Travel

Things To Do On Vancouver Island

BY Michelle Sutter TIMEAugust 22, 2022 PRINT

Parksville, Coombs, Tofino and Ucluelet

If you’re looking for fun things to do on Vancouver Island then you must visit Parksville and other areas such as Coombs, Tofino and Ucluelet. We’ve included some of our favourites that we’ve personally have enjoyed and/or activities and sites that we know are a must see and do while in the area.

goats on the roof at Coombs
(Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

This article is not sponsored in any way. Unless otherwise noted all photos were taken by Powered by Mom.

Originally when we started writing this article it was “Things to do on Vancouver Island” but it became so long (before we were even done) so Victoria now has its own article: Things to do in Victoria, BC, not because there’s more to do there but because it’s the one we’re most familiar with and hey, it’s the capital of our beautiful province so it deserves its own article.

View of the beach and ocean from the Tigh-Na-Mara resort.
View of the beach and ocean from the Tigh-Na-Mara resort. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

If you’re planning a visit to British Columbia, check out all the things to do on Vancouver Island. Just a ferry ride from Vancouver, it is a must visit!

Things To Do On Vancouver Island – Enjoy Quirky Fun In Parksville And Coombs

Parksville – On the Northeastern coastline – and Coombs – same area, slightly inland.

One of my favourite things to do in on Vancouver Island is to visit the areas of Parksville and Coombs as they are quite small and so close to each other but there’s so much to do there. Parksville boasts a population of around 12,000 and Coombs – 10 km inland from Parksville – is home to just over 1000 people. But these towns manage to pack a whole lot of fun into a small place. In fact, some of the most unique things to do on Vancouver Island are found right here. For example:

Beach at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort in Parksville
Beach at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort in Parksville. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

Goats on the Roof at the Old Country Market

Starting as a fruit stand in 1973 until it grew into the store you see today, the Old Country Market has become a pretty famous place to tourists. That’s because this homey building has a green grass roof that is tended to by goats! No need to risk life and limb trying to mow this roof – the friendly and nimble goats keep it quite tidy.

Goats on the Roof, Coombs.
Goats on the Roof, Coombs. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

And once you are finished checking out the goats, there are all kinds of other fun things to do. Wander a wide variety of shops filled with wonderful products, snack on yummy treats of all kinds, and if you really want a meal, there are three restaurants to choose from. You can spend a whole day here and not quite see everything there is to see!

Some yummy food from Cuckoo in Coombs
Some yummy food from Cuckoo in Coombs. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

Things To Do On Vancouver Island – Explore The Horne Lake Caves

There are over 1000 caves all over Vancouver Island, but the Horne Lake Caves are the only ones that are safely accessible to the public, making them a great choice for families. Stunningly beautiful, there is much to see in this underground wonderland. It’s also the winner of the “Remarkable Experience Award” from Destination BC! So it’s definitely on of those things to do on Vancouver Island that you need to put on your list if you can!

Lower Cave walkway.
Lower Cave walkway. (Courtesy of Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park)

There are several different tours available, depending on your budget, the type of experience you want to have, and the ages of people in your family. The simplest tour is for ages 5 and up – the most challenging for ages 13 and up. You don’t want to miss this one!

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park
(Courtesy of Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park)

Visit Morningstar Farms in Parksville

Qualicum Cheeseworks
(Courtesy of Katie Friess/Qualicum Cheeseworks)

Morningstar Farms is home to the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, a place where you’ll enjoy all kinds of incredible cheese, fresh milk, and the friendly cows that make them. In my opinion when you visit Vancouver Island (or anywhere really) you should always try the locally made and produced food and restaurants. I always enjoy getting some Qualicum Cheeseworks goodies while in the area. You can have some amazing food and still eat very healthy like the goodies I got on my last trip to this part of the island (pictured below).

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

We like to stay in places where we have a kitchen so we can enjoy local goodies like these and eat out for meals of our choice, the best of both worlds.

Kids will love hanging out with the cows and learning all about the process of making cheese. And everyone will love the delicious free samples. Be sure to check out their website for tours and special events.

Epoch Times Photo
(Katie Friess/Qualicum Cheeseworks)

Bask in the Beauty of Butterfly World in Coombs

a butterfly on a flower
(Butterfly World)

The climate-controlled greenhouses are home to butterflies from all around the world and allow you to bask in their natural beauty. You’ll learn all about the life cycle of butterflies and see them in their various stages of life, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and beyond. And in addition to butterflies, you’ll see amphibians, reptiles, birds, and beautiful koi ponds. Butterfly World is pure enchantment.

butterflies with oranges
(Butterfly World)

This is only an idea of the many experiences you can enjoy on Vancouver Island. The longer your vacation time, the better. But even a short visit to this beautiful place is well worth your time.

a butterfly on a flower
(Butterfly World)

Things To Do On Vancouver Island – Enjoy The Surf And Sea In Tofino And Ucluelet

Tofino and Ucluelet – Pacific Rim Highway – Southwestern side of Vancouver Island

This area of the island is one of my absolute favourites. There is just no beating the stunning landscapes. I could take photos all day of the oceanside, the majestic sunsets and well pretty much all of the scenery in this area. We have gone several times of the years as a couple and as a family with our dogs too of course which is when the photo below was taken.

Tofino, the beach at sunset with a silhouette of our daughter.
Tofino, the beach at sunset with a silhouette of our daughter. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

On the southern side of Vancouver Island, far out at the end of one peninsula, is the small city of Tofino. Forty km further down the coast to the south, at the end of another peninsula, is Ucluelet. This area of Vancouver Island is best known for its ocean views and surfers swear by the surfing here.

Tofino
Tofino. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

If you love nature, there is much to enjoy here, from hiking trails to whale watching and more! There are so many things to do and see in this area as well as a ton of small restaurants, there’s a lot of good food to be eaten, especially if you love seafood! A few of the highlights you’ll find are:

hikers wading across Carmanah Creek
These two hikers opt for wading across Carmanah Creek, one of many creek crossings along the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Parks Canada / Scott Munn)

Explore the West Coast Hiking Trail

I’m not going to lie this is not an easy hike and I did it ahem well over 20 years ago when I was in excellent shape. Sadly I have no photos of my own as I didn’t want to haul a camera with me and at the time I didn’t have a digital camera, if there were even small ones at the time I can’t recall lol Fortunately, Parks Canada has provided us with some amazing photos to show the true beauty of this trail.

A hiker marvels at the picturesque waterfall at Bonilla Creek
A hiker marvels at the picturesque waterfall at Bonilla Creek, on the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Parks Canada / Scott Munn.)

For hiking enthusiasts, The West Coast Hiking Trail is an amazing experience. This challenging trail is a multi-day experience involving backpacks and camping and is not for the faint of heart.

Multi-level ladders on West Coast Trail
Multi-level ladders like this are just one of the many challenging hiking features found on the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.). (Parks Canada / Scott Munn)

If you are traveling with small children or people with physical limitations, this trail is probably not the best choice for them, as it requires a lot of endurance. But if you love to hike and have been looking for a place of great beauty, far away from the things of man, you’ll want to keep this amazing hike on your To Do List.

people camping on the beach on the West Coast Trail
It doesn’t get much more epic than this – a waterfront campsite to yourselves on the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Parks Canada / Scott Munn)

Go See the Ucluelet Lighthouse

Sunset at Amphitrite Lighthouse at the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet.
Sunset at Amphitrite Lighthouse at the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. (Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht)

A much easier walk for families with children is the lighthouse loop in Ucluelet. More like a leisurely stroll through a beautiful park, this walk is perfect for anyone who loves lighthouses. The 2.6-kilometer hike takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete, leaving you plenty of time to get in some whale watching!

Go Whale Watching in Tofino

A group of orcas on Vancouver Island Coast.
A group of orcas on Vancouver Island Coast. (Destination BC/Reuben Krabbe)

This area of Vancouver Island is well-known for whale watching. The peak season to see whales is from May through October and with the right guides, you are almost guaranteed to see at least one whale swimming around out there in the wild blue sea. They say that when you see whales, they swim their joy right into you. That’s a pretty great way to spend your time, right?

Sunrise at Wild Pacific Trail, the Coast of Vancouver Island in Ucluelet.
Sunrise at Wild Pacific Trail, the Coast of Vancouver Island in Ucluelet. (Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht)

Discover a New Favorite Restaurant

Tofino and Ucluelet have both become rather well-known for their restaurants. Seafood restaurants abound, but you’ll also find Italian, American, and Canadian cuisine of every variety – most of them rated 4 and 5 stars among tourists. Bring an appetite!

Dessert from Cuckoo in Coombs
Dessert from Cuckoo in Coombs. (Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

In fact one of my favourite restaurants ever in Coombs is called Cuckoo in Coombs and I love love the food there. Every time I’m in the area, going through the area I try to make time to stop to eat there. That’s how much I enjoy the food.

Food from Cuckoo in Coombs.
(Courtesy of Michelle Sutter)

I’ve taken my family and friends at different times to introduce them to this restaurant and I recommend it all the time, so much so I was beginning to think I should ask for a commission every time I sent people there haha. There are some other great restaurants especially in the market area where Cuckoos is and the Coombs market which I always stop by to see what they have.

This article was originally published on powered-by-mom.com.

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Michelle Sutter is a travel writer, brand ambassador, pet lover & last but not least a mom. Visit her blog powered-by-mom.com.
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