One of the world’s premier locations for birding, whale-watching, and fishing (giant salmon and trout), Vancouver Island comes into its own during the summer months, when balmy summer temps (daytime highs in the low to mid-80s) attract outdoor enthusiasts.
March, April, October, and November are considered shoulder seasons on Vancouver Island. October is a great month to get outdoors on the island’s many trails, as temperatures are cool but the snow hasn’t started falling. Leaves start to change color in late September—by October, the trails are a collage of yellow, orange, and red leaves.
Winters on Vancouver Island are temperate, with snow in the high country and rain at lower elevations. Biking and hiking trails are open all year. From December through February, skiers and snowboarders flock to Cumberland and the Comax Valley for alpine skiing and snowboarding on nearby Mount Washington, as well as excellent cross-country skiing near town. Just a few miles outside of Victoria is Goldstream Provincial Park, with the largest concentration of bald eagles in Canada; from December to late January, the park hosts a series of Eagle Extravaganzas to celebrate the return of the eagles to the park—sometimes nearly 300 in a single day.
Vancouver Island is home to some 7,000 known species, including more than 200 species of migratory birds and 33 species of land mammals, making wildlife not only a common sight on the trails, but a focus of annual events including the not-to-be-missed Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March, Oceanside’s Brant Wildlife Festival in April, and the Tofino Shorebird Festival in May.
Prime bike-riding season in the Comax Valley area is May through September. Most trails in the lower elevations are clear of snow by May—higher up on Mount Washington and Forbidden Plateau, things start to defrost by early June. Throughout the summer season, Comax Valley’s main base, Cumberland, hosts a variety of art, music, and bike festivals, including the internationally acclaimed BC Bike Races in late June and July.