Indulge in some of the freshest fish (with chips of course) at the base of an old lighthouse on Nanaimo’s waterfront, accompanied by a prime view of the harbour. See amazing crystal formations and ancient fossils in the caves of Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park with a local guide. Your 3-night Feature stay in Tofino offers a unique beachfront cabin resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Take a guided tour in Tofino in search of whales, bears, otters and more before finishing with a soak in some natural, geothermic hot spring pools under a cascading waterfall
For lovers of the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much better than Canada’s southwest coast. Snow-capped mountains on the skyline, top-quality hiking and watersports, and fresh, crisp British Columbia air are in abundance – to say nothing of the grand old architecture and excellent cuisine. Cruise from Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia, explore a labyrinth of caves near Nanaimo, bask in hot springs and spot wildlife in the coastal paradise of Tofino, and visit one of the world’s finest show gardens near Victoria. This is west coast Canada done in style.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: 1 Lunches Included: 1
Welcome to Canada. Meet your Peregrine representative at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. If you arrive early, perhaps wander around the historic Gastown area downtown. If it's clear, take in vivid scenes of snow-dusted mountains on the horizon.
Take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to the harbour town of Nanaimo (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes). This is Vancouver's second largest city, next to Victoria. After exploring the waterfront boardwalk, enjoy some fresh fish and chips for lunch at the Lighthouse Bistro & Pub. In the evening, set sail on a sunset catamaran cruise around the beautiful harbour. Feel free to bring some refreshments along, as there's a refrigerator on board.
Head over to Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park to partake in some spelunking. Embark on the Riverbend Explorer tour (approximately 2 hours), an easy journey that leads you into Riverbend Cave without having to crawl or do any vertical clmibing. Along the way, witness amazing crystal formations and ancient fossils, and learn about the history and geology of the cave. There will also be a short 'lights out' period, allowing you to immerse yourself for a few moments in the ambience of the dark. Note that the tour does include one moderately strenuous uphill passage which lasts about 25 minutes. There will be some loose rocks along the way, so be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes. The route returns to the start via a steep downhill trail. Informative stops are made along the way.
Drive across the centre of Vancouver Island to Tofino (approximately 2–3 hours, not including stops). Stop at Cathedral Grove for a walk in 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 these towering beauties, some of which are more than 800 years old. A lunch stop in Port Alberni will be made on the way to Tofino. Tofino was named the best surf town in North America in Outside Magazine's 2010 Editors' Choice awards, which gives an idea of its calibre as a coastal destination. It's also a great spot for storm watching and whale watching. Tonight's accommodation is right on the water, so enjoy a stroll along the beach before heading out for dinner.
Set off on a day trip visiting Tofino's coastal hot springs. Once disembarking at the dock in Hot Springs Cove, you will follow the historic cedar boardwalk through lush rainforest (approximately 1.5 kilometres). At the end of this walk lies a succession of natural geothermal hot spring pools, a cascading waterfall and a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. There's an excellent chance to see much of the following wildlife along the way: whales, black bears, seals, sea lions, puffins, sea otters and bald eagles.
Walk the Wild Pacific Trail with the local trail maverick Jim Martin, known affectionately as Oyster Jim. Join him in exploring tides, marine life, and the wild west coast temperate rainforest, taking in spectacular views along the way. Jim has sculpted this trail himself, and the new Ancient Cedars section is a fantastic example of the away Jim applies his intimate knowledge of the coastline and artisan’s eye. He surveys and shapes each section of this nature trail using green trail building practices.
Make the drive to Victoria today (approximately 4 hours). On the way there, stop and visit Butchart Gardens. This is one of the world's finest floral show gardens, bursting with colour, and it's a little hard to fathom that it was built on top of an abadoned quarry. Spend some time exploring its various sections, ranging from Japenese to Mediterranean displays. Observe a diverse spread of flowers – rhododendrons, magnolias, tulips, blue poppies and more. Continue to Victoria and enjoy a free evening to stretch the legs and stroll around the inner harbour.
Explore Victoria's stately architecture on a guided tour today. From the Empress Hotel and Parliament Buildings of the inner harbour, to some beautifully preserved Edwardian mansions, Victoria is heaven for lovers of grand old English aesthetics. This history-rich tour traces the evolution of Victoria through the eyes of its grand 19th century buildings, and each has its own story. In the evening, there is no shortage of quality dining options, as Victoria's relatively young food scene is a good one.
Return to Vancouver by ferry (approximately 2 hours). Make the most of a free afternoon – perhaps spend it strolling around Stanley Park, sipping craft beers at Brassneck microbrewery, or exploring the Vancouver Art Gallery. In the evening, head out for a farewell dinner with the rest of the group in a local restaurant that features First Nations-inspired cuisine.
The adventure comes to an end today.