Reason 1 – Wine – If you’re anything like me, and the only thing you know about wine is how wasted you get off the stuff, fear not. Vancouver Island will not only educate, it will also open your eyes to the colourful community of Wine-growers, Wine-Enthusiasts, and Wine-Drinkers out there. The best advice I can give you is to smile, you are sure to run into the stereotypical “Wine Snob” here and there. The trick is not to laugh, nor point. Deep breathes are the only thing that can save you. Oh, that and the complimentary wine. (Pound it!) The Cowichan Valley has been called Vancouver Island’s own “Provence” – This place has the longest grape-growing season in Canada. If the taste tests aren’t enough,and total emersion is what you’re after , check out the three-day Cowichan Wine & Culinary Festival. (Runs in Late September)
Reason 2 – Surfing – Yes, you read that right! Surfing isn’t reserved for the tropics. Even the frigid waters of Canada have surf. The best place to check out Vancouver Island’s Surf is Tofino. By far one of the coolest towns on ‘The Island’. A small hippy hangout that has been evolving into a eco-destination with plenty to do. A 24 hour board rental in Tofino is going to set you back $20-25. If you’re a complete Newb to surfing, there are a variety of lessons you can take. Pacific Surf School and Surf Sister both offer lessons. Pricing varies, but expect to pay $65 for a Surfing 101 class, while a multiday course is going to cost roughly $175. A wetsuit would be one of the smarter decisions you could make for your day on the surf, water is cold year round. So unless you’re accustom to the frigid waters of the North, or maybe just drank too much of that Wine from Reason 1, don’t be foolish. Take the wetsuit.
Reason 3 – Whale Watching – One of the more touristy things you can do on the Island. But well worth it if the whales decide to make an appearance. From May to October, boat after boat filled with eager tourists leave Victoria in search of the megalithic creatures. Should Moby Dick bail on your group, try not to cry, or cuss, or pollute the sea, normally the Whale Watch Tours include a visit to the haunts of Elephant Seals and Sea Lions. Not quite megalithic, but chubby none-the-less, and well worth the day out. Expect to pay $80-90 on a Whale Watching Tour.
Reason 4 – Scuba Dive – Vancouver Island has several world renown Scuba spots. Jacques Cousteau himself said “Vancouver Island has the best temperate water diving in the world and second only to the Red Sea”. Though a little pricey for the everyday backpackers budget, if you’ve got the money, and Scuba is your vice, dive in (Oh yea, I went there) – Vancouver Island is home to several famous Artificial Reefs. Including The Saskatchewan, a 110m ex-Canadian Navy destroyer escort (75,000 + dives) & The Cape Breton. Check out Diving BC for more information on dive sites & costs.
Reason 5 – Backpacker Friendly – With shorter distances, plenty to see in between, and the ease of finding a cheap hostel or campsite makes Vancouver Island a captivating choice for backpackers alike. The sights & sounds are something not to miss. Drive the coastline between Victoria and Nanaimo. Or hike the dozens of trails. Drink some cheap drinks at backpacker bars in Victoria. Or just chill on one of the many beaches around the Island and take it all in. With friendly people and lush scenery, this Islands full of surprises. Be sure to add Vancouver Island to your itinerary.