This week I’m joining the Canadian Homeschooling Bloggers in our monthly blog hop for a virtual field trip through our provinces. Come explore Vancouver Island with me!
Let’s start our virtual field trip near Beacon Hill Park, at Mile 0 of the TransCanada Highway. Every time I see this sign, I want to go on a road trip. Before we take off, however, take a few hours to admire the view of the ocean (and watch a cruise ship or container ship go by), play in the park, and watch the goats run at the petting farm. Now let’s hit the road.
We’re going to follow Highway 1 out of Victoria and through Langford, then take a left onto Sooke Road. This windy, scenic highway is one of my favourite drives, but if you’ve got kids subject to car sickness, pack the Gravol. (Sunshine got sick on three subsequent trips down this road before I figured out what was bothering her.) Follow the signs to East Sooke Park.
On a sunny day, the beach at East Sooke Park is packed with sunbathers and swimmers. It is one of the loveliest beaches around Victoria, with miles of sand to explore and rocks to climb on. Surrounding the beach is miles of hiking trails, including a short hike up to a view at Creyton Point or a longer hike around the Coast Trail (pack snacks and water!), where you can climb the Head and view a historical geographical marker for the US / Canada border.
From there, continue down Sooke Road or Highway 14 to Port Renfrew. There are many more beaches and campgrounds we could stop at along the way, including French Beach, China Beach, and Sombrio Beach. Port Renfrew is the jumping off point for the famous and historical West Coast Trail, which was originally created to give shipwreck victims a way back to civilization.
In Port Renfrew, hang a left out to Botanical Bay. You’ll want to check tide tables before arriving, because Botanical Bay is best at low tide when you can explore all the tide pools for fascinating sea creatures like chitons, urchins, crabs, and more. The rock formations themselves are fascinating, as well as the flora and fauna you see along the trail. The hike itself is a circle and fairly easy.
Leaving Port Renfrew, continue along the Pacific Marine Road across the Island to Lake Cowichan. There is more camping along this road, which used to be a forestry road and is now a scenic drive that connects two small towns on the island. Continue into Duncan and view the totem poles downtown, then go on up to Chemainus to see the murals.
Keep heading north up the Island to Nanaimo. See what’s left of the coal mines at the Morden Collieries Trail and visit the Nanaimo Museum. (When you get back to Victoria, visit Craigdarroch Castle, which was built by a coal baron who made his fortune in Nanaimo.)
On the highway again, take a left at Highway 4A near Parksville and head through Coombs. Take a minute to stop at Goats on the Roof Market and look for the goats on the roof or do some shopping. Then follow the highway back across the Island to Tofino, Canada’s legendary surf destination. Stop along the way to view the huge cedars in Cathedral Grove. In Tofino, explore the beaches, go on a whale watching tour, or take a surfing lesson.
From Tofino, it’s back along Highway 4A to Parksville. Here, you can either take a quick sidetrip north to see Hornby Island (two ferry trips to reach some great hiking and the hands-down best beach on the island, as well as a meadery, market and more) or continue south to Victoria.
There is, obviously, so much more to see, but I’ve tried to provide some highlights here. For more places to explore, check out my Vancouver Island Page. We spent four years on the Island and only saw a small part of it; there are still so many places I’d love to visit! Vancouver Island is a beautiful corner of Canada that offers so much for everyone, no matter what you enjoy doing. I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual field trip!
Enter to win a fantastic Canadian field trip prize pack including:
1) Family/Group Discovery Pass from Parks Canada (valid for 1 year from date of issue at over 100 parks, conservation areas and historical site across Canada, worth $136.40)
2) The Rough Guide to Canada travel guide book (paperback, worth $29.99)
Contest is open to residents of Canada excluding Quebec (sorry my Quebec friends!) who are over 18. Ends April 15th @11:59pm. The Koala Bear Writer is not responsible for prize or shipping.