Evidently, March isn’t supposed to be the best time of year to visit Vancouver Island — at least that’s what we were told. When we mentioned we were going to spend a week there some friends asked; “why”. Well here’s why; We’ve never been there, we wanted to experience something new, and we wanted to see an epic Vancouver Island sunset or two. Okay, that last one would have been an added bonus, but after the $hittiest winter Vancouver has endured, Mr. Sun followed us around the island and provided a few spectacles of spectacular proportions!
For ease of reading, I’m going to break down our fun journey by day, recapping the first three in Ucluelet as well.
Took ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay then drove to Ucluelet (the other side of the island). Got to hotel mid afternoon, sat on a bench overlooking Pacific Ocean for an hour just watching waves crash against the rocks. Our version of stopping to smell the roses I guess! Made a nice dinner, saw some pretty cool storms come in off the ocean that dumped some sort of rain/hail/sleet nonsense, then moved on.
Drove into Tofino for the day — nothing to see here folks, just another Canadian waterfront tourist destination complete with pharmacies selling all things beach and/or water-related, from Noodles to boards to sunscreen, cheap-o sunnies and crap-tacular Inukshuk trinkets. Debated renting some surf gear. Opted to pass on the freezing cold water testy-test and strolled the numerous beaches instead. Caught epic Vancouver Island sunset #1 in Ucluelet:
Went for a hike, saw whales, saw birds, peed in the woods, got wind burn, saw more whales, no epic Vancouver Island sunsets on this day 🙁
Drove from Ucluelet back over to Parksville on the leeward side of the island. Visited the Old Country Market to get a glimpse of the goats on the roof because that’s what you’re supposed to do I guess! Didn’t see goats…minimally disappointed. Didn’t buy anything at this tourist trap…maximally content.
Visited a water circuit — the sole reason we wanted to stay in the Parksville area (actually we wanted to stay in Courtenay but our booking through BC Ferries Vacations didn’t offer anything in Courtenay). Anywho, back to the circuit. We love water therapy of all shapes, sizes, and experiences. We’ve created our own make-shift circuit, float in sensory deprivation chambers regularly, and even tried a Hammam spa as well.
This water circuit was a unique circuit for sure, but not our favourite. It seemed contrived and could have been more authentic, and also more private. We were under the impression we’d have the “grotto” to ourselves and would be “escorted” to each “station”, but neither were the case. But nonetheless we came out relaxed.
Also visited a super-cool distillery afterwards because…it was there. Googled “Things to do in Courtenay” and the Wayward Distillation House came up (at least at did for us). They specialize in flavour infused vodkas and gins. I’m not a big vodka or gin guy, but Shelly was in heaven. Gotta love what distilleries and craft breweries are doing these days. I had no idea vodka could taste different than rubbing alcohol! Got the grand tour of their small but growing operation, complete with samples!
Epic Vancouver Island Sunset #2 also occurred on this event-filled Wednesday. Due to Parksville’s shallow shoreline you’re able to walk out quite far come low-tide to snag some pretty decent pics. I can see why this town is a tourist draw. A great sunset offers up some amazing views of the Georgia Straight, the coastal mountains, and with the sun already set, you’ll see the clouds turn a unique colour of grellow (grey-yellow), but then become gorange, then grink, then gurple, and mixing between all the above until dusk. I could watch sunsets like this every night.
KICK-A$$ EXPERIENCE CAVING ON THURSDAY! IT WAS SO EPIC THAT NOT ONLY AM I YELLING, IT HAS IT’S OWN POST! WOW, THAT’S SOME SERIOUS GOODNESS, RIGHT?!
Also stopped at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks Farm to sample cheese, fruit wine, and take pictures of baby goats because goats are cute. Also caved and bought a brick of cheese. Get it…we caved…after we went caving…Oh shut up that was clever.
Off to Victoria, walked around a castle that some guy started building but died before he could enjoy the fruits of his labour. Shelly loves visiting these type of things and soaks up the history of who they were, what they did, where supplies came from and for how much, and what happened to the building after the original tenants left.
Also enjoyed the sunshine, walked around town, and participated in a Canadian ritual of beers on a patio in March. Because March + Sun + Canada = Patio + Beer. A few hours later we picked up some food and got to watch this system sweep by from our hotel room for Epic Vancouver Island sunset #3.
Ventured out for the “scenic drive” around Victoria in our Versa vehicle, and stopped to admire some vistas, views and vantage points…nothing overly spectacular during the day though, likely would have been better at sunrise, or better yet dusk for another epic Vancouver Island sunset (based on Mr. Sun’s availability of course).
Oh, almost forgot. This was Earth Day, and the only building that seemed to participate (moderately) was BC’s parliament buildings. I ran down shortly after 8 PM to snag some quick pics of it when lit up. I got a few with it lit, then as I looked both ways to cross the street, the lights went off for Earth day. I knew it was Earth Day, and I wish the Aussies understood that, while the intentions of Earth Day are great, when you live in a warm climate and can go outside and enjoy the weather — that’s not always so easy to do here in Canadaland. We Canadians should opt for a June or Summer Solstice Earth Day. Anyway, they turned off the lights at Parliament, but not all. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
Had to catch an 11 AM ferry, and wouldn’t you know it, rained all morning, afternoon, and night. Oh well, can’t complain when we got not one Vancouver Island sunset, but three amazing Vancouver Island sunsets to enjoy!
Now go sell all your stuff and enjoy an epic Vancouver Island sunset (or just a sunset where you are)!