I had 4 days in Vancouver before my Rocky Mountaineer trip and had heard and read that Victoria City and Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island are a must plus I wanted to know about the First Nations people on the island.
I looked at a few 2 day tours but most left you with the first day’s afternoon to just explore Victoria City by yourself. I wanted to do more.
I found the ‘2-Day Vancouver Island, Victoria, Butchart Gardens Tour’ covered exactly what I wanted to do and it didn’t disappoint. The tour was operated by Super Vacations with commentary in English and Mandarin. This tour fitted my requirements and we did many sights but I never felt rushed. Jack was an excellent guide and very informative.
Day 1: Vancouver – Victoria
I was picked up and travelled in a 20-seater bus to B.C. Ferry terminal Tsawwassen, which is south of Vancouver. We drove onto the ferry for the journey to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island. The trip was about 1 hour and 35 minutes and there was plenty of room on the ferry to sit or walk around. There were 2 outside decks although it was very cold being late April. While waiting to board the ferry our tour guide had given use a map of Vancouver Island and Victoria and a map and flower guide for Butchart Gardens.
Departing B.C. Ferry terminal Tsawwassen
Upon arrival on Vancouver Island we drove to Butchart Gardens and while driving there our guide explained the best way to tour and enjoy the gardens. We had 1 hour and 30 minutes. For more details see Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, Canada.
For lunch, we were offered a set menu at a Chinese restaurant or we could get something nearby. I decided on the Chinese and it was very interesting having lunch with 15 native Chinese. They explained it was Cantonese or Guangzhou Chinese, to me it was just like Australian Chinese.
After lunch, we went to Chinatown, Canada’s oldest Chinatown, to see the flowering cherry blossoms and Chinese gate.
Then we drove to the coast, south of Victoria City, to see the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, it was drizzling, grey and cold. I live 11,800km south-west on the other side of the Pacific Ocean!
We then went to Fisherman’s Wharf on the south side of Victoria City to see Harbour Seals and permanently moored houseboats. The seals were waiting to be fed, which some people were doing, even though there were signs saying don’t feed them. I suppose if they weren’t getting free food they wouldn’t have been there.
Finally, we arrived at Victoria City. We had 1 hour and 30 minutes to walk around. Our tour guide had given us a recommendation on what to see and do. There was the British Columbia Legislative building, Thunderbird Park with totem poles and Inner Harbour. We had time to visit the Royal B.C. Museum if we wanted to (this wasn’t included in the tour). Captain James Cook certainly got around in the Pacific, I hadn’t realised he had travelled to Vancouver Island. Cook is also ‘claimed’ by Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti and Tonga.
Water taxi, sea plane & sailing ship
For dinner, there was an option of a buffet or getting something nearby. Breakfast wasn’t included but there was a supermarket nearby for us to get breakfast and snacks for the next day.
We stayed at the Red Lion Hotel & Suites outside Victoria which was very comfortable and I enjoyed the heating in the room after such a cold and wet day.
Day 2: Victoria – Vancouver
We travelled west to Hatley Castle, which was built by a wealthy family and completed in 1908. The family eventually sold it to the government and it is now part of the Royal Roads University.
We stopped off at Goldstream Provincial Park to see where Pacific Salmon go to breed and ultimately die. This was also a great opportunity to see very old Douglas Fir trees.
Then we went North to Duncan, the City of Totems. We walked around town looking at the various totem poles, of which there are more than 80, and then had Vietnamese for lunch.
Following lunch, we continued driving North to Chemainus, which is famous for murals. The murals were drawn by famous Canadian artists in the town and illustrate the history of the development of Chemaninus, particularly logging. After walking around town, it was time to go to Nanaimo to get the B.C. Ferry back to Horseshoe Bay, which is north of Vancouver.
This was a great tour and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If was a perfect tour for what I wanted and the time I had. I have now put Vancouver Island on my ‘to do’ travel list as there is so much more to see and do including the north end of the island and doing whale watching in peak season.