Canada,

Self Drive Highlights of Vancouver Island

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Tailor-Made Tour
13 Days
From £3154
GEOIP Not Available
Whale Watching
Budget
Self Drive

Tour Introduction

13 Days from £3154
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you

Taking in grizzly and black bears, two populations of orcas, grey and humpback whales, mountains, beaches, ancient forests and Vancouver itself, this self-drive holiday is ideal for those that enjoy exploring at their own pace. With a mixture of boat trips, kayaking and hiking this itinerary provides an opportunity to explore some of Vancouver Islands’ top natural attractions at your own pace. Starting with the orcas and marine life of the Salish Sea, you then begin exploring Vancouver Island. The rugged coastline and old growth forests of sleepy Ucluelet are home to many black bears, while grey whales, porpoises, sea lions and occasional sea otters can be spotted at sea. Heading further north Telegraph Cove offers calmer water, ideal for kayaking and more orca viewing. There is also an exciting day trip into the dramatic landscapes of Knight Inlet, home to grizzly bears, bald eagles and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Full Itinerary

Price from £3154
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms and travel in September. Includes all domestic flights, activities and accommodation but excludes car hire which can be quoted for.
Day 1
Arrive Vancouver

Met on arrival in Vancouver with a private transfer to your hotel in downtown Vancouver. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax and recover from your flight.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 2
Salish Sea

njoy the morning at leisure to recover from your flight. Around mid-day pick up from the hotel by shuttle bus for the transfer to Steventon.

Enjoy a shared guided whale watching trip into the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands to south of Vancouver in search of orcas and humpback whales.

Both Transient ‘mammal-eating’ orcas and southern resident 'fish-eating' orcas frequent these waters. The southern resident orcas are now sadly very endangered, but the transient orcas are more abundant.

Humpback whales are also now regular in this area particularly from June to September. Other wildlife likely to be seen includes huge Steller’s sea lions, Pacific harbour seals, many seabirds and bald eagles. Return to your hotel in the evening by shuttle bus.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 3
Ucluelet

Today pick up from the hotel and transfer to Vancouver Airport’s South Terminal. Take Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Campbell River.

On arrival at the airport collect your hire car (not included in tour cost and can be quoted for depending on size) and self-drive (approx. 4 hours) to Ucluelet at your own pace. Take your time to enjoy the mountain and forest scenery and any wildlife along the way.

Staying at Waters Edge Shoreside Suites. Includes No Meals.

Day 4
Ucluelet and Tofino

Early this morning take an excursion by boat with Remote Passages around the sheltered coastal inlets in search of Ucluelet and Tofino in search of black bears that forage at low tide along the shoreline for crabs. Enjoy watching the bears go about their daily business from a respectful distance.

Later perhaps use the afternoon to explore the mossy old growth temperate rainforest of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Or perhaps walk one of Ucluelet or Tofino’s wild and windswept beaches. This is also a good area for birdlife with migratory waders and seabirds passing through in the spring and autumn.

Staying at Waters Edge Shoreside Suites. Includes No Meals.

Day 5
Ucluelet and Tofino

Today (weather permitting) take a boat trip further out to sea with Remote Passages in search of both grey and humpback whales that feed in the rich waters along this stretch of the Pacific coast. Grey whales pass here on their migration north (March and April) and south (October) but also as many as 100 usually spend the summer feeding here too. Humpbacks are present throughout the summer months and orcas are seen on rare occasions too.

Besides the great whales, a small number of sea otters are now being seen along this part of the coast too. Other marine highlights could include Steller’s sea lions, harbour seals and various sea birds including rhinoceros auklets and migrating tufted puffins. (Please note that sea here can be rough and choppy).

Includes No Meals.

Day 6
Telegraph Cove

Today drive (approx. 6-7 hours in total) across Vancouver Island to Telegraph Cove on the north east coast. Along the journey perhaps stop in the Cathedral Grove within the MacMillian Provincial Park to admire the splendour of the ancient (800-year-old) Douglas Fir trees, some reaching nearly 250 feet in height.
Perhaps stop for lunch in Campbell River before continuing north to the small coastal village of Telegraph Cove and your accommodation.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 7
Glendale Cove

Today rise early, to take an exciting (and potentially bumpy) boat ride through the wilds of remote and rugged Knight Inlet to the Glendale Cove. Enjoy a lunch on arrival in the cove, before exploring the cove via a flat-bottomed skiff for grizzly bears.

Glendale Cove supports one of the highest densities of grizzly bears in British Columbia due to its abundant and varied food sources available to the bears throughout the year. Here you can hopefully enjoy some good sightings of grizzly bears at eye level in their natural habitat. The bears feed on salmon in August and September and on protein rich sedges and crabs in May, June and July.

On the return trip you may spot black bears along the shoreline or encounter a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins or even a humpback whale.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes Lunch.

Day 8
Johnstone Strait

Today take a morning whale watching trip into Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound in search of its celebrated northern 'fish-eating' orcas (killer whales), humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Steller’s sea lions, harbour seals and birdlife.

Spend the afternoon exploring the local area or relaxing back at the lodge. Racoons, black bears, American martens, mink and black-tailed (mule) deer have all been spotted close to the lodge.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 9
Johnstone Strait

Today take a thrilling guided kayaking tour through the usually placid waters of Johnstone Strait. With its sheltered water and exciting marine life, the strait makes for an ideal location to enjoy a wildlife safari by kayak. Although sightings of orcas, humpback whales, porpoises and sea lions cannot be guaranteed, they are all very possible. This is a particularly unique and memorable way to experience the beauty of Johnstone Strait and any wildlife you do encounter. Return to the lodge in the evening.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 10
Vancouver

Today drive (approx. 1 hour) north to Port Hardy airport to first drop off your hire car. In the afternoon take a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight back to Vancouver. Met on arrival with a private transfer to your hotel in downtown Vancouver.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 11
Vancouver

Enjoy a day at leisure in Vancouver to relax or explore independently. Optional tours are available. Downtown Vancouver offers many attractions such as the fascinating Museum of Anthropology, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Gastown Markets and the Vancouver Lookout Tower. While a little further out of town are the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain Cable Car for wonderful vistas.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 12
Vancouver

Enjoy another full day at leisure in Vancouver to explore independently or book Optional tours locally or in advance.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 13
Vancouver

Take a private transfer back to Vancouver airport. Depart on your onward flight.

Includes No Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Canada Vancouver Island

Middle Beach Lodge

Overview

Spectacularly perched on 40 acres of secluded West Coast oceanfront, Middle Beach Lodge features almost a mile of quiet beach, rugged headlands, two magnificent lodges, and twenty rustic self-contained cabins. This tranquil, natural domain offers the perfect sanctuary for those seeking a quiet retreat to the wilderness. It is the perfect setting for enjoying the super natural beauty of British Columbia and for getting away from it all.

When designing the lodges and choosing the building sites, the owners were careful to cause minimum disturbance to the natural landscape. The first lodge to be built at Middle Beach – the Lodge at the Beach – features classic West Coast architecture in its use of heavy timbers and classic board and batten cedar siding. Warm comfortable sleeping accommodations are grouped around exquisite oceanfront lounges in a decor of rustic West Coast simplicity, all built using recycled wood from the local area. Two years later, construction begun upon the second lodge – the Lodge at the Headlands. Again, careful efforts in the construction planning has resulted in the lovely cabins sitting amongst virtually undisturbed natural scenery.

The first 26 rooms are part of the Lodge at the Beach. These include either upper or ground floor rooms, with forest or ocean views. Most of the rooms also have private balconies and one has a kitchenette area. The Lodge at the Headland comprises rooms 27-64, and has a more varied array or accommodations available, including upper and lower floor lodge rooms, suites and single or double individual cabins. All rooms come with either forest or ocean views, and the majority have balconies and kitchenettes as well as jacuzzi baths in the cabins.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
64
Facilities

The lodges have breakfast rooms, lounge areas and there is a dinner restaurant overlooking the ocean boasting wonderful sunset views. The many different room categories boast different facilities, but all have ensuite bathrooms with amenities, and modern comforts. Some categories offer kitchenettes, and cabins come with balconies and jacuzzi baths.

Local Wildlife

Several species of whales and bears can be spotted in the nearby areas surrounding the lodge, as well as a host of other wildlife.

Optional Activities

Many activities and excursions are available from the lodge. Stand up paddle boarding, beach yoga, SUP yoga, sea kayaking and surfing can be enjoyed from the lodge. Additionally, excursions to visit the nearby hot springs or attempt whale and bear watching can be organised. Alternatively, visit the nearby town of Tofino which ha a strong surf vibe and offers many culinary and cultural attractions.

Canada Vancouver Island

Hidden Cove Lodge

Overview

Nestled in the rainforests of Northern Vancouver Island, Hidden Cove Lodge is an ocean front, eco-friendly lodge, situated on the Johnstone Strait. The location will bring guests back to the heart of nature in some of Canada’s most spectacular natural landscapes. Disconnect from the world by escaping to this small off-the-grid paradise, where the wind, solar and generator powered lodge and ocean side cottages will leave guests feeling refreshed and relaxed, whilst also allowing you to experience the breath-taking scenery and enjoy some amazing wildlife encounters.

Whilst the lodge itself does not run wildlife viewing excursions, it works in close partnership with nearby tour companies to enable guests to fully experience the wondrous location. The lodge’s owners – Dan and Sandra Kirby – are extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and always are on hand to help organise excursions to suit individual’s wishes.

Rooming options include rooms in the Main Lodge (single, twin, queen or king configurations available), one-bedroom cottages for up to four people, and two-bedroom cottages capable of accommodating five guests. The cottages are fully self-contained, with either ocean or forest views, and include their own kitchen area and lounge, as well as an outdoor balcony with BBQ in the two-bedroom options.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Facilities

The lodge has a main lounge with fireplace, multiple other indoor and outdoor seating and viewing areas, binoculars, maps brochures and informative books for use by guests, a fully licensed dinnertime restaurant and bar (by reservation). Rooms have ensuite bathrooms with amenities, and all cottages are equipped with kitchen areas (including fridge, oven, microwave, toaster and coffee maker) s well as living rooms with propane fireplaces.

Local Wildlife

The area is well known for both its grizzly bear population, and its marine life including orcas and other whale species. Organise a wildlife excursion from the lodge and you will be bound to find an abundance of wildlife to entertain you.

Optional Activities

There are several hiking and nature walks in the vicinity, and knowledgeable hosts and owners who are happy to id in organising tours for guests. Tours (such as Tide Rip Grizzly Tours) can pick guests up directly from the lodge, and whale watching, or fishing trips are other marine options. Upon land, guests can visit several nearby First Nations cultural sites, Telegraph Cove or the Henschel fine arts gallery.

Canada Vancouver and the Salish Sea

Listel Hotel

Overview

The Listel hotel is in the heart of Downton Vancouver, making it a prime bae from which to explore this wonderful city. The hotel stands out from other in the area regarding its two main focuses: the arts and the environment. Having been dubbed by art critic as ‘Vancouver’s most art-full hotel’ and a ‘cultural tourists dream’, the owners’ emphasis upon showcasing local artistic talent is clear to see. There are stunning pieces throughout the hotel, and room classifications are organised by their artistic themes. Secondly, the hotel has received the five green keys rating – the highest eco rating for any Vancouver boutique property from The Hotel Association of Canada. Its eco-initiative – Environment Matters – includes solar panels, a state of the art heat capture program, water reduction measures and the impressive fact that the hotel has been 100% zero waste since 2011.

As well as its loyalties to local culture and the environment, the Listel is also committed to offering guests an interesting, comfortable and pleasurable place to stay. Guest rooms are all comfortable furnished and equipped with complete modern amenities. Rooming categories include second floor modern art floor rooms; museum floor rooms; gallery floor rooms; artist series suites and the British Columbia suite. The comfortable rooms all feature art work from both Canadian and international artists, and are themed by floor, offering a stylish and boutique atmosphere. There are also two fantastic on-site dining locations – Forage and Timber, although the hotel’s prime location means guests are within walking distance of many of Vancouver’s culinary attractions.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
129
Facilities

The hotel offers free Wi-Fi throughout, valet parking, business facilities, electric bicycles (available June-September), complimentary passes to the nearby gym, same day laundry and dry cleaning, daily wine receptions and dining in the two on site restaurants: Forage and Timber. Rooms are equipped with heating and air con, safes, bath robes and bathroom amenities, desk area, television, iron and board, daily newspaper upon request and coffee makers.

Optional Activities

Hotel guests receive complimentary passes to the nearby gym, and electric bikes re available for use by guests. Additionally, there is a vast selection of attractions in the vicinity, including shopping, galleries, parks, beaches, and Vancouver Aquarium. Hotel staff are more than happy to advise you upon how to best spend your time in this vibrant city.

Route Map

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Listel Hotel: 49.287095, -123.129296
Hidden Cove Lodge: 50.551295, -126.859840
Middle Beach Lodge: 49.134556, -125.905846

Departure Dates

This tour has no set departure date and can be tailored to suit your travel requirements. Contact us for more details.

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Direct flight options from the UK to Vancouver include British Airways, Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat.

Best Visited:

June to September

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965