Vancouver Island Tourism. The very words strike fear into the hearts of commuters all over the island.
Your freaked-out publisher experiencing an episode of tourism-induced rush hour panic
Especially those attempting to get around by long board.
Which leads right into my first tourist tip: if you're planning to visit one of the major urban centres on Vancouver Island (yes, we do have a few of those!), pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top try to keep your RV off the streets during the evening commute!
It'll make for much friendlier residents, which will only benefit you in the long run.
You see - to be honest - us locals have a real love/hate relationship with tourists.
OK, maybe "hate" is a bit strong. I mean, we love it that you come and spend your disposable income in our local economy.
We really, really, really love that part.
And most of us genuinely enjoy showing off our island paradise, helping visitors find the nearest bathroom, that kind of thing. I mean, it's just the friendly thing to do, right?
Yeah, really the only
problem is the darned traffic...
Three sailing waits for the ferries.
Tourists from countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road trying to figure out how to make a left hand turn without wrecking the rental car.
And worst of all, the rush hour traffic congestion.
Especially when said congestion involves RV's, trailers, boats and other large vehicular items that aren't normally part of the rush hour eco-system. Can you see why we might get just a wee bit frustrated?
OK. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
Now, let's see if we can find some truly useful Vancouver Island tourism information for you, shall we?
If this is your first Vancouver Island tourism experience, something you'll likely find useful is a general map of Vancouver Island.
Locals usually divide the island into four regions:
You can prepare for your trip by picking up a Vancouver Island map or guide book before you arrive. These are especially good to have if you enjoy specific activities, as there are books that focus on hiking, diving and kayaking on the island, for example.
This information on the local geography may be of interest as well, especially if your goal is to enjoy the great outdoors.
Our unique island weather is probably something you're curious about. Here's a general description of our weather, with links to more detailed information for the different regions of the island. Helpful for deciding WHEN to come!
There’s nothing worse than going on vacation only to find that EVERYTHING is closed! On the other hand, there may be some local holidays that you would like to celebrate while you're here.
On Vancouver Island we observe all Canadian national holidays, as well as BC provincial holidays, and on the local level, civic holidays.
Many businesses will be open on holidays, particularly those that serve visitors, however banks and government offices are generally closed on these dates. For planning purposes, here's a list of holidays we observe:
January 1st - New Year's Day
March or April - Good Friday (as the exact date of Easter changes every year, you can use this calculator to find the dates for the current year)
March or April - Easter Monday
Monday preceding May 25th - Victoria Day
July 1st (or July 2nd if the 1st is a Sunday)- Canada Day
First Monday in August - Civic Holiday
First Monday in September - Labour Day
Second Monday in October - Thanksgiving Day
November 11th - Remembrance Day
December 25th - Christmas Day
December 26th - Boxing Day
Perhaps you're curious to see what Vancouver Island looks like before you arrive. Here are some videos of different activities and locations on the island to give you a glimpse.
I'm also working on a great collection of Vancouver Island photographs with the help of other locals who love to show off all that our island has to offer.
Vancouver Island is part of Canada, so we use the Canadian dollar. However, many businesses will accept U.S. dollars as well, as we're very close to our friendly neighbour/neighbor to the south, and receive many U.S. visitors every year.
Still, it's best to change your currency to Canadian dollars in order to get the most favourable rate of exchange. Here's a handy currency converter so you can quickly see how your country's currency compares to Canada's.
Here's a photo of some of our currency: a $20 bill, $10 bill, and left to right, the $1 coin (commonly called the "loonie"), the $2 coin ("toonie") and the 25 cent coin (poor thing doesn't have a nickname).
Currency can be converted at any bank, credit union, or currency exchange house, but keep in mind that financial institutions are generally closed on Sundays and holidays.
Some stores may exchange small amounts of US currency, particularly if you're making a purchase, but it's best not to count on this.
Vancouver Island's cities and towns offer a wide variety of accommodations, from rustic cabins and remote camping areas, to high end luxury resorts.
In fact, I work like a dog to get and keep the accommodation sections up to date. Hey, wanna help? I mean, since you've got nothing better to do than read this page?
It's easy to send me a quick email to let me know about any hovels, hotels or high-enders I might have missed.
When it comes to the many different recreational activities and attractions on the Vancouver Island, I've experienced almost all of it.
Well, except for that silly bungy jumping business.
But if I haven't seen it or done it myself, I probably know someone who has.
Like my friend's daughter in the photo for example. And no, I'm not giving away her name!
In fact, my aversion to bungy jumping (and a few other select activities) is the reason I convinced a bunch of my friends to help me out.
I regularly barge into their personal Facebook space and badger them to contribute their own stories, photos, videos and experiences of what they consider to be the best Vancouver Island tourism experiences.
Naked bungy jumping on Vancouver Island. Hey, it's all for a good cause!
You'll see these on many different pages of this site as we all work together to bring you the inside scoop on our fabulous island home.
You see? We're all a very helpful and cooperative bunch here on the island...as long as you keep that RV out of our rush hour traffic.
In addition to all the information you'll find on this site, the Vancouver Island Tourism Bureau can help you plan your holiday by offering a variety of free services and tools.
Perhaps one of the most well-used services that the Tourism Bureau provides is a system of free Visitor Information Centers located throughout the island.
These exist to help lost visitors find themselves, offer suggestions on places to visit and attractions to see, and provide emergency counseling for those traumatized by crazed commuters.
OK not really on that last one. But you can pick up helpful maps, brochures
and other information to assist in your vacation planning. And most of it's free, thanks to the sponsorship of local businesses, who or course hope to recoup their investment when you visit their establishment (hint hint).
All Vancouver Island Tourism Centers are staffed during the Summer months, and some are open year round. No matter the time of year, you'll find helpful and friendly staff who are familiar with local sights and attractions ready to assist you.
fact, many Summer staff are university students with a love for our
island lifestyle, plenty of firsthand experience with the many
adventures Vancouver Island has to offer, and lots of tips for how to stretch your next mac & cheese meal if you're a budget traveler.
To locate a Visitor Information Centre in a specific region, just pop over to the official Vancouver Island Tourism website, where you'll find a listing of all Info Centers along with phone numbers, websites and email contacts.
I'll be back soon with more helpful Vancouver Island tourism tips and
info. In the meantime, if you have any questions I can help you with,
feel free to email me and I'll do my best to find the info you need.