Tourism Victoria says Victoria Harbour “is one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.” Historically, the First Nations used it, but now it’s the base for ferries, seaplanes, and water taxis. In summer, Victoria Harbour is home to festivals, markets, and concerts, but its most beautiful feature may be the historic architecture in the background, including the Fairmont Empress and BC Legislature Building. A visit there isn’t complete without seeing the Inner Harbour either.
Victoria Harbour, Wharf Street, Victoria, BC, Canada, +1 250 383 8300
Cathedral Grove is a “rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem” in MacMillan Provincial Park on central Vancouver Island. The grove’s biggest trees are 800 years old, 75 meters (250 feet) in height, and nine meters (29 feet) in circumference. People from around the world visit Cathedral Grove every year, which was shortlisted for CBC’s Seven Wonders of Canada contest in 2007.
Vancouver Island’s location means it’s a prime spot for whale watching. People can usually spot orcas (killer whales) in both the island’s north and south seas between May and October. Pacific gray whales are visible along the west coast during March and April, when they migrate north.
Humpback whales usually swim in the open waters on the island’s north side in summer, after spending their winters in Hawaii and Mexico. Other marine animals seen include minke whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals. There are many whale-watching adventures to experience all around Vancouver Island.
For food and wine enthusiasts, Cowichan Valley is known for its “Gourmet Trail.” It sits between Victoria and Nanaimo and has three main towns: Chemainus, Duncan, and Ladysmith. The valley’s warm climate means it’s an ideal place to grow produce, which is why it’s home to many award-winning wineries, British Columbia’s first cidery, and the impressive Duncan Farmers Market. Other activities in the valley include hiking, paddling, and tubing along the Cowichan River.
Craigdarroch Castle is a beautifully restored Victorian mansion built between 1887 and 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, who was a Scottish immigrant that made a lot of money from coal on Vancouver Island. Now a National Historic Site, it’s said to be a prime example of a bonanza castle: “Massive houses built for entrepreneurs who became wealthy during the industrial age.” On a hill overlooking Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle has 39 rooms over four floors, which feature stained-glass windows, intricate woodwork, and “fabulous Victorian-era furnishings.”
Craigdarroch Castle, 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC, Canada, +1 250 592 5323