Vancouver Island, British Columbia
If you could sum up our area in one sentence it would probably be, “It’s a place of outdoor experiences and rich culture, stretching from the alpine peaks to the blue waters of the ocean.” The valley itself is a large area of untold beauty that is located on the central east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Our bike tours explore the back roads of the Comox Valley, Denman Island, Quadra Island and Campbell River. Because of its wide and diverse area, there is so much to see and do here. You can literally go skiing in the morning, and sailing in the afternoon.
Vancouver Island, the largest island on the Pacific coast of North America, is situated opposite the mainland of British Columbia. Vancouver Island is approximately 300 miles long and varies from 40 to 80 miles wide. You can reach Vancouver Island by a network of provincial ferries that arrive in either Victoria or Nanaimo. Most cities on Vancouver Island have their own airport with quite a few being recognized as international destinations.
Our corner of Vancouver Island abounds with amazing things to do – that’s why we live here. The Comox Valley and Campbell River feature many of the amenities of larger cities without sacrificing friendly small-town character. The areas have grown into multi-faceted travel destinations, bounded by water and mountains, surrounded by wilderness, and blessed with mild weather. Legendary salmon fishing, freshwater fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, skiing and golf are just a few of the activities available in and around the cities. Arts and culture are part of the scene, along with shopping, and there is a wide array of business services to complete the picture.
Forty minutes north of Campbell River is the Sayward Valley, which hugs the banks of the Salmon River. This beautiful and sparsely populated area provides a great stopping place on your way to exploring points north. Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Telegraph Cove, all synonymous with whale watching, are some of many small communities located in the northern reaches of Vancouver Island. On the northern-most tip of the island is the extremely rugged Cape Scott Trail to the west coast, where you can see evidence of the hardships some of our earliest settlers endured.
Back on Highway #19, heading north from Nanaimo, you pass through the relaxed east coast communities of Qualicum Beach and Parksville, havens for retirees and families alike. With its temperate, sunny climate this area is known as the 'banana belt' of Vancouver Island, and the endless sandy beaches, golf courses and shopping make it a premier holiday spot.
Picturesque lakes peek out from between the mighty Douglas Firs that line the highway as you continue along this winding serpentine trail to the coast. The raw beauty of Long Beach, found near Tofino on Vancouver Island, leaves all who visit it breathless. Surfing is world class here and the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet find themselves playing host to adventure lovers of all types.
Going north from Nanaimo to Campbell River you have a choice of two highways to travel. The Vancouver Island Oceanside Highway follows the coastline of Vancouver Island and affords you breath-taking views of small islands dotting the deep blue waters of Georgia Strait and of the Coastal Mountain range as you pass through quaint seaside towns. The other route is a high- speed four-lane highway that cuts a swath through the centre of Vancouver Island. Just north of Nanaimo, Highway #4 takes you west to the rugged communities of Tofino, Ucluelet and Port Alberni. You will pass through stands of enormous virgin timber in MacMillan Park, commonly known as Cathedral Grove. Island Joy Rides does its best to avoid all these highways by finding the quiet, scenic route.
A relaxing drive north of Victoria offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Georgia and its myriad islands. From Duncan to the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo to Telegraph Cove there is a patchwork of serene rural areas, majestic coastline and the bustling city of Nanaimo. Lumbering, sawmills, pulp manufacturing and specialized farming support the growing population of Vancouver Island.
The largest city and provincial capital of British Columbia is Victoria, situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island about a three hour drive south of Campbell River. The world-renowned Butchart Gardens began as a hobby in 1904 and is a must-see for any visitor to Victoria. The British Columbia Provincial museum is situated in Victoria and is a source of pride to all British Columbians. The Empress Hotel and Craigdarroch Castle are just part of the quaint Victorian atmosphere found in architecture, shops and gardens.
Come prepared for a great time! There really is something for everyone on Vancouver Island.