Frequently Asked Questions About Vancouver Island North

There are endless treasures to discover here on Vancouver Island North. It’s a place of big skies, spectacular wildlife, stunning coastal vistas, boreal forests and in every community down to earth friendly locals. Planning a trip can be a bit overwhelming so here’s a head start with some of the most frequently asked questions.

Steven Fines photo

Q: What is the weather like there?

A: Vancouver Island has one of the mildest climates in Canada. Even in January the temperature is usually above 0°C or 32°F. Geographically diverse with snow-capped mountains and temperate rainforest, dressing in layers is always best. It’s possible to experience more than one season in a day with rain showers followed by glorious sunshine and cooler temperatures when the sun goes down. And in case you’re wondering no, we don’t know what time the fog will lift. What about forest fires in the summer? There was a small amount of smoke on the North Island last year during fire season but rest assured the air quality was still very good.

Q: What wildlife will I see?

A: Vancouver Island North is a place where wild things roam. Watch for black bears munching grass on the side of the road and bald eagles soar overhead as they hunt for fish. Birdwatchers will be surrounded by a plethora of sea and land birds. From shore or on a guided wildlife tour spot resident orcas or humpback whales. Other wildlife that makes Vancouver Island North their home include: Roosevelt Elk, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and otters.

Ryan Dickie photo

Q: Where can we hike?

A: Probably one of the most asked questions and the simple answer is there are oodles of opportunities in every community. From a leisurely stroll along oceanfront boardwalks, adventures through mystical forests, or epic multi-hour or multi-day hiking in Cape Scott Provincial Park there are trails for all abilities. Download the free North Island Trail Guide app which lists the locations, length and difficulty of each trail along with safety tips.

Q: Can we visit Sointula and Alert Bay in one day?

A: Yes, absolutely. BC Ferries offers half a dozen regularly scheduled runs for foot passengers and vehicles from Port McNeill to Sointula and Alert Bay. There is ample parking near the ferry terminal in Port McNeill if you decide to leave the vehicle behind. Alert Bay on Cormorant Island is the smaller of the two islands and easily accessible on foot. Or grab a cab to travel from one end of the island to the other. The village of Sointula on much larger Malcolm Island can also be explored on foot or borrow a “green bike” at the Sointula Resource Centre to experience the island and its Finnish history.

Q: What about road conditions?

A: Highway 19 is a paved and well maintained super scenic highway from Campbell River to Port Hardy. For up to date information about road conditions on Hwy 19 visit Drive BC. Secondary roads to many communities are also paved but the some roads like the one leading to San Josef Bay and the Cape Scott Trail are gravel roads shared with logging traffic. For more visit Western Forest Products WFP Road Information page or stop in at their office in Holberg and the staff will radio ahead for you.

Q: How do I get there?

A: By air there are daily scheduled flights between Vancouver and Port Hardy with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Traveling by road Highway 19 connects Vancouver Island North communities to Campbell River and points south. Also known as the North Island Route Hwy 19 will transport you through majestic mountains and lush forest with possibilities for wildlife sightings. By water BC Ferries provides regular ferry service from Vancouver to Victoria and Nanaimo or consider cruising the Inside Passage voyage from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy.

To find out more browse through the Vancouver Island North website, a portal for information about accommodation, trails, tours, things to see and do. Get the free Vancouver Island Visitor’s Guide and the Vancouver Island North Recreation Map.

Why do tourists visit and revisit Vancouver Island North? To be wowed by nature, for the adrenaline of outdoor adventure. Make your own discoveries at every turn. There are amazing things to do anytime of the year on Vancouver Island North

Karen Stewart – Freelance Writer
Karen is the author of the blogs This is Port McNeill and At Water’s Edge Ventures

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