Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the largest North American island in the Pacific. 280 miles (450 km) in length, Vancouver Island is the centre for “island hopping” to the many smaller islands scattered along her coast. The Vancouver Island region is a large, sparsely populated area, encompassing Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, as well as a portion of the mainland. The exposed top of a submerged mountain range, the Island stretches for 460km/285mi from charmingly sophisticated Victoria in the southwest to Cape Scott’s windswept beaches and rugged headlands at its northern tip.
It has one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: Rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes create habitats for multitudes of wildlife species. In fact, the region is one of the world’s premier locations for whale watching, birding, as well as salmon and trout fishing.
Much of the island is protected parkland. It contains many pockets of old-growth fir and cedar forests, as well as rare, naturally occurring groves of Garry oak. Vancouver Island is bisected, north to south, by the Beaufort Mountain Range, which is home to one of Canada’s biggest all-natural ski bases. Warm Pacific Ocean currents give Vancouver Island one of the mildest climates in Canada. Spring, summer and fall deliver shirt-sleeve days and cool evenings. Conditions turn dry and pleasantly toasty in July and August, perfect for trips to the beach, camping excursions, open-air markets and numerous community and music festivals.