Vancouver Island, simply put, is paradise. It’s the Land of the Mighty Yellow Cedars and Giant Sequoias and stands of ancient Douglas Firs in a forest called the Cathedral Grove because the church-spire trees are older, taller and many say holier than the medieval churches of Europe. It’s no wonder there’s a fabulous selection of Vancouver Island resorts to choose from.
Vancouver Island is the getaway place for boho-types in search of island peacefulness.
This Pacific Coast island that juts out from Canada’s western mainland staggering between the outer limits of the United States has a certain je ne sais quoi appeal. It’s got everything and the locals know it.
For the rest of us who can only whet our appetites when visiting this forested island with its mild temperatures where the rhododendrons have been known to teeter past housetops, there are some promising places one can get away from it all.
Here’s where to hang on Vancouver Island:
1- Bear Mountain Golf Resort
For little white ball chasers
Mention a golf course with bears in it and chances are you’ll see golfers head to the hills. Not at Bear Mountain. This newly renovated Westin property known as the Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa gives golfers a chance to hit the fairways at the award-winning 18-hole course.
Situated in the foothills of Mount Finlayson with breathtaking views of Victoria’s seaside harbour, this luxury resort is home to the first and only Nicklaus Designed golf course on the island. The Bear Mountain golf course is good for scratch golfers and challenges novices.
Nice surprise: For a post-golf relax submerge in the renowned Sante Spa.
When to go: whenever you feel the urge to putt on the green.
2- Black Rock Oceanfront Resort
For eye candy and design lovers
Once you complete a mind-bending hike along the Wild Pacific Trail by Ucluelet walk another six minutes for another mind blower. This sight is of the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort.
Built from granite and glass the design of Black Rock Resort Ucluelet looks like it leapt from the pages of an architectural magazine. With so many incredible design features the 133-room property is sure to capture the interest of creative-types.
Neat surprise: Black Rock Ucluelet has an ultra-hip bar and a seasonal patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
When to go: Any season.
3- Free Spirit Spheres – Tree House Resort
For tree huggers
Literally hang out at Free Spirit Spheres. Situated smack between Vancouver Island’s Lighthouse country and Qualicum Beach, these adults-only sleeping quarters suspend high in the tree tops.
Accessible by spiral staircases and elevated walkways, you can say it’s a little piece of heaven. Guests enjoy sleeping high in the forest, listening to nature calls and don’t mind the snug dining areas either.
Neat surprises: Free Spirit Spheres is the world’s first manufacturer of spherical tree houses.
When to go: When the mood swings
4- Wickaninnish Inn
For the storm watcher
Gale force winds mixed with crashing waves hit the rocky promontory but you’ve got the fear factor covered. At Wickaninnish Inn Tofino, the guests come clambering in just to witness and view the power of Mother Nature in these luxe confines as the Pacific Ocean hurls itself onto the shoreline.
It helps the secluded Wick Inn has ocean view suites and a restaurant with floor to ceiling windows allowing best viewing points.
Inside the Wickaninnish Inn, some of the suites there’s a soaker Jacuzzi also with ocean views and complimentary rain jackets (neon orange), wellies and an umbrella to use on the premises. It is the best of the Tofino storm watching hotels, after all.
Neat surprises: Throughout the property are fine hand-carved artistry from the late resident artist Henry Nolla who added the exposed pillars and moldings and carved raven heads from the giant cedars among other masterpieces seen at the inn.
When to go: Storm watching season occurs November through February.
5- Inn at Laurel Point
For the ‘feel like away but in the city’
In Victoria, four-legged friends are welcomed at the Inn at Laurel Point. Doggie bed, bowls and special pet snacks created by the inn chef are part of the charm when staying there.
The Victoria city resort caters to those who want to relax in an urban setting without having to make a long drive to do it.
Nice surprises: Inn-room spa and a glass-encased indoor pool. The hotel also offers an electric car charging station and bike rentals.
When to go: Year-round
6- Glen Lyon Inn
For that million dollar view
Pegged for its million dollar view, the digs at Glen Lyon Inn & Suites might not be as posh as some of the other Vancouver Island resorts. Port Hardy hotels are not as glamorous as other on the island. But being a modern hotel in the hub of Port Hardy, Glen Lyon Inn boasts bay-facing suites. That means views galore.
From your balcony see bald eagles nesting on trees, spawning fish jumping at the mouth of the Glen Lyon River, and yes, the majestic killer whales too. Located at the most northern terminus on the Island Highway, it’s worth the drive to get there.
Nice surprises: Unpretentious, friendly atmosphere.
When to go: May-September for guaranteed whale watching tours.
7- Overbury Resort
For a wee isle surprise
Over by Thetis Island, a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island, lies an island getaway from an island getaway.
Inhabited roughly by 350 strong, those resort fans wanting an even remoter island head to the Overbury Resort. This historic property is big on capturing hearts and frequently serves as a backdrop for destination weddings.
Nice surprise: Dial back the clock and stay at one of these turn-of-the-century buildings or escape to the cozy waterfront cottages.
When to go: The Mediterranean combo of mild winters and warm, dry summers makes this spot ideal year-round but summertime is certainly the most radiant.
8- Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
For a wilderness hideaway
Yes, luxury can go wild especially at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Accessible only by floatplane, helicopter or boat, guests will arrive in under one hour from the mainland but boy the views will be grand as you whisk past the Pacific Rim National Park to the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere.
There’s a hefty trip menu attached to this wilderness resort that has outdoor seekers inching to try nearly every activity. Whether it’s sunrise for miraculous starts to the day or stunning sunsets that will bring a moment of awe. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is glamping BC at its finest.
The must-dos include wildlife viewing and wilderness activities. Bear and whale watching go hand in hand. Head out on a hard bottom Zodiac boat and be prepared for unbeatable sightseeing. Best time to see the black bears doing their thing is during low-tide when the furry critters hunt for snacks like crabs and other crustaceans.
Surprises: Luxury tented accommodations
When to go: Summer for the summer migration of humpback whales
9- Sooke Harbour House
It runs in the family. No sooner have you bitten into a fine helping from award-winning chef Michael Stadtlander at his rural dining digs in the province of Ontario (he’s been brandishing a farm-to-table mantra before it was entrend), than you discover, foodie legacies can come true.
In the coastal nook of Juan de Fuca Strait lies the Sooke Harbour House. This seaside property boasts an incredible location and for years has made gastro snobs smile with its earlier culinary encounters but now, guests and diners can expect to be wowed even more.
Stadlandter’s son Jonas is the executive chef at Sook Harbour House restaurant. Expect only the finest and freshest with a newly curated weekly menu to dazzle those taste buds.
Neat surprises: Thanks to a special 35-year relationship with local farms Sooke Harbour House Kitchen has a love of wild foods featured prominently throughout the menu. Think the 3 Fs: fishers, foragers and farmers. Guests will be delighted to scour the manicured garden with its seasonal edible blossoms and fresh wild mushrooms harvested wintertime.
When to go: Now.
10- Wya Point Resort
For First Nation ties
Located in an old First Nations village site only a stone’s throw from the world-famous Pacific Rim National Park guests staying at the Wya Point Resort are in for a treat.
Wya Point Resort is a triple treat in accommodations: friendly campground, luxurious lodges and rustic yurts.
Venture to this west side of the island to enjoy fishing charters, hiking, whale watching, surfing and chilling out by the sea.
Neat surprises: Two private beaches and the resort were honoured in 2014 to win the Outstanding Accommodation Award by Aboriginal Tourism BC.
When to go: High season is in summer, when outdoor lovers gather.
Discover British Columbia
Looking for more things to do off the beaten track? Here are more amazing places to visit in British Columbia.
When on Vancouver Island, Butchart Gardens is one place you must visit to see Canadian gardening at its best.
Read this 10-course storytelling menu for a taste of British Columbia.
While in Canada, meet the farmers of the Okanagan Valley.