like Canada's southwest coast, with snow-capped mountains on the city skylines, top-notch hiking and watersports, and that fresh, crisp British Columbia air. See its best on this six-day adventure across Vancouver Island. Cruise over the Strait of Georgia and enter a world of possibilities ' stroll the harbour and old quarter of Nanaimo, bask in the seaside paradise of Tofino, delve into the up and coming food and drink scene in pristine Victoria, and explore some of the world's best waters for whale-watching.
* The beauty of this trip is that it covers the best of southern Vancouver Island in a fairly short space of time. It's also the perfect addition to the longer Canadian Rockies trip (SSOR)
* Best surf town, best beach town of 2016... the list goes on for Tofino. Spend two nights here and discover why this is one of North America's most talked about coastal destinations
* Whale-watchers find themselves in heaven. Vancouver Island is a great viewing point on whales' migration route as they head north to Alaska for the summer, and down to Mexico for the winter. Sometimes they're even seen from the ferry to and from Vancouver
* Compact Victoria is perfect for exploring on foot, and its young population is reflected in the thriving bar and dining scene. This is a great place to celebrate the end of your trip
➕ Day 1 Vancouver
Welcome to Vancouver, Canada. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the reception as soon as possible. Your leader will be collecting your insurance details, food kitty contribution and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details ready to provide. If you arrive early into Vancouver, why not take a walk around the city's historic Gastown site or wander through Stanley Park.
➕ Day 2 Nanaimo
Ferry across the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island (approximately 2 hours). Make your own discoveries this afternoon in free time. Perhaps stroll the harbourfront walkway and Old City Quarter, learn what a Nanaimo bar is (it's delicious ' and there's even a trail you can take so you can taste multiple variations), take a hike or hire a kayak in Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park or learn about the Island's culture at the Nanaimo Museum.
➕ Day 3 Tofino
Drive across the centre of Vancouver Island to Tofino (approximately 2'3 hours, not including stops). Stop at Cathedral Grove for a walk in one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas fir trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world, some of them more than 800 years old. Continue onto Tofino. Tofino was named the best surf town in North America in Outside Magazine's 2010 Editors' Choice awards. It's also a great spot for storm watching and for outdoor adventure activities such as kayaking, whale watching and hiking.
➕ Day 4 Tofino
With a free day, there are many optional activities. Perhaps join a First Nations guide to learn about aboriginal history and way of life, take a kayak out on Clayoquot Sound, relax on the beach or take a stroll and go tide pooling. Alternatively, sign up for a whale watching tour. Tofino lies along the route of the annual grey whale migration. Each year up to 20,000 grey whales leave the waters of the Baja Peninsula and head north to the nutrient-rich feeding grounds of Alaska and the Bering Sea. This 20,000 kilometre round trip is thought to be the longest migration of any creature in the world. Whale-watching trips can often be combined with wildlife viewing and hot springs tours; bear watching trips by boat in the calm waters of Clayoquot Sound near Tofino is another popular option.
➕ Day 5 Victoria
Drive to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia (approximately 4 hours). With its landscaped gardens and preserved historical buildings, it is one of the most British-influenced cities in North America. However, with a recent injection of hip bars, shops, restaurants and young residents, the city is evolving into something more cosmopolitan. The afternoon is free for you to explore Victoria. Perhaps rent a kayak at the harbour, indulge in a spot of whale watching, take a tour out to Butchart Gardens, or check out the excellent Royal BC Museum to learn about the natural and human history of the area. In the evening, kick back with the young locals in a bar or restaurant in town.
➕ Day 6 Vancouver
In the afternoon, board the ferry and cruise back to Vancouver (approximately 1.5 hours). The trip finishes upon arrival at your hotel. There are no further activities planned for today. If you decide to fly out this day, it's best not to book a flight for before 8 pm; this will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there two hours before departure.
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