Embarking on a camping trip to Vancouver Island is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. The island is a beautiful gem located off the Pacific Coast of Canada in the province of British Columbia.
Offering a breathtaking blend of lush forests, rugged coastlines, and serene lakes, Vancouver Island is a great escape for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. From family-friendly sites to wilderness camping, the island caters to all kinds of campers.
It is not just the stunning natural beauty that will captivate you, but also the variety of activities available. Hiking, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife spotting are just a few of the many activities that you can indulge in.
In this post, we will list the best campgrounds on Vancouver Island, offering insights into the facilities, nearby attractions, and tips to make the most of your camping experience. So, read on if you’re ready to explore the wonders of camping on Vancouver Island.
The best time to go camping on the island
The best time to go camping on Vancouver Island is during the summer months, from June to September when the weather is typically warm and dry, and all Vancouver Island campgrounds are open. During this time, the island experiences its lowest rainfall and the highest average temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and fishing. However, it’s worth noting that this is also the busiest season for camping, so reservations are highly recommended, and some popular campgrounds may be fully booked well in advance.
While many Vancouver Island campgrounds are seasonal and close for the winter, a few remain open year-round. These campgrounds usually have fewer facilities and services available during the off-season, and the weather can be quite variable, with colder temperatures and a higher chance of rain. However, camping during the off-season can offer a more peaceful and solitary experience, as there are fewer visitors, and the island’s natural beauty is still very much on display.
The best campgrounds on Vancouver Island
When it comes to the best campgrounds on Vancouver Island, there are different types of camping on the Island. And there are several top picks that stand out. One of the most popular campgrounds is the Goldstream Provincial Park camping ground, located just outside of Victoria. This campground offers stunning natural beauty with its lush forest and towering trees. Another top pick is the China Beach Provincial Park camping ground, which is known for its sandy beaches and breathtaking ocean views. Below is a list of the ten amazing campgrounds on Vancouver Island.
1. Jordan River Regional Park Campground
Jordan River Regional Park Campground is one of the best beach camping on Vancouver Island. This campground is perfect for those who want to experience the wilderness while still having access to some basic amenities. It has 15 vehicle-accessible campsites and seven walk-in camping sites, making it suitable for campers of all kinds, whether you are in an RV, a car, or on foot.
The Regional Park campground is situated in the beautiful Jordan River area of Vancouver Island. It operates year-round and works on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has a wide range of recreational facilities available. The nearby river is perfect for fishing and surfing, and the surrounding forest has fantastic hiking and mountain biking trails.
Each campsite comes equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring, and there are pit toilets available on-site. Although the campground offers a rustic camping experience, the nearby town of Sooke provides all necessary amenities, including grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.
Address: West Coast Rd., Jordan River, Victoria, V9B 2Z8. +1 250-478-3344
2. Bella Pacifica Campground
Bella Pacifica Campground is one of the private campgrounds on Vancouver Island for families visiting Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park. Located on beautiful, sandy MacKenzie Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island, it offers a sublime blend of wilderness and comfort. From the moment you pitch your tent or park your RV, you are enveloped in the natural beauty of the West Coast, with the sound of the waves providing a soothing backdrop.
The campground is designed to cater to all needs. There are three clean and spacious washroom buildings equipped with coin-operated showers, ensuring you can refresh after a day of adventure. Despite its secluded location, the campground also offers Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing you to stay connected if necessary.
The location is a gateway to a host of activities. Whether you prefer surfing the waves, exploring the trails of Pacific Rim National Park, or simply building sandcastles with the kids, there is something for everyone. And, after a day of activities, what could be better than sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows, and gazing at the stars?
Address: 400 Mackenzie Beach Rd., Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0. +1 250-725-3400
3. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park Campground is undoubtedly one of the most idyllic provincial parks on Vancouver Island. Located near Parksville, this campground is renowned for its expansive sandy beach, majestic old-growth trees, and a wide variety of outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in beachcombing, birdwatching, or simply relaxing by the sea, Rathtrevor Beach has something for everyone.
The campground itself features over 200 well-maintained campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and fire pit. There are also modern washroom facilities, a playground for children, and a network of walking and cycling trails. Additionally, during the summer months, the park offers interpretive programs for both children and adults, making it an educational experience as well as a recreational one.
What sets Rathtrevor Beach apart from other campgrounds, however, is its stunning natural beauty. The beach, which stretches for nearly 2 kilometers, is perfect for building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply soaking up the sun. As the tide recedes, it reveals a vast expanse of sand, ideal for exploring tidal pools and searching for seashells.
Address: 1240 Rath Rd., Parksville, BC V9P 2E2: +1 250-474-1336
4. Green Point Campground: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Green Point Campground is a campground in the Pacific Rim National Park and is a crown jewel in the world of camping destinations in British Columbia. Located on the western edge of Vancouver Island, close to Long Beach, it is a mecca for those seeking oceanfront camping and a connection with the natural world. It’s not just its location by the sea that makes it special, but also the various activities that one can engage in, making it one of Vancouver Island’s best campgrounds.
The campground is nestled between the lush, temperate rainforest and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean. This unique setting provides campers with the opportunity to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and wake up to the melody of birds singing in the trees. Apart from its scenic beauty, Green Point Campground offers a range of amenities, including well-maintained campsites, clean washroom facilities, and fire pits.
Moreover, it serves as a gateway to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, home to an extensive network of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife. During the day, campers can explore the rainforest, surf the waves, or simply relax on the beach. As the sun sets, the beach transforms into a perfect spot for a bonfire and stargazing.
Due to its unparalleled beauty and facilities, Green Point Campground is a popular camping spot, and reservations are highly recommended. A stay here promises not only a chance to reconnect with nature but also an opportunity to create lasting memories in one of the most beautiful settings in British Columbia.
Address: Highway 4 Pacific Rim Hwy., Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0: +1 250-726-3500
5. Living Forest Oceanside Campsite & RV Park
Living Forest Oceanside Campsite & RV Park is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With over 300 campsites, this facility is one of the best RV campgrounds on Vancouver Island. Boasting breathtaking views of the Nanaimo River and the Pacific Ocean, campers can indulge in a wide variety of activities, including kayaking, fishing, and hiking.
The campground offers a mix of serviced and unserviced sites, accommodating tents, RVs, and everything in between. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and fire pit, and there are modern washrooms and laundry facilities available on-site. For those seeking a more comfortable stay, the campground also offers fully-equipped cabins for rent.
One of the unique features of the Living Forest Oceanside Campsite & RV Park is its extensive network of walking trails. Winding through lush forests and along the riverbank, these trails offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Additionally, the campground is conveniently located just a short drive from downtown Nanaimo, making it easy to explore the city’s attractions, restaurants, and shops.
Address: 6 Maki Rd., Nanaimo, BC V9R 6N7: (250) 755-1755
6. Surf Grove: Beachside Camping at Cox Bay in Tofino
Located in the surfer’s paradise of Cox Bay, Surf Grove Campground is undoubtedly one of Tofino’s best campsites. As one of the newest Vancouver Island camping sites, it offers a fresh and modern approach to the traditional camping experience. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and a lush coastal rainforest, Surf Grove provides a perfect base for exploring the natural beauty of Tofino.
The campground offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from fully-serviced RV sites to cozy tent sites. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and a fire pit, and there are clean and modern washroom facilities available on-site. Additionally, Surf Grove offers a range of amenities, including a camp store, surf rentals, and a communal cooking area.
Address: 1451 Pacific Rim Hwy., #1109, Tofino BC V0R2Z0: (250) 725-2750
7. Goldstream Provincial Park Campground
Goldstream Provincial Park is 16km from downtown Victoria on southern Vancouver Island, and The park boasts a vast array of flora and fauna, including ancient Douglas fir and western red cedar trees, as well as bald eagles, black-tailed deer, and spawning salmon. With its stunning natural beauty and proximity to the city, it is one of the best campgrounds to visit on Vancouver Island.
Goldstream is also in the Coastal Douglas Fir Biogeoclimatic Zone and the Nanaimo Lowlands Eco Section. Some of the trees in the park are more than 600 years old and live in small Garry oak fields, arbutus, and Douglas fir forests. Goldstream Park has a number of waterfalls, including Niagara Falls, which is almost as tall as the famous waterfall it is named after. Goldstream Falls is a small waterfall that is also in the camping area of the park.
One of the highlights of Goldstream Provincial Park is the Goldstream River, which runs through the park and is home to a world-renowned salmon spawning run. Thousands of Chum salmon return to the river every fall to spawn, attracting visitors worldwide.
Address: 53 Island Hwy., Langford, BC: (250) 474-1336
8. Juan de Fuca – China Beach Campground
Located within Juan de Fuca Park on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island, the China Beach Campground is a gem for campers seeking a serene and picturesque setting. It is a part of the island where you can camp during your trip to Vancouver Island and offers a range of recreational activities to make your stay enjoyable and memorable.
The park has four primary sections: the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Botanical Beach, China Beach day-use area, and China Beach Campground. The China Beach Campground provides different campsites that can accommodate both small RVs and tents. Each site features a fire pit and picnic table, and the facilities have clean and modern washrooms.
Beyond the campground, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail offers a challenging hike along the coastline, with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The China Beach day-use area is perfect for picnicking, beachcombing, and exploring tidal pools. Meanwhile, Botanical Beach is renowned for its unique tidal pools and rich marine life.
Address: 12287 BC-14, Capital H (Part 2), BC
9. Gordon Bay Provincial Park
Gordon Bay Provincial Park campground is a 104-hectare getaway located on the shores of Lake Cowichan, north of Duncan on Vancouver Island. Its stunning natural beauty and serene surroundings offer the perfect destination for a camping trip.
Various activities keep you entertained, such as swimming, kayaking, and fishing in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the nearby trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding forests and mountains.
The campground provides well-maintained facilities, including spacious campsites, clean washrooms, and showers. There is also a convenience store nearby, where you can stock up on essential supplies and enjoy a delicious meal.
When planning your camping trip to Gordon Bay Provincial Park camping grounds, make sure to book your site in advance, as it can get quite busy during peak season.
Address: Walton Rd., Cowichan Valley, BC V0R: (250) 749-4096
10. Strathcona Provincial Park
Strathcona Provincial Park is located in central Vancouver Island, and it is a vast expanse of wilderness that offers a range of camping options for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to 96 reservable front country sites, 161 vehicle-accessible sites, 3 group sites, and five boat-accessible sites, making it one of the most versatile sites on Vancouver Island for campers of all levels.
The front country sites are perfect for those seeking a more traditional camping experience, with sites available for both tents and RVs. These sites come equipped with picnic tables and fire pits, and modern washroom facilities are available on-site. For those looking for a more secluded experience, the boat-accessible sites offer a unique opportunity to camp on the shores of one of the park’s many lakes.
Additionally, Strathcona Provincial Park offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating. The park is home to a vast network of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry hikes. The park also has several lakes and rivers, making it a popular destination for anglers and boaters.
Address: Westmin Rd., Comox-Strathcona District, BC V6T 1Z4: (844) 435-9453
Free camping on Vancouver Island
A few choices are available if you’re looking for campsites with no camping fees on Vancouver Island. One option is the Marble River Recreation Site, located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This recreation site offers basic camping facilities and is a great base for exploring the surrounding wilderness. Another option is the Clayoquot Arm Beach Recreation Site, although it is currently closed due to environmental concerns.
Glamping on Vancouver Island
Glamping is a great option if you prefer a more luxurious camping experience. Several glamping options on Vancouver Island offer unique and comfortable accommodations. One popular choice is the Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach, where you can sleep in treehouses suspended from the trees. Another option is the Cowichan River Lodge in Lake Cowichan, which offers luxury camping in riverfront cabins.
Provincial Park campgrounds: vehicle accessible
Vancouver Island is home to several provincial park camps that are accessible by vehicle. These campgrounds offer a range of amenities and facilities to ensure a comfortable camping experience. Some of the top choices include the Goldstream Provincial Park camping ground just outside of Victoria, the Gordon Bay Provincial Park camping ground on Cowichan Lake, and the Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park camping ground near Parksville.
Provincial Park campgrounds: walk-in and backcountry
If you prefer a more secluded camping experience, there are several provincial park camps on Vancouver Island that are only accessible by foot or by backcountry camping. These campgrounds offer a more rustic and immersive camping experience. Some popular choices include the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, the Sproat Lake Provincial Park, and the Cape Scott Provincial Park.
What to wear hiking in the summer
When planning a hiking adventure in the summer, especially in the beautiful BC parks or around Vancouver Island, it is essential to dress appropriately to ensure comfort and safety. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to draw sweat away from your body. Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics like nylon or polyester for your clothing. Long sleeves and pants can protect your skin from the sun, insects, and brushing.
A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen are crucial for protecting yourself from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to pack a light, waterproof jacket, as the weather can change quickly, even in the summer.
Footwear is equally important. Select well-fitting hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support and a sturdy sole. Remember to wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
Lastly, always pack extra layers, even in the summer, as temperatures can drop significantly in the evening, especially in the mountainous regions of BC parks and around Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island camping tips
Camping on Vancouver Island is a majestic experience filled with lush forests, rugged coastlines, and wildlife encounters. To make the most of your adventure, here are some tips:
- Plan Ahead: Popular campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Make reservations in advance whenever possible.
- Pack Wisely: The weather can be unpredictable. Bring layers of clothing, rain gear, and a well-insulated tent.
- Respect Wildlife: You may encounter wildlife, including bears and cougars. Keep a safe distance, store food securely, and know what to do in an encounter.
- Leave No Trace: Pack out everything you pack in, and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
- Be fire-safe: Fire restrictions can be in place during dry seasons. Always check the current fire regulations and be prepared to cook on a camp stove.
When are campgrounds open?
Most campgrounds on Vancouver Island are open from late spring to early fall, typically from May to September or October. The exact opening and closing dates may vary depending on the specific campground, weather conditions, and maintenance schedules. Some campgrounds, especially those in lower elevations or urban areas, may remain open year-round, but facilities and services may be limited during the off-season.
Weather conditions on Vancouver Island can be unpredictable, and the region receives significant rainfall, especially in the fall and winter months. As a result, some campgrounds may close earlier than planned or remain closed until later in the spring if the grounds are too wet or if there is a risk of flooding.
It is always recommended to check the official websites of the campgrounds or contact the park authorities for up-to-date information on campground availability, as there may be closures or restrictions in place due to various factors such as weather, maintenance, or wildlife activity. Additionally, reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak summer months, as campgrounds on Vancouver Island can fill up quickly.
Conclusion: Best camping on Vancouver Island
In conclusion, Vancouver Island in British Columbia is the ultimate destination for those seeking the epitome of nature’s beauty. This jewel of the Pacific Northwest is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and offers some of the best tent camping experiences in the world.
Whether you are an avid hiker, a bird-watcher, or simply someone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, this island has a camping area that will suit your needs.
One notable campground is located in the temperate rainforest, where towering Douglas firs and western red cedars provide a canopy overhead. Here, you will be lulled to sleep by the sound of a nearby river and wake up to the symphony of birdsong.
Moreover, the island’s diverse landscape, ranging from rugged coastlines to serene lakes and dense forests, ensures a unique and unforgettable camping adventure for everyone. With its pristine wilderness, diverse wildlife, and a plethora of recreational activities, it is no wonder that Vancouver Island is considered one of the top camping destinations in British Columbia.
Campgrounds on a map
FAQs on Vancouver Island campgrounds
What if you don’t have a reservation?
Finding camping spots on Vancouver Island is still possible if you don’t have a reservation. Many campgrounds have a certain number of first-come, first-served campsites available. However, it is important to arrive early, especially during peak season, as these campsites tend to fill up quickly. It is also advisable to have a backup plan or alternative campground in case your preferred campground is full.
Can you camp in the winter?
Winter camping on Vancouver Island is possible during the winter months, although the number of campgrounds that remain open is limited. Many campgrounds close for winter due to safety concerns and reduced visitor demand. However, a few campgrounds remain open year-round, such as the Goldstream Provincial Park campground near Victoria. It is important to be prepared for cold and wet weather conditions if you camp during winter.
Provincial or private campgrounds?
When it comes to choosing a campground on Vancouver Island, there are two main types to consider: private campgrounds and provincial campgrounds. Private campgrounds are typically operated by private individuals or companies and often offer additional amenities and services, such as laundry facilities, playgrounds, and Wi-Fi. On the other hand, provincial campgrounds are operated by the government and offer a more rustic camping experience, with basic facilities and a focus on natural beauty.
Where to do the shopping?
If you need to stock up on supplies for your camping trip on Vancouver Island, there are several options for shopping. The larger cities, such as Victoria, Nanaimo, and Campbell River, have a wide range of supermarkets and outdoor stores where you can purchase camping gear, food, and other essentials. There are also smaller grocery stores and convenience stores throughout the island, including in smaller towns and villages.