Vancouver Island, on Canada’s west coast, is a prime spot where deep fjords cut through the jagged, barren coastline and clusters of old rainforest collide with the harsh waves of the Pacific Ocean. Positive. About the size of Taiwan, but with a population density similar to the Scottish Highlands, sustainability is part of the fabric here. Large areas of the island consist of wilderness – and most people want to keep it that way.

Here are half a dozen greenest attractions in the area.

Skyscraper Forest

The Malahat Skywalk is a unique spiral treewalk that winds its way through the woods 33 kilometers north of Victoria. Built on the traditional territory of the Malahat First Nation, who are partners on the project, opens in 2021 as a place to be in nature in an evergreen Pacific Northwest setting.

Impressive view from Malahat Skywalk

(Brendan Sainsbury’s)

The 32m-tall wooden and glass structure looks like a giant sugarcane basket that rises above the forest canopy and is accessed by a gently graded walkway that winds through 10 floors to look out over a circle. covers forests, fjords and mountains. You can hike through a treetop “adventure net” and sweeping views stretch as far as Mt Baker, a 3,286m high glacial volcano in the US. To go down, double-check your steps on a footpath or catapult down a ski slope with a twist steering wheel. Around the base of the tower, First Nations groups share traditional storytelling and drumming, and innovative eco-art made from old driftwood adorns the surrounding forest.

Orb in the tree

Immerse yourself in nature: Liberty’s Orb

(Brendan Sainsbury’s)

Speaking of direct communication with nature… Free Spirit Orb – spherical wooden bark suspended from trees near Qualicum Beach – like big eyes looking out over the forest. Designed as an ultra-eccentric accommodation option by inventor owner Tom Chudleigh, the well-rounded capsules are furnished with pull-out beds, cleverly crafted cabinets, a small library, and a spiral staircase that leads down to independent apartments. The ground floor facility block has a sauna, a BBQ and a high-quality shower. You will feel like you are in a small but luxurious caravan floating in a lively ecosystem.

Mountain biking village

Cumberland, in the Comox Valley, is a former coal mining settlement founded in the 1880s that was in danger of becoming a ghost town in the 1960s when the mines closed and the population virtually evaporated. . Reclassifying itself as a village, it was saved in the early 21st century by a group of visionary residents who acquired endangered biodiversity forests by logging and build a network of 170 hiking and biking paths. It has become one of Canada’s best mountain bike networks and the erratic main street of mining-era buildings has sprouted a host of independent shops and restaurants to support the leisure tourist influx.

Cumberland Community Forest

(Brendan Sainsbury’s)

Pacific Cycling Road

“ʔapsčiik t̓ašii” (pronounced up-má ta-shee) is not your average long-distance bike path. Running parallel to the wild shores of the Pacific Ocean for 40 kilometers, it was built between 2017 and 2022 in consultation with First Nations groups to link the two tiny surf towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. With more than 25 kilometers of roads bisecting the Pacific Rim national park, its construction schedule is carefully organized around migratory nesting season. The proper name means “on the right track” in the native Nuu-chah-nulth language.

Opened this spring, the trail offers easy access to rainforest hikes, surf beaches, First Fatherland sites and World War wrecks Monday. Unexpectedly, it even has a novel two-wheeled detour through the lobby of Hotel Zeda gorgeous 1970s retro-looking property opening in 2020 near Tofino.

Book a room at Hotel Zed

Agritourism in the Cowichan . Valley

Recently awarded the only sub-GI winegrowing title, the Cowichan Valley is a fertile farmland in the southeastern corner of the island blessed with a Mediterranean-like climate and history. long-standing agriculture. Locals flowery call it “Canada’s Provence” or the “Napa Valley of the North,” even though its horticultural potential stretches beyond its 14 wineries.

Merridale Cidery and Distillery offers tours and tastings

(Brendan Sainsbury’s)

It is Canada’s only tea farm, North America’s only producer of traditional balsamic vinegar, three wineries, multiple breweries, a lavender farm, and several cheese producers.

Most of the region’s approximately 600 small farms are engaged in community-assisted agriculture (CSA), whereby consumers purchase seasonal produce from known local sources. Many farms and vineyards are also open to the public, making the area increasingly popular for agritourism. Merridale Cidery and Distillery offers tours, tastings and cuisines.

Cross-island trail

Over 12 years old, the Vancouver Island Trail is Canada’s newest hiking route. Conceived and built by a volunteer-run nonprofit, it encircles the spine of Vancouver Island for 800 kilometers stretching from Victoria in the south to Cape Scott in the north. Over 90% complete as of 2022, this trail combines countless elements of Vancouver Island’s landscape and culture: ancient forests, hidden mountains, logging trails, spooky logging camps , the giant wooden railway truss and the territories of nearly 50 First Nations groups.

To date, about a dozen people have completed the entire trail, and many more have taken up shorter stretches or hikes during the day. See Vancouver Island Trail Association website for maps and details.

Travel essentials

Arrive there

Trying to fly less?

Canada’s west coast is one of those hard-to-fly destinations. Intrepid travelers can catch a freighter from Liverpool to Nova Scotia, then cross the whole of Canada by train: Halifax-Montreal, Montreal-Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver.

Good with flying?

WestJet, Air Canada and British Airways fly direct from London to Vancouver.

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