Vancouver Island is approximately a two hour ferry ride from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen Bay Ferry Terminals. The island is a children’s paradise as there is an endless amount of activities and attractions that will keep the kids entertained and interested – whether they are searching for sea treasures on one of the beaches, eating blackberries off the bushes, swimming at secret swimming holes, checking out the aquariums, hiking amongst the giant trees in the old growth forests or out on the ocean looking for whales, dolphins and other marine life.
Here are six of my children’s favourite adventure spots on the island.
UPDATE – The Wacky Woods – PERMANENTLY CLOSED
The brainchild of a renowned artist George Sawchuk, you likely won’t find this place on a map or a tourist guide as it is located literally “off the beaten path”. There is no one word to describe it as it is fun, quirky, enchanted, creative and unique. The kids will have a fun time wandering the whimsical forest – my daughter says it makes her feel like “Alice in wonderland”. There are brightly painted rocks, “secret messages” carved into wooden books in old Douglas fir trees, mirrored globes and many other fascinating installations made out of recycled objects. I recommend wearing your rubber boots for this adventure as the forest can often be muddy. The main trail to get to the “wacky woods” is located near the Fanny Bay community centre on the east coast of Vancouver Island off the Old Island Highway.
Elk Falls Suspension Bridge
The Elk Falls Suspension Bridge floats 60 feet above the salmon filled waters of the Campbell River Canyon. This 64 metre long suspension bridge provides a breathtaking and bird’s eye view of the Elk Falls and the canyon. Being surrounded by the roaring waterfalls, huge boulders and old growth forests will provide both kids and adults with that picture perfect west coast experience. The trailhead is easily accessible and located on Highway 28 at the entrance to Elk Falls Provincial Park, followed by easy, kid-friendly hike that connects you to a series of stairways that lead to the bridge. For directions and more info visit: https://gocampbellriver.com.
The Discovery Pier and Aquarium
Campbell River is a beautiful coastal city located on the east coast of Vancouver Island set alongside the ocean surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. It’s well known as being “the salmon capital of the world”. The Discovery Pier is Canada’s first salt water fishing pier, it is 600 feet in length and is open 24 hours a day. Apart from fishing, it is also the most perfect spot to watch for sea lions, dolphins, eagles as well as cruise ships and whales as they make their way through the Discovery Passage. In my children’s opinion, it is also the best place to go for an ocean-side ice cream date in waffle cones.
Located on 665 Island Highway. Visit: www.campbellriver.travel for more information.
Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, BC
The Wild Pacific Trail is located in the beautiful community of Ucluelet, 40 km outside of Tofino, along the breathtaking and wild coastline of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for a family-friendly hike on a well maintained trail while also being able to experience the wild and rugged beauty of the west coast, I recommend the Lighthouse Loop on this trail. As a part of the Wild Pacific Trail, the lighthouse loop trail is a 2.6 km trail that offers plenty of amazing experiences for families and access points to two small beaches. Kids and adults will love visiting the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse (an active lighthouse) and listening to the fog horn, watching the massive waves crash onto the rocks (this trail is a perfect place for storm watching), looking out on the rocks below for harbour seals and sea otters, and if you’re lucky, you might spot whales out on the ocean. I recommend wearing comfortable running shoes or hiking boots for this trail. For directions and more info, visit: tofinohiatus.com.
Take a boat ride to April Point on Quadra Island
April Point is located on Quadra Island and is a free 10 minute water taxi ride away from its sister resort Painter’s Lodge on Vancouver Island. The boat ride itself is very scenic with beautiful views of the ocean and mountains surrounding the islands. Whenever we are on the island, we often take the boat ride across to Quadra Island with our children for a lunch or dinner date, and a walk around the beautiful resort. The wild life is abundant in this area – eagles, colourful sea urchins, seals, fish, sea otters, and if it’s your lucky day, you might see a pod of whales passing by. The resort offers plenty of adventure tours as well as tandem kayak and bicycle rentals to explore the rest of the Quadra Island with your family.
Address: 1625 McDonald Rd, Campbell River. Call (250)285-2222 for water taxi schedule.
Miracle Beach Provincial Park
Miracle Beach is an awesome area for kids of any age, which makes it a perfect holiday destination for families. A short walk through the trail leads to a wide sandy beach for the kids to be free and enjoy activities such as – swimming in the ocean, building sand castles, looking for sea treasures such as sand dollars and sea shells, exploring the tide pools, beach fires. Kids will also enjoy a visit to the Miracle Beach Nature House located near the parking lot, with plenty of displays about the history and animals on the island as well as interpretive programs for kids in the summer months. I recommend going at low tide and don’t forget your bathing suits, buckets and a beach blanket for a picnic. Located 22 km north of Courtenay, BC off the highway 19A, Oceanside route.
Written by Jatinder Kaur
Jatinder Kaur lives in the beautiful city of Edmonton with her husband and their two children, ages 8 and 4. She is passionate about travelling, photography, and the outdoors. She loves to travel and is raising two biracial and bilingual kids with the goal to expose to them to different cultures and raise them to be tolerant and respectful adults.