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  Whale Figure   Vancouver Island is one of the world's premier island destinations. Conde Nast's polls have the island ranked in the top five in the world, and for very good reason. Victoria is studied refinement in a quiet natural setting, while the Pacific Rim, its rugged cousin, brings a refreshing new spirit to the island scene. The area is a unique blend of British heritage, fishing villages, Victorian splendor and elaborate modern resorts.  
 

And of course, all of it is surrounded by the stark natural beauty of the areas coastlines, rain forests and snow capped peaks.

Most visitors make their way to the island on one of the regions ferries (flights from the lower mainland and Washington State and further afield are also available), which is an adventure unto itself, particularly for the kids. If you're bound for Victoria from the mainland catch the ferry to Schwarz Bay from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) or if you're heading to the Pacific Rim, the Nanaimo ferries from Horseshoe Bay (Vancouverr) are your best bet.

British Columbia's capital, Victoria lies at the southern tip of the island. A small city with big city amenities. You'll find an active arts community, fine restaurants, exceptional accommodations and a fascinating mix of cultures. Not to be missed is high tea at the Empress Hotel. This beautiful landmark will impress even the most jaded traveler with it's imposing structure and fascinating decor. The hotel stands facing the Harbour, while the provinces parliament buildings lie just across the street. Just next door you'll find the IMAX Theatre and the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Victoria is rapidly gaining a reputation for its gastronomy, which more and more includes local ingredients gathered from the islands shores and rain forests. On the island healthy food doesn't take a back seat to delicious food, rather they go hand in hand. The west coast style of cooking is gaining a broad audience and the chefs of Victoria, Nanaimo and Tofino/Ucluelet are acquiring well deserved reputations.

The Pacific Rim is quietly emerging as another prime destination for island visitors to explore. The area is located on a narrow peninsula on the largely untamed outer coast of the islands western shoreline. At either end of the peninsula you'll find two unique fishing villages, Ucluelet and Tofino. Don't let the rugged setting fool you, fine restaurants and exceptional resorts are springing up everywhere along the coast. In addition the area is home to one of Canada's spectacular National Parks, Pacific Rim, which includes within its boundaries, the legendary West Coast Trail.

Vancouver Island is a world of adventure. The coastal areas surrounding Vancouver Island arguably afford the finest sea kayaking in North America. Popular paddling destinations include Barkley Sound, Clayoquot Sound and the Gulf Islands. Hikers and backpackers have a wealth of world class areas to choose from, including Strathcona, Cape Scott as well as the Juan De Fuca Trail, West Coast Trail and newly opened North Coast Trail. Cyclists can follow the Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails for nearly 100 km or head into the dirt in a variety of exceptional areas, of which Mount Works is a stand out. Divers have wrecks to explore off Nanaimo which, according to the late Jacques Cousteau, has some of the best diving in the world. Surfers can choose from very popular Pacific Rim or the Juan de Fuca area, west of Victoria, to catch some waves.

Heritage Canadian has recently set aside a patchwork of land with beaches, hiking trails and campsites, on a group of islands, which now make up the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in the Straight of Georgia. This newly designate park protects one of the more delicate balances between natural and human requirements in Canada. You'll also find a number of beautiful Provincial Parks with both front country and walk-in campsites, the most notable of which is Salt Spring’s seaside Ruckle Park. In addition there are regional parks on many of the islands, which rival their better know brethren when it comes to natural beauty, making them well worth a visit.

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Events, Festivals and Attractions (abridged)

 
Victoria Candy Shop
 
Visiting from outside British Columbia:
 
 
 
Visiting from outside Canada: Depending on your country of origin you may have little to understand or adapt to when you visit Canada. On the other hand many of Canada's customs, its commerce and cultural may be vary new to some visitors. We have put together a list of helpful information to assist you in your planning and when you have reached your destination.
 
 
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Ruckle Provincial Park - One of the Gulf Islands gems!
   
 
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