Vancouver Island was the last leg of our epic adventure… and what a leg it was!
We sailed from Vancouver Horseshoe Bay across to Departure Bay in Nanimo out on Vancouver Island. We were heading straight from there to stay with friends Coral and Josh near Qualicum Beach.
It was a nice evening drive down the coast. We stayed with them for a few nights. While we were there it was simply stunning weather and some very incredibly stary night skies. They have a super cute dog which they only recently got. He is a 1 year old mastiff share pei cross. Completely adorably and loveable. We had a great time hanging out with him and taking him on some adventures.
In that area we took some adventures to see some things close by. There were some great waterfalls such as Little Qualicum Falls and Englishman River Falls. Both were really cool and very different. The top of Englishman River Falls flattens out and runs very shallow over rocks before plunging into the canyon underneath.
We spent an afternoon enjoying the warm shallow water out at spider lake. It was a beautiful spot. A good place for the dog and the kids to practise swimming.
Coral had got us some tickets into the animal rescue centre / place you can visit. We went there one morning and had a nice walk around. It was really interesting learning about the animals they rescue and some of the stories. Some of the animals can never leave due to permanent injuries or other things so they are now for people to see and learn about.
The best story was that of a bald eagle who had it’s beak shot off by poachers. It was taken to the rescue centre and there with the help of professional dentists they fabricated many fake beaks for it so it would live. It like at the rescue centre for about 10 years before it eventually died of natural causes.
We also enjoyed a few good lunches out while we were there. In Coombs is the Coombs Country Market and The Goats on the Roof. This is an awesome place and I do not recommend going there if you don’t want to spend lots of money. The other fantastic place we visited was Bread and Honey, this little cafe does amazing sandwiches for a really good price. We had spicy seared tuna fillet and crispy chicken. Both were awesome.
From Qualicum Beach we made our way up north. We went to the Free BC Hydro Campground at Strathcona Dam. A beautiful little spot out on the peninsular was left just for us. Overlooking a waterfall upstream and then a nice pool of fresh super clear not too cold water out in front. We spent the afternoon swimming and watching ‘Yabbies’ (fresh water mini lobster) swimming around with little sucker fish. Such a stunning spot.
After our epic night in the amazing spot we made our walk back out. Stopping at the Elk Falls provincial park along the way for a nice little leg stretch.
From there we continued north right up to Cape Scott. When we arrived the weather was turning to complete crap. It was thick with fog and rain starting to set in. We arrived in the late afternoon so decided we would find a spot to camp and hope for better weather in the morning to do some hikes.
We went back down the road a few minutes and went into the forestry campsite. It was a nice little free campsite with really lovely secluded spots. We were the only people staying there and we picked a spot close to the entrance which backed onto a very stagnant river. Despite this very underwhelming explanation the place was awesome, nestled in the rainforest below giant trees!
The next day the weather was even worse and we knew it was then meant to rain for the next few days so we just packed up and headed back out.
Along the way on the dusty road far from anywhere was the most peculiar sight. A whole bunch of old shoes nailed up and piled around a little area. No idea why they were there or what the reason way but it was creepy and interesting at the same time. Right on the side of the main road out to Cape Scott by a lake with nothing else around we passed this strange sight. At the top was a sign that had been nailed up to saying… ‘Jesus is waiting, give him your soul.” That was the creepiest part. Then a friend pointed out to me only a few weeks ago the funny side. See if you can work it out too?
We made our way back down to the Strathcona Dam campground and set up for a rainy night. We have got very professional at setting up our camp now so no matter the weather it is always fun and snugly!
It was a long drive the next day, we wanted to make it all the way down the other end of Vancouver Island to Victoria. We had to get to TCH Mile ‘0’. The full completion of our trip, St John’s – Eastern most point and TCH Mile ‘0’ Newfoundland. All the way to Vancouver Island TCH Mile ‘0’ and Cape Scott, almost the western most point of Canada. There are only a few more island that are further west.
When we got there it was the only part of Vancouver Island that was in the sunshine. We took a beautiful afternoon stroll along the rocky and driftwood beach front before heading over to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the resident Seals which you can feed if you wish. They were fat enough so we decided not to feed them too.
We had some delicious fresh fish for our dinner down on the docks. John had amazing halibut fish and chips and I had halibut and tuna tacos. Both were awesome! We then went to have some amazing dairy queen ice-cream for dessert on our way to a Walmart where we set camp for the night.
We then made our way back up the island slowly. Just our of Victoria we found the Kinsol Trestle bridge. This is the largest wooden trestle bridge in the world. (I think that is right anyway). We walked out along the bridge and then down and around under it. It is huge and super cool.
Our destination for the day was out on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the famous spot Tofino!!
We arrived in the evening and went to find a camping spot. Things there are expensive and lots were booked out but we did get what would have been an amazing spot if the weather were not torrential rain.
To pass some time in the rainstorm we went down the road to visit the Tofino brewery where we enjoyed a delicious selection of beers along with almost everyone else in the town. What better to do in the rain?
It was the most expensive night of accommodation on our trip at the campsite. Fortunately we were fine under the crazy waterfall making lakes around our feet but we felt sorry for all the people around in tents who were not so fortunate. By morning half the campground had emptied out because of the rain.
We had hoped to spend a few days out there but given the weather and price of accommodation we decided to just spend the day looking around town and doing some hikes in the park. Fortunately the weather was only overcast so we were able to get out and enjoy everything.
We walked through the rainforest trails in the park, along the beach looking for the adorable little sea otters. Didn’t see any though. Plus we did a few extra short trails as we made our way back over toward Qualicum Beach.
We went back to see our friends Coral and Josh for a few more days before the famous Sean and Bonnie made their way out to see us. Sean partly grew up on Vancouver Island in Qualicum Beach and his mum still lives there so we went and stayed with them. It was a fantastic few days!
We met up just before lunch just as the nice weather decided to show up too. It was perfect timing. We went out for more exploring that afternoon. We went to the coombs country market to get some goodies and go for lunch at a great little Mexican food truck around the back. Yuummy!!
We went up to visit the Englishman river falls again which this time came along with many of Sean’s classic stories. On the way we went past where he used to live and his old stomping grounds. We then went up little mountain which had a spectacular view over the area.
The next day the weather was good and we took that opportunity to head across to enjoy Tofino in the sunshine. It was beautiful. We went to Cox Beach where we watched the surfers all day before heading back in the evening.
On the last day we went for Sunday brunch at a place his mum recommended. Realm. It was so good! Owned by two chefs who source their produce as local as they can. Best brunch I have had outside of NZ and that is saying something! It was like normal things but with a delicious twist. Eggs bennie with braised pork and shredded apple, Eggs bennie with bacon, avocado, greens and a side of chipotle hollandaise. Along with many other exciting things. It was great!
After brunch we went to play some amazing mini golf. Sean won. But he had played it so many times in his childhood he knew all the tricks… We then we out to take a nice little walk with Coral and Rufus also. The hole in the wall. It was a pretty cool sight.
We spent some time in the afternoon walking the beach in Qualicum and searching for the famous Vancouver Island Sand Dollars. Unfortunately we only found some broken ones though.
We were up early the next morning to head out and leave Vancouver Island. Heading back onto the mainland and up to Logan Lake to begin our training with Kingmik Dog Sled Tours ready for the winter! The Epic holiday is over and the new epic life adventure begins!