Vancouver Island in June?
February 9, 2019 9:00 AM   Subscribe

How crowded/touristy does Vancouver Island get in June?

My husband and I are trying to plan our vacation for this summer, and we were looking for more low-key, outdoors-y experiences. We've narrowed down our list to a few places, but right now we're leaning towards Vancouver Island (it looks beautiful, with plentiful hiking/biking trails, gardens, etc. ). Our one concern is that of crowds-- how touristy/crowded does Vancouver Island get in June? I expect there to be a lot of people in Victoria, obviously, but say if we were to hike the Wild Pacific Trail, will we be running into a ton of people constantly? Any insights into this would be welcome-- most research I've done doesn't address this aspect of the Island. Any tips on where to go for more solitary experiences would be great as well!
posted by MundaneNoodle to Travel & Transportation around British Columbia (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I live in Victoria. We vacation "up-Island" during the summer, and it gets packed. If you're planning a trip, book now (like, by the end of February).

That said, while traffic can be a bit of a nightmare if you're driving from Victoria north on Hwy 1, in general the reason why things are so packed is because of lack of room and campsite inventory, rather than the sheer number of people. It's a big island.

You mentioned the Wild Pacific Trail. This is a municipal walking path in Ucluelet, which is about 50 km south of Tofino. It's a really nice trail with spectacular views, but it's not a destination in and of itself.

Ucluelet and Tofino both get packed in the summertime (Tofino is essentially maturing into an upscale resort town like Aspen or Whistler), but, once again, it's just because there isn't a lot of hotel, Airbnb or campsite inventory. But if you can get a place to stay, or can reserve a campsite in Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino and Ucluelet are definitely worth the trip.

I wonder if you're thinking of the West Coast Trail, an isolated coastal wilderness trail that stretches from Port Renfrew to Bamfield. This particular wilderness trail is managed so that it is not packed with hikers. However, you need to reserve a spot about a year in advance.

However, the Juan de Fuca Trail is an alternative. The Juan de Fuca Trail travels from China Beach, just north of Jordan River, to Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew. You don't need a reservation to do this trail, and it offers some spectacular scenery. There aren't a whole lot of hikers on this trail, but it does travel through a couple of popular beaches and shorelines.

We typically do a family camping trip at China Beach, and it's spectacular. The actual trailhead for the trail is at neighbouring Mystic Beach. Mystic can get pretty crowded, but that's just because it's a small beach. You leave the crowd behind almost immediately.

The Juan de Fuca Trail ends at Botanical Beach, another beach we visit pretty regularly. Botanical is actually several kilometers of sandstone tide pools and spectacular coastline, and is a great daytrip. Hikers usually need to catch a short ride into the village of Port Renfrew to catch the shuttle bus back to Victoria.

If you really want to escape the crowds, why not check out Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northern tip of the Island? There's a good overnight (3 nights) hike there to some spectacular beaches. The entrypoint is Port Hardy, and a local tourism org offers guided tours (they have some other cool tours to the Great Bear Rainforest, too).

Port Hardy is at least an eight-hour drive from downtown Victoria (add another hour if coming from Swartz Bay or Anacortes ferries; best way to drive onto the Island is on the Blackball Coho ferry via Port Angeles).

I think that's too long of a drive, so a better investment in your time would be to fly in via floatplane from Victoria harbour.

Victoria itself is worth a visit. I live literally a block away from the edge of the main tourist district, and it does get crowded in summer. I actually like the return of the tourists, because the whole downtown becomes vibrant and alive with people just hanging out. There's also tons of outdoorsy stuff to do in Victoria, from renting bicycles or renting a sea kayak to explore the Inner and Upper Harbours.

June is my favourite month in Victoria. The days are long and everything is beautiful and green -- it's pretty magical at dusk at, say, 9:30pm.

That said, I have noticed that it tends to rain a bit more on the Island in June compared to May or July.
posted by JamesBay at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Just to warn you, the weather is still pretty iffy in June. If you have a choice, July or even better, August might be better for you.
posted by k8t at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2019

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