Situated in the southwest corner of British Columbia, just off Canada’s west coast, Vancouver Island is a large, beautiful, lush island, with a temperate Mediterranean climate, stunning mountain ranges, long expanses of gorgeous beaches, and natural rain forests.
At 480 km in length, and 80 km at its widest point, this amazing island is large enough to have six diverse regions, six major urban centres, as well as numerous smaller communities and villages. Victoria, BC’s capital city, is the largest community, situated on the southernmost tip, with about 350,000 of the island’s approximately 750,000 inhabitants. Other major centres situated up the east coast of the island include Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay and Campbell River. Another smaller community, Ladysmith, has been in the news recently as the original home of actress, Pamela Anderson, whom reportedly is considering a condo development in the area.
There are seemingly endless possibilities for relaxation and recreation, with a world-class tourism infrastructure in place, upscale accommodation and spas, fine dining, shopping, and outdoor adventures, offering everything from kayaking, canoeing, fishing, whale-watching, wildlife viewing, bungy jumping, seasonal skiing, and Canada’s best surfing on the island’s pacific coast.
LGBT life is also alive and well on the island, with the most developed activities in Victoria, and to some extent in Nanaimo, but with a little research, you can find gay owned and operated, and LGBT friendly businesses, in various locations outside the main urban centres.
British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria, located on the southernmost tip of spectacular Vancouver Island, is just a short flight or scenic catamaran ferry ride from BC’s lower mainland region, Metro Vancouver, and Washington State. You can also reach this delightful, cosmopolitan island destination via car ferry, motorcoach, commercial flight, stylish Helijet, or even as part of an incredible whale watching adventure from downtown Vancouver with the Prince of Whales.
Victoria is known for its old-world charm, decidedly British flavour, world-class hotels, historic castles, decadent dining, wine, seafood, and some of the best microbreweries on the west coast. Garden lovers will also be in second heaven in this city of lush public parks and gardens, exotic trees and flowering plants, as well as the world-renowned Butchart Gardens.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is a one of Canada’s most spectacular city harbours, and a great starting point for exploring the many sights, sounds and tours available in this thriving tourism hotspot. Located just steps from the harbour, the Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM), is one of the foremost cultural institutions in the world, housing British Columbia’s provincial museum and archives. The RBCM also offers a state-of-the-art IMAX Theatre, and will be host to China’s Terracotta Army exhibition in late 2011 as it begins its Canadian tour.
The rainbow flag is flown proudly in Victoria, and Victoria has a small but active gay and lesbian scene. The 2011 Victoria Pride Festival had a full schedule of events and was bigger and better than ever as it celebrated 17 years. Additional information on Victoria, Pride and more is available at: www.victoriapridesociety.org and www.tourismvictoria.com
Top five things to do in Victoria
Victoria boasts the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America offering everything from casual cafes, to microbrew pubs to fine dining. Victoria’s hot, young chefs and the Island cuisine they create have garnered Victoria and Vancouver Island a prominent place on the culinary map.
2. Culinary Tourism
Culinary tourism has taken root in Victoria and on Vancouver Island. Visit acclaimed wineries, cideries and farms. Sample the region's organic produce, artisan cheeses and locally-produced gourmet fare. Do so on your own or join a tour for a behind-the-scenes experience.
The Ale Trail
Victoria has several microbreweries – many of which produce less than 15,000 barrels annually. Victoria’s micro-brewed beers are local, authentic and unique. Most breweries are within walking distance of Victoria’s historical, vibrant downtown core and Inner Harbour. Follow the “Ale Trail” and visit one or all of Victoria’s world-class breweries.
Southern Vancouver Island is the second largest wine region in British Columbia - next to the Okanagan Valley. The majority of Vancouver Island’s wineries are located 45 minutes north of Victoria. The vineyards located here enjoy a unique location with ideal growing conditions on southern, sun-drenched slopes. The scenery surrounding Vancouver Island’s vineyards also warrants recognition. Rolling pastures framed by ocean and mountain views make a self-guided tour of the wineries a must for any wine enthusiast.
Victoria and Vancouver Island's golf courses are a golfer’s paradise. With a climate that encourages golfing year-round, the region is home to many of Canada’s most beautiful and challenging courses. Experience the thrill of a Jack Nicklaus designed course complemented by rolling coastline and an ocean view. Or take in the splendour of the natural scenery, while playing on a course once challenged by Tiger Woods himself.
According to the Government of Canada (Statistics Canada 2001), Victoria is rated “Canada’s Fittest City” and the “Cycling Capital of Canada”. With the mildest climate in the country, Victoria is Canada’s destination for year-round outdoor adventure. Victoria provides easy access to miles of scenic trails and sites that incorporate old growth rain forests, ocean shores and mountains. Cycling, hiking, kayaking and golf are just a few of the activities regularly enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Whale-watching in Victoria & Vancouver Island is awesome! No other spectacle of nature compares to the sight of a killer whale breaching out of the deep blue water only 100 metres from your boat. Victoria and Vancouver Island are well known as the place to view migrating and resident whales in their natural surroundings. The area also provides a number of other wildlife-watching opportunities throughout the seasons.
Getting to Victoria from Vancouver, BC is easy. There are a variety of scenic options including car and passenger ferries, sightseeing coaches, helicopters, float planes and commercial airlines.
Lots of Tourist Attraction Info.
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