When it comes to bucket list’s, people have varying ideas on what it should entail. For some, the list will include extravagant ideas, such as a hot-air balloon ride. For others, it will be a list of all the beaches they want to check out in a 30 km radius.

No matter how you fill your bucket list, I do feel it’s important to have one.

Think of your bucket list as a way of expressing your heart’s desires, no matter how big or small. And don’t be afraid to unshackle yourself from inhibitions. For example, maybe you have always had a desire to try bungee jumping, but you also have a fear of heights. Write it down anyway!

The following list is a combination of ideas from my personal bucket list and many must-see locations.

To try to appease everyone, the ideas are a mix of both extravagant items, as well as ones that will have more mass appeal.

Enjoy the Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List!

Free Printable

I know you are excited to get reading, but before you do, print this first!

I created a blank list for you to use to help with writing your own Vancouver Island Bucket List. If something catches your eye while reading the ideas below, jot it down. Of course, you can use any old piece of paper, but this one is fun, and created just for you!

So before reading any further, print off this handy list:

Vancouver Island Bucket List – Blank

Hatley Castle - one of the must see stops on the Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List
Hatley Castle

The Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List

Southern Vancouver Island

Greater Victoria Area

  • Fireworks at Butchart Gardens – Everyone loves watching fireworks. Unfortunately, you usually have to wait for some monumental festivity in order to see them. Lucky for us, every Saturday night (in the summer) Butchart Gardens puts on a spectacular fireworks show, with both aerial and ground displays, choreographed to music.
  • High Tea at the Empress – Experience one of Victoria’s grandest traditions. Choose among 21 of the finest loose teas available, while indulging on delicate pastries, scones, and other delicacies.
  • Explore The Castles
    • Craigdarroch Castle – take a walk through the Victorian era at this National Historic Site, and get a glimpse of what life was like for the privileged during the 1890s.
    • Hatley Castle – now used as an administration office for Royal Roads University, this Historic Site was originally built in 1908.
  • Whether you are interested in food, history, culture or ghosts, Victoria offers plenty of amazing tours
Juan de Fuca view. Vancouver Island View

Rugged South West Coast Area

  • Explore Sooke and its famous potholes
  • Botanical Beach – Explore this natural jewel in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park (near Port Renfrew) and discover the abundance of intertidal life, as well as fantastic sandstone formations.
  • Hike through Carmanah Walbran –  This rugged and remote Provincial Park is home to some of the biggest and best trees Vancouver Island has to offer.

Southern Gulf Island

Salt Spring Island Market – meander through Canada’s best-loved market held at Centennial Park in Ganges. With over 140 artisans and food producers, you are sure to find what you are looking for.

Chemainus Mural - fascinating finds on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley Area

  • Watch a Live Production – experience a world-class performance at the Chemainus Theatre. We have had the privilege of watching many plays here, and all have been spectacular!
  • While you are there, make sure to check out the adorable town of Chemainus, and view the famous murals.
  • Take in a wine tour – The Cowichan Valley is a mecca for foodies. Stop at any one of these locations on the Cowichan Valley Flavour Trail for a real treat.
Snorkeling with seals - one of the must see stops on the Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List.

Central Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Area

  • Brave the Primal Swing at WildPlay Nanaimo – catapult through the natural rock canyon above the Nanaimo River at speeds up to 140 km per hour.
  • Snorkel with the Seals – Don a wetsuit and head out to Snake Island with a reputable dive company to snorkel with the local wildlife.
  • Kayak around Newcastle Island – launch the kayaks in the Nanaimo Harbour (somewhere around Maffeo Sutton Park), and paddle to and around Newcastle Island for some fantastic sights. Or just take the small ferry and explore the little island on foot.
  • Malaspina Galleries – Explore the ancient rock formations overhanging the coastline of Gabriola Island.
Hole in the Wall waterfall - one of the unique walks on Vancouver Island.

Oceanside Area

  • Horne Lake Caves – Go underground for a fascinating view of crystal formations and other spectacular sights.
  • Some of Vancouver Island’s best beaches are located in the Oceanside area
  • Travel the slow meandering and beautiful Oceanside route from Parksville all the way to Comox.
The Cumberland Potholes is a hidden gem on Vancouver Island one should not miss out on!

Comox Valley

  • Fossil Tour – Using a chisel and hammer, dig for fossils with the Courtenay Museum and Paleontology Centre at a real fossil site.
  • Visit Hornby Island – Spread your toes in the white sandy beaches, swim in the warm ocean waters, and explore what is known as Canada’s “Little Hawaii”.
  • Check out the historic town of Cumberland, and while you are there the famous China Bowls
Buttle Lake

Campbell River Area

  • Elk Falls Suspension Bridge – For spectacular views of Elk Falls and the headwaters of Campbell River, walk across “the best suspension bridge on Vancouver Island”.
  • Hike Ripple Rock – Enjoy stunning views of Seymour Narrows, and learn about the history of the world’s largest non-nuclear underwater explosion.
West Coast of Vancouver Island - one of the must see stops on the Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List.

West Coast of Vancouver Island

  • Learn to Surf – Learn to ride the waves at one of the many surf schools located in Tofino.
  • Hike the West Coast Trail – Hike the full 75 km of this world-renowned trail, or a small portion of it, for some uniquely incredible sights.
  • The Wickaninnish Inn – With its amazing location, views, and service, this five-star resort is one of the most superb accommodations Vancouver Island has to offer.
  • Hot Springs Cove – For a truly unique experience, relax in the natural hot springs at Maquinna Marine Provincial Park.
  • Hike the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island – The star of this trail, the Hanging Garden Tree, was once considered the largest tree of its kind in Canada.
  • Kayak the Broken Islands – Take a day trip, or a multi-day trip, and explore the intricate waterways between more than 100 islands.

North Vancouver Island

Visit Telegraph Cove – Walk the boardwalk, view the scenery, and go on a sea adventure from the whale watching capital of BC.

Go on a Grizzly Bear tour – Take a ride up Knight Inlet for a superb chance of seeing Grizzly Bears.

Explore Princess Royal Island – the location where Spirit Bears are found most frequently.

Cape Scott – Vancouver Island’s furthest most northwestern tip, and some of the most remote terrain and beaches found on the Pacific Coast.

Little Huson Park – Explore the spectacular cave formations and fascinating surrounding scenery.

Alert Bay – Visit the oldest community on Northern Vancouver Island, and view the world’s tallest Totem Pole.

Quatsino Lodge – Stay at this remote lodge for some of the best sport fishing, most personal service, and all-around amazing experience.

Bere Point Regional Park – During July and August head to the viewing platform for your best chance at seeing Orca’s rubbing up against the rocks.


So there you have it…the Ultimate Vancouver Island Bucket List! No matter which area of Vancouver Island you are visiting, there is plenty to see and do!

What would you add?

Need a Place to Stay?

If you are looking for accommodation options while on Vancouver Island, feel free to use this handy search tool:

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The ultimate Vancouver Island bucket list. Vancouver Island View

11 Comments

  1. Veronica Forsman Reply

    I was wondering if there are any Hot Air Balloon rides that happen from the island at all?? I’m in the southern end in Victoria.

  2. Thank you for all your great suggestions! Is it worth taking a “tour” to see the bears? whales?.
    We are a family of grandparents, kids, grandkids (5 yrs & 9 yrs) travelling together for the first time to the West Coast. We have 2 nights in Vancouver , 1 night in Parksville (to avoid the kids having to travel a full day – ferry to Nanaimo and then rental car to Tofino). 3 nights to Tofina. Would you recommend we stay 3 nights in Vancouver and then ferry and drive to Tofino and skip the 1 night in Parksville??We could not get our accommodations in Tofino for 4 nights so we decided to spend a night in Parksville? But now we think we should just spend 3 nights in Vancouver instead? Thanks!
    Angie

    • Kim Reply

      Hi Angie, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Vancouver has lots to keep one occupied for three nights, and plenty for kids to do. But then again, so does Parksville. They are two totally different experiences. Vancouver is a big city, while Parksville is a small town with a laid-back vibe. It all depends on what kind of trip you are hoping for. I love them both, so have a hard time giving you a definitive answer. I think your best bet is to do some research on Vancouver and make a list of all you wish to see while there. If you don’t feel 2 nights is going to be enough time, then definitely stay the extra night. I hope that helps a little!

    • Kim Reply

      Oops, I failed to answer your first question…if seeing wildlife is something your family enjoys then, yes, I highly recommend a whale watching tour or bear sighting tour. I’ve been on quite a few and would still jump at the chance to do it again.

  3. Great list, I think I might add the inner harbour ferry mini rides for a great perspective being on the water, whale watching tours , IMAX theatre & museum for Victoria. In Parksvile in the summer over a 6 week period is the Sandcastle Competition with competitors world wide displaying great sculptures down on the community park.

    Happy travels,

    Ruth

  4. Gizi McLeod Reply

    You could add the bungee jump park on the tressel over the bridge.
    The caves just outside of Gold River are spectacular.
    And not much was said about the 100’s of beautiful other beaches, and swimming spots besides Tribune Bay beach. When I’m a tourist somewhere and it’s a hot sunny day, I get frustrated not knowing where the local best swimming spot is.. just a thought.
    I really enjoyed your list though. It’s all good on Vancouver Island..!! Born and bred there even though now I live in Edm due to the lack of jobs on the island. Now I’m retired and ready to move back to Comox Valley area but, due to lack of housing I’m being held up… lots of challenges..!!
    Thx again..!
    Gizi McLeod

    • Kim Reply

      All great suggestions! Thank you Gizi. When curating this list, I found it so hard to narrow it to just this many. There really are so many fantastic things to see and do here. However, I had to stop somewhere. 🙂 Many of these places are written about if you search the website. There is a feature article on Little Huson Caves (if those are the caves you are referring to), and yes, they are pretty spectacular. There is also an article about Wildplay (the bungee jump park). However, I LOVE your suggestion about the best local swimming spots! I will definitely look into writing an article about that. Thank you so much! And I am sorry to hear about your challenges. Hopefully, you will be ever here soon. All the best to you!

  5. Thanks for the ideas, it has given me a lot of very different ideas from the usual travel agent ones.

    • Kim Reply

      Thank you Lynnette! I am so glad to hear you say that. I always like to try to give unique ideas.

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