The ride “Whistler - Picific Rim National Park” (300 km / 186mi) on the other side of Vancouver Island was made by taking the ferry with BC Ferries to Vancouver Island, another long day. Horseshoe Bay is not far from Whistler, but I had read that the exit to the terminal would be rather unclear. We did not have to hurry that morning (day 15) and left around 10 am We had wifi at this campsite and I was able to send a message with some pictures to the home front. It was a smooth ride to the ferry in Horseshoebay. The app “Here WeGo"Indicated the correct turn.
BC Ferries to Vancouver Island - Ferry
At the checkout we gave away our booking form that we had printed ourselves after the online reservation. The employee gave us a number that we had to follow with the camper. The propane tank of the RV had to be closed and a sticker had to be stuck to it. The refrigerator is then off, so do not forget to connect your propane tank again after the transfer. That is all pretty easy once you know the buttons. The price for the ferry (only) with our 25 feet long camper was 148 $ CAD. You can book at BC Ferries here .
The whole procedure went pretty smoothly and before we knew it, we were waiting on the deck full of excitement until we left. Even though Vancouver Island is still British Columbia, for us it felt like a new chapter, which we started.
Search for whales
The sea was fairly calm, so we had a stable boat trip. We didn't feel it. There was a lot of wind. Sometimes you can see whales on the crossing to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) and Jessica immediately went looking for a jumping whale or at least a piece of tail. On the entire boat trip of 1h40 with BC Ferries to Vancouver Island she has not seen a single whale or dolphin. We knew a lot that we were in a few days day trip from Campbell River, we saw so many whales that we couldn't even count them on 2 hands. Before we knew it we arrived in Nanaimo Bay on Vancouver Island.
At first sight a beautiful bay on the south coast of Vancouver Island. I had a feeling in advance that this island was going to be more my thing. You could tell by the shape of the rocks and the coast. It reminded me a bit of the coast of Mendocino or Carmel in California. We lived a long time ago, and we have very good memories of that period. The drive out was just as smooth as the drive in and we quickly refueled at one of the many gas stations just outside of Nanaimo. Now on to the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park! It was a 3-hour drive from the Nanaimo BC Ferries Terminal.
The landscape is not very different from that of the mainland. There are also many high mountains and you can also ski there. Vancouver Island has one of the highest populations of bears in the world. There live between 7000 and 12000 black bears on Vancouver Island. With a population of 750.000 people on 32.000 km², Vancouver Island is slightly larger than Belgium and it does not wonder that the island has such a wide variety of animals in the wild. Victoria is located on Vancouver Island and is the capital of BC. There are about 86.000 people living there.
Many boat excursions are organized from Pacific Rim National Park or Tofino to spot bears. Usually this is done with a small boat, because the black bears can be clearly seen along the banks of the rivers when they are looking for food. From May to October you can see the most grizzly bears. You can do that with a boat or with a plane. The guides will then take you to an area in the north of Vancouver Island where you can observe them in peace.
Black bears, Grizzlies and whales ...
The best you can choose to leave from the north of the island. Port McNeill or Port Hardy are ideal dropouts for trips to the north. With a seaplane it can actually be done from any landing site for seaplanes, but beware of the (too) large (flight) distances, also on Vancouver Island. In Canada, the distances at first glance do not always seem as far away as in reality.
As always you have to make choices and we went for one 7-hour boat trip (zodiac) from Campbell River in search of humpback whales, Orcas and sea lions. That was one of the nicest trips we made on our trip through Western Canada. On the way from Nanaimo to Pacific Rim National Park we passed Cathedral Grove, but that trip was planned for if we were to drive to Miracle Beach. Now we wanted to go to the campsite as quickly as possible to arrive before dark.
Green Point Campground - Long Beach Unit
Green Point Campground was founded in 1962 and is located on the 35 km long Long Beach. After the many (unexpected) curves and mountains we arrived at our campsite around 6 pm. We went there 3 nights without having to travel many kilometers with the camper in the days we stayed.
Everywhere we arrived the campsites were fully booked. You can reserve your seats at the National Parks from January. Certainly do that, because within the half hour all places are taken for the high season. The seats at Green Point were even reserved so quickly that we had to stay 3 nights in 3 different places. By fast I mean within minutes that the reservations will open. That is usually at 8 am local time on the day that you find on the reservation page of the National Parks. In Europe it is then 4 pm or 5 pm It is quite possible that you will then just come home from work and can make a reservation, but in Australia it is at 3 am at the time and you are a bit less lucky 😊.
Walking on Long Beach
After we arrived, we started stretching our legs and went exploring. The first thing that stood out at the campsite was the planting. Pacific Rim National Park is located in a temperate rainforest. The dense vegetation, the tall trees with the many large ferns beneath and the rustling of the sea in the background made a fantastic first impression on us. From our campsite a path ran through a piece of forest to the campsite road right on the beach. There are two places from which you have access to Long Beach. The beach is still largely unspoilt and our mouths were almost open when we saw so much beautiful nature. I could not have imagined it better.
Mysterious fog from the sea
That evening we stayed on the beach for more than an hour until the sun was almost completely gone. In the sea I saw a kind of fog belt popping up at 7 pm that was getting closer. All of a sudden parts of the coast were covered in white veils of fog that gave the area a mysterious atmosphere. Occasionally the sun disappeared behind a fog bank, giving it a milky view and it was fantastic to see. It was still not cold due to our fleece, but due to the fog the temperature dropped quite quickly. The children walked from one rock to the other, jumped over the tidal pools and walked over the washed up thick tree trunks.
I think the vast beach and the sea felt a bit like a liberation for them (and for us) (from the long drive in the camper). They looked happy and this was just a glimpse of the beautiful nature on Vancouver Island that we would see. I was already looking forward to what the next day would bring, because then we went Island hopping to Vargas & Meares Island near Tofino.
Island hopping to Vargas & Meares Island - Tofino
Day 16: That day Islandhopping to Vargas Island and Meares Island was on the program. Two uninhabited islands off the coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino.Read more