Fun Things to Do on the Island

Vancouver Island has been a part of British Columbia since the late 1800s, and it is one of the most popular visiting spots in the entire province. Though only a thin strip of the Island is actually populated, there is plenty of fun to have when you visit this island, which is a breathtaking combination of natural beauty and urban entertainment.

We dive into the best activities you can take on Vancouver Island, from taking a skywalk and exploring some of its thousands of islands to playing low-stake casino games for a little extra excitement. Keep reading and discover the best attractions in this part of British Columbia.

Indoor Activities

Vancouver Island gets about 200 rainy days a year, which is nearly two-thirds, which is exactly why planning indoor activities when visiting this island is a good idea. Here are some ideas.

Afternoon Tea

There are very few places in the world as devoted to the tradition of afternoon tea as Victoria – the capital of Vancouver Island. There are more than 10 dedicated tea rooms that you can visit to get the authentic afternoon tea experience, complete with multi-tiered silver trays that carry cakes.

Whether you go with the most popular choice and try the afternoon tea experience at the Fairmont Express Hotel or prefer a quaint option like White Heather Tea Room, you will have plenty of options. This activity is perfect for a rainy afternoon if you want to stay cozy and comfortable.

Cup of Tea and Casino Cards and Chips

Visit a Casino

If you want to feel the thrill of gambling, Vancouver Island is home to several high-end land-based casinos that offer you access to various slots and table games. You can enjoy this activity only if you are 19 years old or older since that is the minimum gambling age in British Columbia and Canada in general.

Though there are multiple venues you can opt for if you want the brick-and-mortar casino experience, Casino Nanaimo stands out as the leading choice. Not only does it offer a variety of slot machines and casino tables like blackjack and roulette, but it boasts great music, dining, and even coffee. So, it’s no surprise that it has a strong rating of 3.5/5 on TripAdvisor.

Apart from Casino Nanaimo, the River Rock Casino Resort and the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver are other choices contributing to the gaming scene. Evaluated and rated by Top10DesCasinos , these casinos feature extensive gaming options, luxurious amenities, and entertainment, making them among the top casinos in BC, for both locals and tourists alike. Whether seeking excitement or relaxation, these casinos promise an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Visit the U’mista Cultural Centre

The U’mista Cultural Centre has one goal: to conserve the cultural heritage of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw. This cultural center has several permanent exhibits that belong to the Potlatch Collection, which includes masks and other sacred regalia that were taken from the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw with the Potlatch ban.

This is the place to visit if you want to explore the history and the significance of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw to the community. Aside from the numerous historical objects on display, you can also explore contemporary objects that hold great value.

U’mista Cultural Centre and Craigdarroch Castle

Food and Drink Tours

If you’re looking for an activity that will take you out of the urban area but keep you away from the elements if necessary – you can always go with the Wine and Food Tour in Cowichan Valley. This tour takes about 6 hours of your time, and it includes food and beverages at the price, which is what makes it a favorite among visitors.

Alternatively, if you want to stick closer to Victoria and do an activity that takes up less of your day, then you can experience Victoria's 3-hour Street Art & Craft Beer Tour. This tour includes a brewery tour and tasting, costing around $100 per adult.

Explore Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle was completed in the distant 1890, this stately home is only a castle by name since it wasn’t an official fortification. It’s widely recognized as a castle because of its appearance – the stone build, towering chimneys, and high ceilings.

Today, you can experience how life was from inside this home since it has been converted into a museum. The tour takes between 1 and 2 hours, and you can walk through the rooms and take in the decorations exactly as they were in the day of opulence and luxury of Robert and Joan Dunsmuir – the owners.

Outdoor Activities

Vancouver Island has some of the most beautiful natural sceneries you will come across in Canada. It is sprawling with towering mountains and stretching coastlines and is rich in diverse wildlife. That is why there are countless exciting and enjoyable outdoor activities you can partake in when visiting this island.

Climb the Malahat Skywalk

Malahat Skywalk was built on the historical grounds of the Malahat Nation in 2021, and it has become one of the biggest tourist attractions on Vancouver Island. This impressive build is 250m above sea level, and it boasts a spiral staircase that totals up to about 690m.

The best part about the Malahat Skywalk is that the staircase isn’t very steep, making it easy to climb, regardless of age or physical disposition. Once you get to the top, you get to enjoy the 360-degree viewing platform that allows you to take in sights for miles around you. Since it’s an open skywalk, this is a fair-weather type of adventure.

Malahat Skywalk, Mountain Biking and Kayaking

Go Mountainbiking

Vancouver Island boasts one of the most lush and scenic rainforests you can experience in the world, and there aren’t many ways to experience it as exciting as mountain biking. If you are up to it, you can choose from more than 170 trails.

Cumberland is the place to be for mountain bikers since it has trails tailored to everybody, whether you are a novice to this biking style or you have years of mountain biking under you. If you don’t have a bike, you can contact one of the rental companies and get a bike for the day. Apart from this trail, here are other popular trails known for mountain biking on the island, offering diverse terrain and stunning scenery:

  • Nanaimo River Trail
  • Mount Tzouhalem Trails
  • Hornby Island Trails

For those seeking a unique biking experience, Nanaimo’s Linley Valley, located in the city's northern section, offers picturesque trails winding through its stunning landscapes, providing a memorable adventure for cyclists of all skill levels.

Go on a Kayaking Tour

You can’t truly experience the wonder of Vancouver Island until you go on a kayaking tour and see the stunning seascapes for yourself. There are multiple kayaking tours across the island with varying time lengths and starting times, alongside vastly different areas they cover.

While some of these tours include simple coasting near the shores of Vancouver Island, others combine kayaking with whale watching. The prices per adult range from $70 to $350, depending on what the package includes and whether the tour is a half-day or a full-day option.

Rainforest Guided Hike

The Pacific Rim National Park is a rainforest in Vancouver Island that boasts lush, deep green vegetation and old-growth trees stretching up to 90 meters in the sky. While you can visit this national park on your own, getting a guided tour with an expert in wildlife and vegetation can take your overall experience to the next level.

Expert guide tours with private guides have prices of $100 per adult, typically lasting around 3 hours. If you opt for one of these hikes, make sure you are physically fit enough to be able to keep up with the guide through the forest.

Rainforest Hike, Skiing and Surfing

Surf

Though it may not be the first thing you associate it with, Vancouver Island is an excellent surfing location, thanks to its so-called surfing capital Tofino. The town may be small, with around 2000 residents, but the beaches stretch out for miles, offering exciting surfing opportunities for newbies and seasoned vets alike.

You can hit up the sheltered Mackenzie Beach, which is ideal for surfers with very little or no experience since the waves aren’t too rough. Alternatively, you can hit up the 16km Long Beach that is settled within the boundaries of the Pacific Rim National Park.

Skiing

You can’t talk about the beauty of British Columbia and Vancouver Island without taking about the most popular winter activity – skiing. Mt Washington enables visitors to experience exciting and accessible trail runs that are typically much less crowded than other BC ski centers.

Mount Washington boasts an impressive 500m vertical downhill area, enabling you to experience the excitement of skiing to the fullest extent. Moreover, this is the British Columbia ski center with the highest snowfall per year, with around 10m on average.

Conclusion

Vancouver Island is a place that has something for everyone. There is plenty of indoor excitement, various outdoor activities, and cultural sports for people to experience. Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to have a great time at Vancouver Island, BC.