Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places in Canada, Vancouver Island was luckily for me where I’ve spent a good portion of my life. An awesome place to grow up, and a stunning place to explore. This summer my mom and I went for a 2 week camping trip, starting in Victoria and making our way up to Tofino, about 5 hours north.
We started our adventure at Thetis Lake Campground. Hidden amongst the trees, many people in the area are unaware that you can camp here! The sites are big and sunny, many on top of a big hill, with just enough trees to provide shade and clotheslines, and a quick trail walk down to the lake!
Even though the main beach area of the lake can be a bit overwhelming, there are tons of quieter and more picturesque spots to be snagged up if you seek out uninhabited territory further than the beach. The walking trail runs all the way around the lake and take about an hour to fully circle. We only stayed one night this time around, which we later saw is pretty common in the campground. One of my favorite parts of this hidden gem is it’s well, hidden-ness. Even though you are super close to downtown Victoria, the beach and the rest of civilization, once you head up that secret trail to your site you almost forget it’s all there. Safely and serenely at ease amongst the trees.
Eager to get up island, we left the next day for Sproat Lake. Of course on any trip North on the Island, certain stops have to be made, which include Coombs and Goats on Roof, Cameron Lake and The Big Rocks(which I don’t know the name of). Definitely a part of my childhood, Coombs is awesome every time you go. Who doesn’t like browsing shops full of colorful curios from A-Z, choosing a winner from numerous amazing ice cream flavours, lounging in the sun amongst cool stone sculptures and last but not least, watching goats eat grass on a rooftop? It also helps that under that rooftop they bake some of the most amazing olive stuff focaccia loaves laced with garlic cloves for daays. Mmm.
After perusing and indulging in an ice cream the size of my head we headed for Sproat Lake, first stopping at Cameron Lake for a dip. This is one of my favorite lakes with it’s cool water, rooty bottom and the raw nature surroundings giving it a timeless, ancient wilderness feel.
We arrived at Sproat Lake and proceeded to set up camp.
More like village.
Between the two of us we had a 5 person mansion tent, a 3 person tent/closet, 2 tables, a gathering tent, a yoga/hoop area and hammock for lounging. Talk about luxury! Through yet another trail we could bike underneath the highway to the lake on the other side, as we were in the upper campground. Refreshing waters and hot days make this spot an additive place to spend some time.
Our days were spent almost routinely making use of our natural ‘hot yoga’ area, swimming and sun soaking blissfully on the beach, having classy dinners of curry and wine and relaxing by the fire under the bright moon. It should be called Sproat Lake Retreat. Hot days, warm nights, beautiful surroundings, good tunes and good company made for an amazing 6? days in our village. First rule of the village? Don’t talk about the village.
Further afield we stopped at ‘The Big Rocks’. A big tourist attraction where icy glacier water charges down river, plummeting over the edges of smoothly eroded dinosaur rocks. The blues are so inviting that you have to go in despite the impending hypothermia. Hey it’s good for your heart. Swedes do it. Beautiful.
If you’ve been to Tofino or the North Island you’ll know that once you go through the pass and start seeing the stubby trees it is no longer summer. Not as far as I’m concerned. It’s still nice many days but make sure you’re dressed for the west. Especially camping. We actually camped right at the junction where the road splits and you can rip over to Tofino or Ucluelet.
Wya Point was our home for the next six days (and cold starry nights). Placed right on the beach, the enchanting sites were car free, amidst dense forest and lush green moss. Ours was a fairy paradise. Add about 15 degrees and I would live there in that site. Because the sites were car-free and very bear aware (all of our food had to be locked up in a shed), we kept our area pretty minimalist this time.
We lucked out with the weather (no rain!) and explored Ucluelet ad Tofino at our leisure. Taking the paved but hilly biking trail into town we rode to the little fishing town of Ukee where we ate fish and chips, browsed, and ran around a cool military ship-turned fishing resort.
Going up to Tofino is always special and it’s still one of my favorite places. The ocean, the forest, the beaches and the town itself just come with such an ethereal vibe that every visit fills me with joy and nostalgic content-ness.
To make our wild west adventure complete, we boarded Jamie’s Whaling Zodiac dressed for the elements in our thick red snowsuit/lifejackets and set out to see some whales! During our 3 hours in the boat we spotted a bunch of grey whales, sea lions, eagles and a baby humpback! Seeing first the spray from the blowhole and then the gentle giants breaching so close to the boat is truly humbling and magical. Although seeing the whales is the goal, just being out on the water zooming over choppy waves and gliding through spectacular inlets while learning a ton from our guide is definitely worth the money.
If you get the chance to visit Ucluelet, try to make it out to the Lighthouse Loop of the Wild Pacific Trail, where a hike on the seaside offers amazing views around every corner.
Yet another beautiful island adventure for the books!
Have you had the chance to explore Vancouver Island? What are your favorite places?