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With its rugged coastlines, jagged mountains and moss-covered rainforests, Vancouver Island's natural environment is overwhelmingly beautiful. An unparalleled diversity of flora and fauna is found here in a relatively small area. There are no fewer than 18 nature parks to explore and bears, orcas and dolphins are a common sight.
Vancouver Island is located right off the coast of Vancouver and is easy to reach by boat. Countless tours are organised from the charming island capital of Victoria, but the best way to explore the island is by rental car. The island, 460 kilometres long and around 100 kilometres wide, has sights of interest within easy reach from almost every part of the island. Below is a selection of the best parks on the island.
The majestic and rugged beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park are undoubtedly among the highlights of Vancouver Island. The park has 3 sections: West Coast Trail, the Broken Group of Islands and Long Beach, the most accessible part of the park. Walking along this 20-kilometre-long beach is a fantastic experience. At low tide, the tide pools are filled with anemones and bright purple and orange starfish.
The Broken Group of Islands is a group of more than 100 islands, an archipelago that is ideal for kayaking and camping. Those looking for more of a challenge will find it along the West Coast Trail. This famous 75-kilometre trail runs along the south-western coast of Vancouver Island. It takes around a week to walk it in its entirety, though you can always hike smaller sections of it.
Tranquillity reigns among the gigantic moss-covered spruce trees of the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. The trees are (literally) the top attraction in this park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, including trees that are more than 1,000 years old. The 95-metre-tall Carmanah Giant is the tallest silver spruce in the world, in spite of its relatively young age of 400 years.
The heart of Vancouver Island is dominated by Strathcona Provincial Park, the largest park on the island. The snow-covered mountaintops, crystal-blue lakes and thundering waterfalls in the area have been attracting nature lovers from around the world for years. This park is particularly popular among those looking for real wilderness, since large sections of the park have not yet been cultivated. The tallest waterfall in Canada (Della, 440 metres) is located in this park, but the trail to it is only suitable for experienced hikers. Much easier to reach and also worth seeing are the Lower Myra Falls.