Located in Brittish Columbia, Vancouver Island is an iconic place near Vancouver. It is famous for its scenic landscapes and its culture. It would sound perfect to head there for a day right? Well, is it possible? Can you do Vancouver Island in one day?

No, you cannot do Vancouver Island in one day. Vancouver Island is 31,285 km²-wide -the size of Belgium or Taïwan- and visiting it in one day is impossible. Indeed, it takes 6 hours to drive from one point of the island to the other.

Why can’t you do Vancouver Island in one day?

If you are not convinced by this quick introduction, make sure to keep reading. Indeed, it is not because a place is huge that you can’t visit it quickly. If you are only interested in cities, then maybe it could deal, right? Well, not really. So, why can’t you do Vancouver Island in one day?

There are 3 reasons why you can’t do Vancouver Island in one day: the size, the number of places to see, and the transportation to the island. Vancouver Island is the 11th largest island in Canada and visiting Victoria -the main city on the island- takes at least a day! Also, the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria already takes 2 hours of your time minimum. So it would not be reasonable to stay only a day

The size

The issue with Vancouver Island is the word “island”. This is a misleading word. Indeed, we could also say that Australia is an island. Can we visit Australia in one day tho? No. Well, it is the same for Vancouver Island, at a smaller scale.

forest and waterfall at daytime photo in vancouver island
The kind of landscapes you can see on Vancouver Island. Credits to Mathijs Deerenberg

To have an idea of the size of the island, we can compare it to some other places. What do you think we can compare this huge island to? Big cities? The U.S States? Countries? If you choose the latter, you are right. We won’t compare Vancouver to Australia don’t worry! However, we can safely compare Vancouver Island to Belgium or Taïwan.

This is what Tristin Hopper and Cameron Welch did in their brilliant article What Vancouver Island Would Look Like As An Independent Country They compared every piece of data of the island to the same one from another country. For instance, they also mentioned that, if Vancouver Island was an independent country, it would “have about as many people as Bhutan“. You can check it out it’s really funny and it delivers great information in an original way.

If you want to have fun comparing this island’s size on your own, you can also use the Map Fight website, on which you can choose two different areas and compare their size.

Pieces of data about the island

Area31,285 km2 (12,079 sq mi)
The exact area of Vancouver Island. Source : Wikipedia/Vancouver_Island/

It is also interesting to note that this place is not only wide. Indeed, it is also very mountainous. If you are wondering “What’s the highest point on Vancouver Island?”, you may be surprised by the answer.

The highest elevation point on Vancouver Island is Golden Hinde, standing at 2,195 meters above sea level. This mountain is located right in the middle of the island.

Highest elevation2,195 m (7201 ft)
The highest elevation point on Vancouver Island is Golden Hinde, standing at 2,195 meters above sea level. Source : Wikipedia/Vancouver_Island/

Compared to other islands, this one has nothing to envy to them. Indeed, Vancouver Island is the world’s 43rd largest islandCanada’s 11th largest island, and Canada’s second-most populous island after the Island of Montreal.

RankIsland’s nameArea (km²)Permanent population (2016)
1Baffin Island507,45113,148
2Victoria Island217,2912,162
3Ellesmere Island196,236191
4Newfoundland108,860492,519
5Banks Island70,028113
6Devon Island55,2470
7Axel Heiberg Island43,1780
8Melville Island42,1490
9Southampton Island41,214891
10Prince of Wales Island33,3390
11Vancouver Island31,285813,543
From Wikipedia

The number of things to do

It is also unrealistic to visit the island in one day because there are lots of things to do. So, it is not only because it takes 6 hours to drive from one point of the island to the other, it is also because rushing this island is a shame.

First, this place is known for its scenic landscapes. From forests to beaches and mountains, there are lots of places to discover on this island. For instance, take a look at the following picture.

mossy tree under clear sky photo in vancouver island
Cathedral Grove. Credits to Faye Cornish

This is Cathedral Grove, one of the places to visit if you plan on going to this island. To convince you, here is what The Official British Columbia Parks website says about Cathedral Grove.

Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas fir trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world – some more than 800 years old.

Source : The Official British Columbia Parks website

In fact, according to PhenomenalGlobe.com, there are at least 40 things to do on Vancouver Island. Taking a free tour of the Parliament House Buildings is also an idea that this article suggests. Indeed, Victoria is a great place to start your trip. This is the city where you will probably arrive if you take the ferry in Vancouver. Victoria itself takes at least a day to visit.

grey concrete building under cloudy sky photo
Parliament House, Government Street, Victoria, BC, Canada. Credits to Parsa Mivehchi

How many days to visit Vancouver Island?

So, if it is impossible to visit this island in one day, how long should I stay here? Well, it depends on several points that I will explain. So, how many days to visit Vancouver Island?

It takes at least 5 days to visit Vancouver Island in order to discover both its culture and its landscapes. This does not include the days when you will take the ferry.

This is what Noah from Noahvde does in the following video.

Credits to Nohavde

In this travel guide, Noah visits Vancouver Island in 5 full-days. It is important to note that he has already been there and that he knows the island. Maybe considering a day to wander in the areas you love the most is a good plan.

How should you visit this island?

The easiest way to do such things is to visit Vancouver Island by RV. This is also a great plan because camping is allowed on some parts of the island. For instance, on Sombio Beach, you can camp directly on the sand. This is a great opportunity a soothing sunset before sleeping.

red tent on a beach shore during daytime photo
Sombrio Beach is a place to camp directly on the beach. Credits to Jasper Garratt

If you take the ferry trip into account and what I just mentioned, you should consider adding a day in.

Finally, to give you more ideas of places to travel on this island, here is another guide from Expedia. This is not really a travel guide because it does not give you how long you should stay at every stop. But it is a good video to get inspiration and to have an idea of the best places to see.

If you are fond of islands, maybe you can also check out the other articles I wrote about islands. I wrote one about Bali, on the topic “Why is Bali so cheap?“. This is a great guide for digital nomads who would want to travel there. I also wrote an article about Madeira. The jagged cliffs of Madeira have some common points with the ones on Vancouver Island, so you should check them out!

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