If you seriously want to get away from it all, go camping on Vancouver Island.
The Island feels feels worlds away from the built-up high rises of Vancouver, and the word “Toronto” doesn’t even register here. “Island time” is real, which means life happens at a different pace here. Expect that double-shot-half-hot-no-that’s-too-hot-venti latte five minutes ago? Too bad. You’ll get it when you get it, but it’ll be steamed and poured with love.
Tourists and locals love the island for the natural beauty, and if you want to feel even more at one with the nature that blankets this 32,000-square-kilometre island, pitch a tent (or, you know, pull up in your van like we did) and turn one of these stunning camping spots on Vancouver Island into your temporary home.
Living Forest Oceanside Campground, Nanaimo
Arriving at the Living Forest Oceanside Campground is impressive in itself; large fir and cedar trees greet you at the gates, and sway side-to-side like a soft wave. The staff in the office are delightful. The sites–there are 300 of them spread out over 53-acres, so it doesn’t feel tight–range from secluded spots in the forest, to RV spaces that are close together for groups. But the most epic area of the park is next to the water. Take a hike around one of the grounds’ many trails, and then watch the sunset over Nanaimo from the comfort of your tent/van/camper. Tin cup full of hot chocolate: Baileys optional, but encouraged.
Bella Pacifica Campground, Tofino
Bella Pacifica Campground is somewhat of a hidden gem, which is a good thing. Just don’t expect any flashy signs off the highway. The property offers oceanfront spots (and reasonable rates during offseason) as well as nooks that are nestled above the water amongst the trees, some with sea views. We opted for seaside camping, which means waking up and falling asleep to the waves lapping against the shore. Mother Nature actually threw a temper tantrum while we were there, driving rain and hellish winds down on the island. We backed into our seaside spot, popped open the back door, reversed the couch, and watched her do her worst. Talk about a magic moment.
With these spots, the beach becomes your front yard, with all the bull kelp you could ever possibly want to poke with a stick.
Keep in mind, the washrooms are modest, and the showers take toonies. The property itself is just three-kilometres outside of Tofino’s city centre, and there are well-kept bike trail that guide you in and out of town, so you can ride in for a coffee and a stroll, and on your way back, pop into the Tofino Brewing Company for a sample pint, and bike home. Best day ever? Sound legit.
Miracle Beach Provincial Park, Black Creek
If you’re making the drive to the northern part of the island, make Miracle Beach Provincial Park a stop, and thank us later. Conveniently located between Courtenay and Campbell River on the eastern side, the showers are hot, the fishing is plentiful, and yes, the seaside vistas are stellar. The only downside? No power hookups. So if you’re in an RV, move along, friend.