NORTH AMERICA’s second largest island is found in the province of British Columbia, Canada, and is a short ferry ride from Seattle and Vancouver, or accessed by plane through the city of Victoria. Vancouver Island is where you’ll find year-round activities like surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, bungee jumping, skiing, hiking, fishing and more. This accessible and often overlooked place is a big island with big waves, big trees, and endless adventures.

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Check out the trees in Avatar Grove.

Avatar Grove, otherwise known to the local First Nation peoples as 'T ‘ L ‘ O Q WXWAT' is one of North America's last remaining old-growth rainforests. This hike is a short drive from the small town of Port Renfrew on the southwestern tip of Vancouver Island. Recently, local organizations and volunteers have banded together to build a boardwalk through the forest to protect the tree roots from hiking and erosion, and to make the area more accessible. By making it easier for the public to experience, more awareness is brought upon this unprotected area and creates greater cause for the government to establish it as a park or forest reserve.

2

adventures Vancouver Island

Two sections of forest are in the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation and both tell a different multi-century story of what the entire island once looked like. Dense, often dripping forest is accompanied by ferns, freshwater streams, bald eagles and other birds calling the canopy home. Avatar Grove is home to Canada's 'gnarliest tree' which is a huge, twisted and knotted douglas fir, as well as the world's largest cedar. Each section of Avatar Grove is situated on either side of the road and comprised of Sitka spruce, douglas fir, and red cedars ranging from 500 to 1,000 years old.

3

Look for Salmons in Gordon River near Avatar Grove.

If you venture off the Avatar Grove boardwalk down the hill towards the sounds of moving water, you'll come to Gordon River. In the late summer/early fall, this river is home to hundreds of spawning salmon rushing to lay eggs. If they make it to their destination before getting caught by a predator, they'll spawn their eggs in the gravel beds of freshwater streams and lakes. Each salmon returns to the location they were born to complete their lifecycle and then shortly after spawning, they die in the freshwater near where they spawned. How these fish can remember where to return to spawn their young after living many years in the ocean still remains a mystery to scientists.

4

Chase waterfalls at Sandcut Beach.

Located along the drive from Victoria to Port Renfrew is Sandcut Beach. Looking west you’ll see Washington State and behind you, two flowing waterfalls pouring onto the beach. One of the many great things about Vancouver Island is the abundance of freshwater and like all water, it eventually ends up in the ocean. Snap some photos, take an au natural shower, or enjoy the sunset next to this beachfront waterfall.

5

Bungee jump at WildPlay Nanaimo.

WildPlay Elements Nanaimo is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway near the city of Nanaimo. The park contains 19 ziplines, 67 aerial games, 40ft jump, 150ft bungee jump, and a 150ft giant swing. Daredevils can request for the bungee cord to be just long enough to get their heads submerged in the Nanaimo River below. WildPlay is open year-round and is an ideal family-friendly stop en route to Tofino from southern Vancouver Island.

6

Surf in Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Home to some of the best cold-water surfing in the world, Tofino is renowned for its small town charm, rugged landscapes, big waves, and storm watching. The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve covers most of the peninsula’s coastline and is where you’ll find the best surf beaches and numerous hiking trails through the lush temperate rainforest. The best surfing is done in the winter months, but don’t be discouraged by the cold -- the water temperatures in this part of the Pacific only fluctuate a few degrees from summer to winter. Uncrowded waters and consistent waves make those first couple minutes of warming the wetsuit water between your skin worth every shiver.

7

Enjoy the sunset in Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Golden sunsets can be rare in this part of Canada -- much of the winter sees rainy and windy days which is totally okay -- storm watching is a thing here, and it draws tourists in from far and near. During the winter storm months, travelers come to experience the sheer power of nature as it batters the Canadian coastline. If you are lucky enough to get a picture-perfect sunset, take it in knowing you’re watching it from one of the most western points in Canada.

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adventures Vancouver Island

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve spans a great area of the west coast of Vancouver Island starting near Tofino all the way down the coastline to Port Renfrew. In the middle sits an expanse of ocean dotted with 100 small arborous islands full with marine and land diversity. This area is popular among kayakers, canoers, and scuba divers with designated camping on seven islands. The islands are made up of rocky coastline with white sand beaches, passing whales, porpoises, sixgill sharks, and harbor seals. Come low tide, explore hundreds of tidal pools and expect to find oyster beds and rocks covered in black mussels. From Ucluelet, take a scenic flight, boat ride, or kayak through the scattered islands.

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