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Feb 19, 2022

8 min. read

With spectacular natural views, outdoor activities and cultural exploration all close by on Vancouver Island, here are five of our top picks for your next trip.

The Spirit Trail

The view from the top of a wooden structure.

This unique looped waterfront path winds its way through some of the island’s most breathtaking scenery along the coast, connecting many growing communities and new landmarks.

One of the key stops along the way is the towering Malahat SkyWalk, the newest year-round outdoor attraction, which is built upon land of the Malahat First Nations. You’ll learn their Indigenous stories throughout the visitor experience.

Stroll the 600-metre TreeWalk through beautiful evergreens to a gently sloped ramp that leads you to the viewing platform. There, you’ll see sweeping views of Mount Baker, Finlayson Arm, the Saanich Peninsula and islands in two countries from a height of 250-metres above sea level.

Enjoy the sights, sounds and rich depth of the coastal forest before descending on foot or going down the spiral slide.

“Visitors are looking for immersive, local experiences that showcase the real Vancouver Island and the people who live here. The Spirit Loop offers that,” says Ken Bailey, general manager of the Skywalk.

The Skywalk is a highlight on the loop, but visitors can also find plenty of other great spots nearby, too, like the Harbourside West Overpass, a 280-metre pedestrian bridge or Moodyville Park, which displays several pieces of public art.

Explore Sooke

A bedroom in a tepee with a bed and a fireplace.

Situated on the lands of the T’Sou-ke First Nations, the city is home to many lush parks, award-winning restaurants and talented local artisans.

Stop at Mom’s Café for a homemade apple pie or indulge in a brick-oven pizza topped with locally harvested ingredients at Wild Mountain.

Nature enthusiasts can rent a kayak to explore the nearby lakes or hike through Sooke Potholes Regional Park.

Look for the deep, polished rock pools and carved canyons popular for swimming along the Sooke River. Dip into the ponds of clear green water linked by waterfalls and gorges.

Stay the night at the Spring Salmon Place Campground, which has 67 RV sites and tent facilities run by the T’Souke First Nations.

Stop by Shirley

A lighthouse on a rocky cliff.

Just west of Sooke is the quaint hamlet of Shirley, B.C., where you can browse eclectic shops, dine at charming restaurants and wander nearby paths.

Sit down at Shirley Delicious for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, then take a walk along the Juan de Fuca Trail, which leads to Mystic Beach, where you’ll find a small waterfall.

Don’t miss the 100-year-old Sheringham Point Lighthouse that stands above the rocky coastline on the southwest tip of the island.

See the grove

A person is standing in the middle of a redwood forest.

Near Port Renfrew is the old growth rainforest Avatar Grove, with its massive cedar and fir trees that date back hundreds of years. Some of the trees have trunks that are nearly 4.5-metres around. It’s also home to Canada’s Gnarliest Tree, a mammoth cedar that’s sure to impress.

Hike to new heights

A woman in a yellow raincoat looking at a map.

Enjoy scenic glimpses of southern Vancouver Island from Mount Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park.

The six-kilometre loop trail is a popular route with challenging, steep terrain, but the bird’s-eye perspective from the top is well worth the effort to get there.

After your hike, cool off with a swim in Langford Lake, a hidden gem for locals.

Be prepared

Before you head out for your next adventure, speak to a CAA Travel Consultant to help plan your trip and to discuss your travel insurance options for complete coverage. Or if you need to book a hotel or car rental, enjoy Member-exclusive discounts from CAA Rewards® partners. Don't forget to show your CAA card at popular attractions as you may get discounts courtesy of BCAA.

Image credit: Jordan Dyck/Tourism Vancouver Island, Milen Kootnikoff/Malahat SkyWalk, Indigenous Tourism BC/Alicia Haque/Fraser Canyon Teepee Escape, Tom Ryan/Destination BC, Ben Giesbrecht/Tourism Vancouver Island, Jordan Dyck/Destination BC

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