The Communities of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, British Columbia. Cities and towns on Vancouver Island and BC's Gulf Islands

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Vancouver Island

Alert Bay | Bamfield | Campbell River | Chemainus
Comox | Courtenay | Cumberland | Duncan | Gabriola Island |
Gold River | Gulf Islands | Ladysmith | Lake Cowichan
Nanaimo | Parksville | Port Alberni | Port Alice
Port Renfrew | Port Hardy | Port McNeill | Qualicum Beach
Sayward | Sidney | Sooke | Tahsis
Telegraph Cove Tofino | Ucluelet | Victoria
Alert Bay is on the small island of Cormorant, and can be reached by ferry from Port McNeill, which is just off Hwy19, and 200km (124mi) north of Campbell River. Fishing and tourism keep this community lively.

This out-of-the-way salmon fishing centre is on the southeast side of Barclay Sound. During the summer, sports fishermen use it as a base to fish Barclay Sound and Alberni Inlet. Many others come to hike, scuba dive and canoe

Campbell River, historically renowned as the "Salmon Capital of the World", is surrounded by Strathcona Provincial Park to the west and the Coastal mountain range to the east. Campbell River is 50 km (31 mi.) north of Courtenay on Highway 19, 270 km (167 mi.) north of Victoria and 235 km (146 mi.) south of Port Hardy. It is served by BC Ferries from Campbell River to Quadra Island (3 km/2mi.).

Located on Stuart Channel, just east of Hwy 1, 78km (46.5mi) north of Victoria is Chemainus. Local artists have make it "Canada's largest outdoor art gallery". The 32 large murals, painted on downtown walls, depicting the history of the area, are more than just a local attraction. It's said that over 250,000 people from far and wide come to see these murals.

Comox is 6 km (4 mi.) east of Courtenay, off Highway 19. It is served by BC Ferries from Powell River (27 km/17 mi.). Summer or winter, the Comox Valley has something to offer any outdoor enthusiast: golf courses, hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, photography, and sightseeing.

Courtenay is 60 km (37 mi.) north of Qualicum Beach on Highway 19 or 220 km (137 mi.) north of Victoria. Courtenay accommodations include full-service hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments. Many of these offer ski packages in the winter and salmon fishing packages in the summer. There are also private and provincial campsites available.

This former coal mining town of Cumberland during its hey day supported a population of approximately 10,000. The big Victorian styled homes built at the turn of the century, are being restored. Several building in the downtown area, that house art galleries and craft shop, have been refurbished.

The "City of Totems" is a major business centre for the farming and forestry industries of the Cowichan Valley. Duncan is 60 km (37 mi.) north of Victoria on Highway 1. The lakes and rivers surrounding Duncan offer good freshwater fishing, canoeing and boating, while the surrounding countryside is a haven for hikers, bikers, photographers and sightseers.


Gabriola is the most northerly of the Southern Gulf Islands and lies in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. It is one of the most accessible in the Gulf Islands with ferry service running daily, 16 times each way, a 5km/3mi, 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo.

The logging town of Gold River is located in the Gold River Valley and can be accessed either by water or from Hwy 28 southwest of Campbell River. The area offers the visitor excellent fishing and caving.

Idyllic in landscape, rustic in character, the Gulf Islands bask in a mild climate and pastoral tranquility. Almost 200 islands of all shapes and sizes lie tucked against the southeastern shore of Vancouver Island with only the invisible international boundary dividing them from the San Juan Islands in US waters. The charming island communities offering a variety of services and accommodations. A must see for every BC visitor.

Ladysmith is 85km (53mi) north of Victoria on Hwy 1. The downtown features restored heritage buildings, art galleries, gift and antique shops. Take a walk along the natural deep harbour where you can enjoy fishing, swimming or just relaxing.

North of Duncan, take Hwy 18 to Lake Cowichan. Around Lake Cowichan's shore is a network of nature walks. The Cowichan Valley Demonstration Forest , located along the lake, on Hwy 18, provides an outdoor classroom of forest management. Take your camera and prepare for some picture postcard scenery.

Nanaimo, known as the Harbour City, is Vancouver Island's second largest city. For the outdoor enthusiast, the area in and around Nanaimo offers hiking trails, a nature centre, bird sanctuary and picnic and swimming sites plus great fishing opportunities. Nanaimo is 26 km (16 mi.) north of Ladysmith or 110 km (68 mi.) north of Victoria on Highway 1. It is served by BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver); a crossing time of 1 hour and 35 minutes and from Tsawwassen it takes two hours.

Parksville is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 37 km (23 mi.) north of Nanaimo, on Highway 19 or 144 km (89 mi.) north of Victoria. Whether it is for camping, hiking, fishing, playing on the beach or exploring the natural wonders of the area, Parksville has something to offer everyone

Port Alberni is 50 km (31 mi.) west of Parksville or 121 km (121 mi.) northwest of Victoria on Highway 4. With the increased popularity of Pacific Rim National Park, Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds, and the incredible sports fishing available, more and more visitors are using their vacations in Port Alberni take day trips to a variety of West Coast locations.

In 1965, Port Alice made history by becoming the first instant town incorporated in B.C, although pulp and paper mills have operated here since 1918. This is a good place for boat launching to fish and explore the inlets along Quatsino Sound (west side of Vancouver Island).

Port Hardy is often used as a "jumping off point " for those wanting to explore the wonders of the northern part of Vancouver Island; spectacular scenery, great fishing, whale watching and sightseeing. Port Hardy, at the northern terminus of the Island Highway is 50 km (31 mi.) north of Port McNeill, on Highway 19

Port McNeill is the gateway to the northern part of the Island. As well as being so close to the amenities and activities of the north island, there are many recreation opportunities for the visitor right in the Port McNeill area. Port McNeill is 200 km (124 mi.) north of Campbell River, off Highway 19 or 50 km (31 mi.) south of Port Hardy. BC Ferries has a sailing to Alert Bay (8 km) and Sointula.

To get to the west side of Vancouver Island, from Victoria, take Hwy 14 to Sooke and then northwest to the end of the road, which is at Port Renfrew. This small quaint settlement is located at the mouth of the San Juan River and Port San Juan. Port Renfrew is the southeast end of the Pacific Rim National Park's West Coast Trail.

Facing the Strait of Georgia, its on Hwy 19 (the Island Highway) and is only 10km (6mi) north of Parksville. This pleasant village is close to the beach, and along the way there are quaint shops, galleries and restaurants. Fishing and golfing are popular activities in the area.

70km (43mi) north of Campbell River on Hwy 19, turn east on a paved road and travel for 10km (5.6mi) to the village of Sayward and the Kelsey Bay Wharf. This serves as a centre for the Salmon River valley area.

Sidney is located 25 km (16 mi.) north of Victoria, on Highway 17. It is the terminus of the Washington State Anacortes and San Juan Islands Ferry. Sidney offers the charm and character of a seaside town complete with a wonderful variety of shops, museums and interesting outdoor activities.

Located 34 km (21 mi.) west of Victoria, on Highway 14, Sooke is a pleasant village on the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, where visitors can explore its history, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. In Sooke you can camp by the sea in one of the private or provincial campsites, stay in a hotel/motel or enjoy a leisurely bed and breakfast.

This forestry community at the head of Tahsis Inlet is 70km (43mi) northwest of Gold River on a gravel road. Canoeing, kayaking, caving, fishing, and hiking are all very popular in this region.

Established in 1911-12 during the building of the telegraph line from Campbell River north to the tip of the Island. Later it became a sawmill community and now is major destination for the coastal wilderness, including whale-watching tours.

Tofino, on the northern boundary of Pacific Rim National Park is a relaxed, casual place; a place to get back to nature. You can walk for hours along the beach and explore pathways that lead through the rainforest to secret coves and beach caves. Tofino is 42 km (26 mi.) north of Ucluelet on Highway 4, 130 km (81 mi.) west of Port Alberni and 337 km (209 mi.) northwest of Victoria.

Leaving Port Alberni, Highway 4 travels west to climb around Sproat Lake through the stunning mountain scenery of the Mackenzie Range and along Kennedy Lake to reach the west coast of Vancouver Island and the communities of Ucluelet and Tofino.

Perched on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. Made up of the city of Victoria and the municipalities of Oak Bay, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt, Greater Victoria boasts a population of almost 290,000, making it the island's largest metropolitan area. Whether you are a history buff, enjoy sightseeing, shopping or engaging in recreational activities, Victoria has much to offer.

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The Communities of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, British Columbia. Cities and towns on Vancouver Island and BC's Gulf Islands