A fly drive holiday in British Columbia and Vancouver Island is a really wonderful vacation and it’s very safe for families.
I had a few days in Vancouver then I picked up my campervan from Landcruise and drove to British Columbia Ferries for the beautiful journey over to Vancouver Island, where I saw all sorts of wildlife and whale watching (awesome).
Highway 19 is good and petrol is cheaper by half, than what it costs here in the UK, but not as cheap as it is in the southeastern part of America.
The campgrounds are all great and well maintained by the Province & National Parks www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/ - www.pc.gc.ca/eng/index.aspx
At Port Hardy we got back on the ship and went up the inside passage to Prince Rupert and then drove back to Vancouver through the interior of this gigantic province.
My tour was put together by Landcruiser Canada which was a real help.
I love Canada and will be going again.
Tofino is on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. The area is formed of temperate rainforest and white sandy beaches which stretch for miles. Beyond its unbelievable natural beauty, it offers a rare thing in North America: harmony. The indigenous First Nations people, aided by eco-warriors, made a stand against the loggers in the 1980s and since then it has been given UN status as a natural wilderness.
The high-priced resorts dotted along the beaches are best avoided, especially in summer. To see the real Tofino go there in May (shoulder season) and stay in the town. The Tofino Motel offers great views at around $85 (£40) a night per room. If you like seafood Shelter and Schooner restaurants are a must, but for something more funky try Raincoast.
There are three impressive beaches nearby. Tonquin is but a short walk from the town and is good for a post-prandial stroll. Chesterman beach is a short drive away and is full of spirits and driftwood and as the site of First Nations resistance has great historical resonance. Long Beach is, well, just long. The caveats to all this are that because this is the raincoast it rains a lot. However, much natural beauty comes from this rain.
The First Nations people run several businesses in town offering whale watching, bear watching (you park near a beach and watch the bears forage for food) as well as trips to hot springs. The botanical garden are like nothing else, blending sculpture and nature. Getting to Tofino is easy. You can fly from downtown Vancouver from around $250 (£120) return by sea-plane, but the best way to travel is to take the Harbour Lynx from downtown Vancouver and then the Tofino bus across the island. Even though this journey takes around six hours, don't fall asleep. Remember you're going to paradise.
This vacation rental perched on the edge of the wild Pacific states it is 'luxury at the edge of the earth' - and it is! We spent a week here in July 2006 and didn't want to leave. Our days were spent surfing, kayaking, and hiking and evenings spent relaxing our tired bodies in the hot tub watching the whales go by - it was truly an unbelievable once in a lifetime experience. The house is located on a private beach, so beachcombing with coffee became our morning ritual. The area is one of unspoiled rugged wilderness, and one of our best meals was the salmon we caught that morning, barbequed on the beachfront porch and served on the 12 foot handmade cedar dining table - we created some wonderful family memories here. This is the wild west coast of Canada at its very best!
If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to see grizzly bears, black bears, seals, orcas, woodpeckers and bald eagles, and maybe even cougars, on tours of the Knight Inlet wilderness organised by the lodge.
On an early morning estuary tour in a kayak, for instance, we watched a grizzly wandering along the shoreline, flipping over large rocks looking for molluscs. Then on a motor boat tour of the fjord, a pod of Pacific dolphins surfed the wake of the boat.
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