10 days on Vancouver Island : an itinerary


We took the road towards Nanaimo and Port Hardy taking our time. Going through the same landscapes another time was wonderful. Sometimes I appreciate being able to stop and stare instead of focusing on taking pictures.

We went back to Sproat Lake to take a shower. Vanlifers, be warned that this is an amazing spot to take warm showers for free. The restrooms are clean and safe and a life saver!

After that, we took a break around Cathedral Grove. The area was closed because of the pandemic. We were disappointed, mostly because this is a staple on the road to/from Tofino. But it was out of our control and we were lucky enough to be able to park not too far from it and explore another small trail with huge trees.

We made a second stop at Wally Creek (our super secret dreamy spot we found when we first drove towards Tofino) and slept there. This time we actually spent the whole afternoon frolicking in the cold water and taking advantage of the hot summer day before sharing dinner on the rocks and roasting marshmallows.


From Tofino to Port Hardy, the drive is usually 6 hours. This is why we took our time. The second day on the road, we stopped along the pretty Campbell River and hiked Elk Falls Provincial Park. The area is beloved for its fishing opportunities and camping facilities. We took one of their most heavily trafficked forest trail towards the infamous Elk Falls. The millenium trail takes you along shaded paths around the falls as well as towards a suspension bridge. It’s an easy trail so it gets quite busy. Nola also HATED the path towards the metal suspension bridge but it was a lot of fun!

DAY 8 (Aug, 7th) : PORT HARDY

Once we had reached Port Hardy, we took our time to walk along the beach, observing bald eagles and seal having fun and fishing in the water. After a peaceful moment taking in the view, we grabbed breakfast at a local delicious spot : Café Guido. Lovely coffees, Nanaimo bars and breakfast sandwiches. Similar to Tofino or Ucluelet or Prince Rupert, Port Hardy has this “fishing town” atmosphere we really love.

We then spent the afternoon booking a tour for the following day in Port McMcNeill. Once that was done, we headed to an estuary deeper in the island where we were lucky (AGAIN) to see a mind-blowing sunset. During that sunset, we could hear bald eagles fishing as well as see a few sea otters exploring the waters.

DAY 9 (Aug, 8th) : PORT MCNEILL

I don’t think Port McNeill is more interesting than Port Hardy. However this is where most tours will leave from. We slept onsite the day before because our full day tour departed around 6:30am. We took a tour with Sea Wolf Adventures, a First Nations owned business I could not recommend more. The tour was extremely high quality, from the material (the boat they use, their rain gear, their binoculars etc) to their tour guides (Sherry and Steven were fantastic), but also the food they serve on board and their incredible dedication to showing wildlife without being invasive or disrespectful of their natural habitat.

The tour is called “Grizzlis in the wild” and unfortunately we did not see any grizzlis. BUT, we were able to see orcas, whales, eagles, dolphins and a black bear. It was an incredible experience and I would do it all over again if I could. The tour is on the expensive side ($500 CAD per person) but it is well worth every penny. You’ll not only learn about wildlife but you’ll also learn about their beloved First Nations culture.

This is the third time we see whales with Bobby (one time in Hawaii you can check here and the tour we took in Victoria) and it never ever disappoints to see these beauties in their home.

DAY 10 (Aug, 9th) : HEAD TO NANAIMO

Head back to Nanaimo, taking a few stops in Telegraph Cove and Fanny’s bay. Once you reach Nanaimo, explore the old downtown and spend the evening staring at one last island sunset at the harbour. We were not able to explore downtown on our side because my camera had died the day before during our tour and I had to go and buy a new one ;).

You could catch a ferry that same night or do like we did and wait for the following morning :).

DAY 11 (Aug, 10th) : Take the ferry back to Vancouver

Enjoy the views on the coast as you head back to Vancity!

I will conclude this article by letting you know I deeply believe 10 days on the island is the minimum you should do. If you spend less time, you will still be able to see wonderful things but to me, this island is best discovered when taking your time to see everything it has to offer. Each coast has a different taste and atmosphere and each one is worth seeing.



COPYRIGHT: All pictures belong to Fanny Cohen Sanchez, @fannychn on Instagram, Three Times Nine 2021.

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  1. What an incredible place and beautiful photos – I can’t wait to visit Canada (let’s hope restrictions ease soon) but thank you for sharing your adventures from such a gorgeous place. I can’t wait to see more of your trips.
    If you’re interested in African travel at all, check out my site where I’ll be sharing adventures and photos from across Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam, thanks so much for passing by on the blog. So happy you liked the article and the photos. I wish you to go to Canada very soon and for us to go back too haha! I’ll go check out your blog, sounds like a wonrdeful adventure you’re on.

      Liked by 1 person

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