Self Drive Highlights of Vancouver Island

# Tailor-Made Tour

Self Drive Highlights of Vancouver Island

13 Days from £3154 per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you
13 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Whale Watching
Self Drive

Taking in grizzly and black bears, two populations of orcas, grey and humpback whales, mountains, beaches, ancient forests and Vancouver itself, this self-drive holiday is ideal for those that enjoy exploring at their own pace. With a mixture of boat trips, kayaking and hiking this itinerary provides an opportunity to explore some of Vancouver Islands’ top natural attractions at your own pace. Starting with the orcas and marine life of the Salish Sea, you then begin exploring Vancouver Island. The rugged coastline and old growth forests of sleepy Ucluelet are home to many black bears, while grey whales, porpoises, sea lions and occasional sea otters can be spotted at sea. Heading further north Telegraph Cove offers calmer water, ideal for kayaking and more orca viewing. There is also an exciting day trip into the dramatic landscapes of Knight Inlet, home to grizzly bears, bald eagles and Pacific white-sided dolphins.


Price from £3154 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms and travel in September. Includes all domestic flights, activities and accommodation but excludes car hire which can be quoted for.

Day 1 - Arrive Vancouver

Met on arrival in Vancouver with a private transfer to your hotel in downtown Vancouver. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax and recover from your flight.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Salish Sea

njoy the morning at leisure to recover from your flight. Around mid-day pick up from the hotel by shuttle bus for the transfer to Steventon.

Enjoy a shared guided whale watching trip into the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands to south of Vancouver in search of orcas and humpback whales.

Both Transient ‘mammal-eating’ orcas and southern resident 'fish-eating' orcas frequent these waters. The southern resident orcas are now sadly very endangered, but the transient orcas are more abundant.

Humpback whales are also now regular in this area particularly from June to September. Other wildlife likely to be seen includes huge Steller’s sea lions, Pacific harbour seals, many seabirds and bald eagles. Return to your hotel in the evening by shuttle bus.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 3 - Ucluelet

Today pick up from the hotel and transfer to Vancouver Airport’s South Terminal. Take Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Campbell River.

On arrival at the airport collect your hire car (not included in tour cost and can be quoted for depending on size) and self-drive (approx. 4 hours) to Ucluelet at your own pace. Take your time to enjoy the mountain and forest scenery and any wildlife along the way.

Staying at Waters Edge Shoreside Suites. Includes No Meals.

Day 4 - Ucluelet and Tofino

Early this morning take an excursion by boat with Remote Passages around the sheltered coastal inlets in search of Ucluelet and Tofino in search of black bears that forage at low tide along the shoreline for crabs. Enjoy watching the bears go about their daily business from a respectful distance.

Later perhaps use the afternoon to explore the mossy old growth temperate rainforest of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Or perhaps walk one of Ucluelet or Tofino’s wild and windswept beaches. This is also a good area for birdlife with migratory waders and seabirds passing through in the spring and autumn.

Staying at Waters Edge Shoreside Suites. Includes No Meals.

Day 5 - Ucluelet and Tofino

Today (weather permitting) take a boat trip further out to sea with Remote Passages in search of both grey and humpback whales that feed in the rich waters along this stretch of the Pacific coast. Grey whales pass here on their migration north (March and April) and south (October) but also as many as 100 usually spend the summer feeding here too. Humpbacks are present throughout the summer months and orcas are seen on rare occasions too.

Besides the great whales, a small number of sea otters are now being seen along this part of the coast too. Other marine highlights could include Steller’s sea lions, harbour seals and various sea birds including rhinoceros auklets and migrating tufted puffins. (Please note that sea here can be rough and choppy).

Includes No Meals.

Day 6 - Telegraph Cove

Today drive (approx. 6-7 hours in total) across Vancouver Island to Telegraph Cove on the north east coast. Along the journey perhaps stop in the Cathedral Grove within the MacMillian Provincial Park to admire the splendour of the ancient (800-year-old) Douglas Fir trees, some reaching nearly 250 feet in height.
Perhaps stop for lunch in Campbell River before continuing north to the small coastal village of Telegraph Cove and your accommodation.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 7 - Glendale Cove

Today rise early, to take an exciting (and potentially bumpy) boat ride through the wilds of remote and rugged Knight Inlet to the Glendale Cove. Enjoy a lunch on arrival in the cove, before exploring the cove via a flat-bottomed skiff for grizzly bears.

Glendale Cove supports one of the highest densities of grizzly bears in British Columbia due to its abundant and varied food sources available to the bears throughout the year. Here you can hopefully enjoy some good sightings of grizzly bears at eye level in their natural habitat. The bears feed on salmon in August and September and on protein rich sedges and crabs in May, June and July.

On the return trip you may spot black bears along the shoreline or encounter a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins or even a humpback whale.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes Lunch.

Day 8 - Johnstone Strait

Today take a morning whale watching trip into Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound in search of its celebrated northern 'fish-eating' orcas (killer whales), humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Steller’s sea lions, harbour seals and birdlife.

Spend the afternoon exploring the local area or relaxing back at the lodge. Racoons, black bears, American martens, mink and black-tailed (mule) deer have all been spotted close to the lodge.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 9 - Johnstone Strait

Today take a thrilling guided kayaking tour through the usually placid waters of Johnstone Strait. With its sheltered water and exciting marine life, the strait makes for an ideal location to enjoy a wildlife safari by kayak. Although sightings of orcas, humpback whales, porpoises and sea lions cannot be guaranteed, they are all very possible. This is a particularly unique and memorable way to experience the beauty of Johnstone Strait and any wildlife you do encounter. Return to the lodge in the evening.

Staying at Telegraph Cove Resort Cabin. Includes No Meals.

Day 10 - Vancouver

Today drive (approx. 1 hour) north to Port Hardy airport to first drop off your hire car. In the afternoon take a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight back to Vancouver. Met on arrival with a private transfer to your hotel in downtown Vancouver.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 11 - Vancouver

Enjoy a day at leisure in Vancouver to relax or explore independently. Optional tours are available. Downtown Vancouver offers many attractions such as the fascinating Museum of Anthropology, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Gastown Markets and the Vancouver Lookout Tower. While a little further out of town are the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain Cable Car for wonderful vistas.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 12 - Vancouver

Enjoy another full day at leisure in Vancouver to explore independently or book Optional tours locally or in advance.

Staying at Exchange Hotel. Includes No Meals.

Day 13 - Vancouver

Take a private transfer back to Vancouver airport. Depart on your onward flight.

Includes No Meals.

Travel Info

Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:
Direct flight options from the UK to Vancouver include British Airways, Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat.

Best Visited:
June to September

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

Add an extra day at Telegraph Cove if you want to give yourself more bear and whale watching oppurtunities.


If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

Route Map

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Listel Hotel: 49.287095, -123.129296
Hidden Cove Lodge: 50.551295, -126.859840
Middle Beach Lodge: 49.134556, -125.905846