8 Best Campgrounds on Vancouver Island

Whether it comes to ending boredom due to a hectic work schedule or wanting to just enjoy the company of mother nature, camping is the most sorted outdoor activity preferred by travel enthusiasts all over the world. This is not only the cheaper option while traveling but also gives you perks like waking up with breathtaking scenes of gigantic mountain peaks, pristine beaches, or amazing waterfalls in front of you.

So if you are ready to take on an adventurous camping trip, no other place is better than the campgrounds on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island features some of the best national park campgrounds, private campgrounds, BC parks, and recreation sites which are vehicle accessible and specifically famous for activities like surfing, kiteboarding, and hiking. You will get to enjoy hiking on one of the most beautiful hiking trails on campgrounds on Vancouver Island here. Do you want any extra advice while hiking to these places? 

Don’t forget to carry hiking boots with you that will help you keep your feet comfortable and protected. Especially if you love to click feet pics while hiking.  

Also, while planning a trip it is advisable to avoid the peak season for camping on Campgrounds in Vancouver Island which is considered to be mid-June to early September as fees are highest during peak season, also there will be immense crowds which will only ruin your purpose of the camping trip.

1. Best Campgrounds on Vancouver Island

So now that you have seen when to go and the necessary things to carry, let’s now look into some of the best campgrounds Vancouver Island has.

1.1. Cape Scott Provincial Park

cape scottt
By EB Adventure Photography from Shutterstock

Whenever you think about camping on Vancouver Island, at the northwest extremity of Vancouver Island, 562 kilometres from Victoria, there is Cape Scott Provincial Park. It is a stunning region of rough coastal wilderness that you can’t keep out of your list of campgrounds on Vancouver Island.

Cape Scott, a town that was founded in 1973 and took its name from the location of a lighthouse that has been guiding seafarers since 1960, is distinguished by more than 115 kilometres of picturesque ocean frontage, including around 30 kilometres of breathtakingly secluded beaches.

The park spans south to San Josef Bay from Shushartie Bay in the east, then westward around Cape Scott. The fine-textured, white-sand beaches are framed by rocky promontories, salt marshes, and sharp headlands.

The longest and widest of these beaches, Nels Bight, is one of the park’s most stunning, measuring more than 2,400 metres in length and 210 metres in width at low tide.

All year long, visitors to Cape Scott should be prepared for windy and rainy weather. Between 375 and 500 centimetres of rainfall on average each year, and even in the summer, extended bright days are uncommon. At any time of the year, one may anticipate strong winds, heavy rain, and severe weather in general. Once, a storm blew so fiercely that it tipped this lighthouse on its side.

There is no ideal time to visit the park, however, most people like to go in the middle of the summer.

Within the park, there are chances for wild camping, hiking, and animal observation. The length of the trails varies from two to thirty kilometres, and they can be easy strolls or difficult, demanding tests of stamina. The relentless rain makes it tough and muddy to go on some of British Columbia’s most demanding off-road tracks, but the visual and emotional benefits are unmatched, especially on a clear day which makes it a favourite campground among campgrounds on Vancouver Island.

From May to September, overnight camping in the backcountry is subject to a cost which you will get a fair idea from the respective authorities of the campground or provincial park. The trailhead and boat launch for the San Josef River both have self-registration vaults. If you decide to set up a temporary shelter under the weather, kindly take it down completely after you are done and leave the area in its natural form so that others can take in the scenery the way you have.

Although there are no official swimming places at Cape Scott Provincial Park, swimmers frequently use the beaches near Nels Bight and San Josef Bay. Please be mindful of the occasionally rough surf conditions and potential riptides.  Kayaking and canoeing are becoming more and more popular, especially around San Josef Bay.

1.2. Strathcona Provincial Park

Strathcona Provincial Park
Photo by Lesly Derksen on Unsplash

The oldest provincial park in British Columbia is a must-see attraction on campgrounds on Vancouver Island and is situated in the middle of the island on North Vancouver Island.

Strathcona Provincial Park is home to some of the greatest walks and provincial park campgrounds like Buttle Lake campground and Ralph River Campground on Vancouver Island, with over 250,000 hectares of rocky mountains, snow-capped peaks, small rivers, dramatic waterfalls, lovely lakes, and an abundance of animals.

However, this location in Canada is frequently disregarded because of its great distances and remoteness. Make a trip to Strathcona Provincial Park a priority by using this blog as inspiration.

This park is impacted by the seasons much like every other site on Vancouver Island (and in all of Canada). The winters are quite cold, lengthy, and snowy (at higher elevations), in contrast to the summers’ pleasant warmth but have a brief duration. From November through March, snowfall is frequent on the mountain peaks and the majority of the paths.

Before July, several park areas are still covered with snow. The greatest time of year to explore is often from the start of June until the end of September. Rainstorms are still erratic throughout the year. So, dress appropriately. Only because there are so many of them, the trails in Strathcona Park are the major draw. This park offers every sort of trekking you could want.

It is a big campground, but it does get full in summer, so book ahead for July, August and holiday weekends.

1.3. Green Point Campground

The magnificent Green Point Campground is located between Long Beach and Combers Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park. The campground includes nearly 20 sites for trekking, 94 automobile sites, one group site, and many sites with camping equipment for an additional cost.

The bulk of the sites are beautifully separated from one another in the lush coastal rainforest to offer appropriate seclusion from neighbours, and the campsite is tastefully constructed but not overly developed.

There are a few other lovely campgrounds close to Tofino-Ucluelet, but Green Point is the only one inside Pacific Rim National Park’s Long Beach Unit, and it is among the top campgrounds Vancouver Island has.

Given its great location in the middle of western Canada’s most well-known beach, Green Point’s popularity should come as no surprise. A small walk leads north from the campsite to Long Beach, and a longer trail leads south from Combers Beach.

A boardwalk route runs through a tunnel of Krumholz trees, which appear to lean away from the shore as a result of the strong salty/sandy Pacific wind that has limited their development, connecting Long Beach and Combers Beach.

Although campgrounds frequently fill up these days, bookings for Green Point Campgrounds sometimes sell out shortly after going live online. One seasoned camper remarked that even in the 1980s when reservations for campsites were virtually nonexistent, this park could typically be completely booked months in advance.

At Green Point, everything you could desire is just outside your tent or RV, whether you want to surf, swim, explore, or simply unwind on the beach.

1.4. Pachena Bay Campground

Pachena Bay Campground
Photo by Laura Lefurgey-Smith on Unsplash

Pachena Bay Beach is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is close to the neighbourhood of Bamfield. The sandy beach, which is close to the Huu-Ay-Aht First Nations Village, is a well-liked local beach attraction that will add a different dimension to your camping. The beach camping is run and maintained by the Huu-Ay-Aht (locals) people.

There is white sand which can be seen everywhere on Pachena Bay Beach. Large driftwood logs are dispersed along the shoreline. Winter storms have forced several people ashore. The ocean waves recede at low tide, exposing a much bigger beach with recently crushed wet sand.

There are many activities to do at Pachena Bay Beach. Camping, beachcombing, sightseeing, animal viewing, picnics, and hiking are a few of the outdoor activities. From Pachena Bay to the start of the West Coast Trail, there is a beautiful boardwalk hiking path with towers that pass through the mesmerizing lush green jungle. Pachena Bay Beach is frequently used by trekkers as a staging area before or following a long-distance hike.

A First Nations-run campsite is located close to the beach. The campground offers tenting and RV campsites, some powered and some lakefront, as well as hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables, running water, fire pits, and a picnic shelter.

Exquisite wildlife and the sparkling blue ocean may both be seen from Pachena Bay. On certain days, the horizon is filled with cruise ships and big barges. Sometimes yachts and sailboats anchor in a safe bay.

1.5. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

British Columbia is renowned for the beautiful vistas of its natural beauty, long, meandering beaches, and spectacular hiking routes. Natural parks in the area are some of the most popular in the world, and they provide a wealth of lush woods that are home to a variety of fascinating animals and other creatures.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park may be a spot to visit if you are searching for a gorgeous parkland where you may trek and take in the island’s beaches. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is only a 5-minute drive from the sleepy hamlet of Parksville and offers all you need for a camping trip on Vancouver Island.

The park is about 3 km south of the town on Highway 19a, so if you are driving there, it would be advisable to follow the signs for Parksville. You should leave the Inland Island Highway at exit 51 and continue driving until you see signage for the park.

1.6. Loveland Bay Provincial Park

On central Vancouver Island, Loveland Bay Provincial Park is close to the Campbell River and provides a peaceful setting for camping, swimming, and fishing.

Loveland Bay is a tiny provincial park close to Campbell River that offers campers a secluded camping experience on the beaches of stunning Campbell Lake. For day trips to the surrounding towns of Campbell River, Gold River, Sayward, Kelsey Bay, Quadra and Cortes Islands, the park makes a suitable base camp.

You can spend the day doing activities like water skiing, fishing, canoeing, or kayaking if you don’t want to leave Loveland Bay’s serene environment. Alternately, unwind and work on your tan between dips in the lake that has been bathed in the sun.

In this tranquil lakeside park, there are two group sites. Ten units or groups can stay at Group Site A, the bigger location to the right of the park entrance. There is immediate lake access here. Six groups or units can stay at Group Site B, which is tucked away in the forest on the campground’s left-hand side. There are picnic tables and a shared fire ring for each group site. It is strongly advised that you first reserve the campsite.

1.7. Schoen Lake Provincial Park Campground

Northeastern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada’s Schoen Lake Provincial Park is a provincial park that is located west of Sayward and east of the town of Woss Lake. The park is located inside the watershed of Nimpkish Valley.

The “Class A” park was formally established on October 28, 1977, to preserve, display, and explain a representative illustration of the natural characteristics and processes of the Insular Mountains Natural Region. 8,775 hectares is the overall size of the park (21,684 acres).

Numerous lakes, waterways, and mountain ranges may be found among those parkland hectares.

Schoen Lake Campground will give you the rawest and most natural campsite experience that no other campsite on campgrounds Vancouver Island can provide.

There are 9 campsites with a natural boat launch near the western end of Schoen Lake. The campgrounds provide easy access to recreational pursuits that lead to a genuine distant wilderness experience.

From May to September, the campgrounds include picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, and a camp host. The road leading from Highway 19 to the campsite is unmaintained, narrow, and rugged. Despite the difficulties caused by the gravel road’s poor state, campers, motor homes, RVs, and cars hauling trailers frequently utilize the access route.

1.8. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park Campground

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park Campground
By Anton Couper from Shutterstock

On the west coast of southern Vancouver Island, the provincial park Juan de Fuca provides breathtaking hiking trails, incredible animal and marine life sightings, and roaring waves. The park is divided into four primary areas: Botanical Beach, China Beach Day Use Area, Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, and China Beach Campground.

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, one of the park’s most notable features, travels 47 kilometres through wildness along the southern Island’s western shore. You will not find this kind of unique trail anywhere on the campgrounds on Vancouver Island.

The Juan de Fuca Trail has four trailheads: Botanical Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek, and Juan de Fuca East (China Beach). This area also has a multitude of mountain biking trails to discover.

The westernmost point of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Botanical Beach is a well-liked day trip location for those interested in seeing this delicate and distinctive environment. Low tide is the greatest time to see wildlife since it allows people to stroll out across the flat sandstone and granite outcroppings to see tidal pools brimming with vibrant marine life.

2. Why You Should Choose Vancouver Island Campgrounds?

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world because of its mountain peaks, recreation sites, provincial parks, and stunning greenery in all four seasons.

Other characteristics that make this city appealing are the comparatively mild temperature of the Pacific Northwest and a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. Campgrounds on Vancouver Island have it all waiting for you: breathtaking scenery and attractions. Whistler, the Canadian Rockies, Victoria, Vancouver Island, and a plethora of year-round sea and land activities are all conveniently accessible.

It is mostly considered by the people who don’t like to go to crowded places and want to enjoy the serenity of mother nature in a peaceful environment. Also, it is preferred by trekkers as several different beautiful pathways take hikers along the beach, through lush green forests, or to the summit of a mountain with breathtaking viewpoints, ranging from simple day walks to strenuous multi-day excursions.

campgrounds Vancouver Island
By EB Adventure Photography from Shutterstock

3. Best Time for Camping on Vancouver Island

Camping here on campgrounds in Vancouver Island is spectacular, no matter which campground you go to, decide how you choose to go or when you choose to go. But after reaching the campsite, you will not want things like unpleasant weather or overcrowding to spoil your otherwise memorable camping experience. Hence, while planning your camping trip it is very important to take weather conditions and peak season into consideration.

Ideally in Canada or if you speak specifically about Vancouver Island, the best months to pay a visit to Vancouver Island along with British Columbia are March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather here is somewhat drier although you might get to see drizzle here and there. Summer is the best weather for camping here on Campgrounds Vancouver island as you also get to witness some of the popular local festivals here.

4. Essential Things To Carry While Going For Camping on Campgrounds Vancouver Island

Whenever one goes out for a camping vacation there is always a possibility of forgetting certain essential things which may result in compromising on your camping experience. This can be avoided by making sure your camping checklist is properly thought out. Here are some suggestions for those who always forget important things while going camping.

4.1. Checklist for Sheltering and Comfort

  • Bag for sleeping
  • Pillow
  • If tent camping, bring a sleeping mat or camp bed.
  • Picnic table and chairs
  • Tent pads
  • Mallet, extra pegs, and a puller
  • Batteries, a portable charger, and cords
  • Torch with headlamp
  • Paracord, gaffa tape, cable ties, and a sewing kit are all included in the tent repair kit
  • If an airbed is required, an air pump is required
  • Windbreak
canada camping
By Linus Strandholm from Shutterstock

4.2. To Keep Yourself Warm and Weatherproof

  • Waterproof jackets, pants, and umbrella
  • To sleep in, wear clean and dry clothing
  • Sunhat, gloves, and a woollen hat
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Socks and spare underwear
  • Materials that are lightweight and quick to dry
  • Sunglasses and sun protection
  • Stove or grill
  • Lighters or matches for fuel
  • Cooler or refrigerator
  • Kettle, pots, and pans
  • A cutting board
  • Mugs, bowls, and plates
  • Utensils for eating and cooking
  • Sponge and dishcloths
  • Cloth napkins
  • Picnic table
  • Cleaning agent and bowl
  • Garbage bags
  • Bottle opener and tin
  • Anything you often use for hygiene: Shampoo, conditioner, and soap
  • Any typical medications
  • Medical kit
  • Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Face masks appropriate for public spaces
  • Pest deterrent
  • Toothpaste and a toothbrush
  • Towels

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can you camp anywhere on Vancouver Island?

When on Vancouver Island, you may park practically any place you locate a pullout (that isn’t on private property) and camp for the night!

2. Can you camp for free on Vancouver Island?

Even though Vancouver Island offers a lot of free camping spaces, it’s not difficult to find spots that are less crowded. Two free camping spots worth visiting are Woss Lake Campground and Upper Campbell Reservoir Campground.

3. Where can I camp on the beach on Vancouver Island?

One of the most well-liked camping locations on Vancouver Island is Rathtrevor Beach where you can enjoy the stunning, expansive sandy beach.

Camping on campgrounds on Vancouver Island can be the remedy for your stressful life as it helped to freshen yourself up and can give you a different perspective of life and the world. But to make the camping experience great for you and the people coming after you leave, it is essential to take care of your camping place and surrounding nature. Avoid anything that will harm mother nature.

Being environmentally conscious is as important as communing with nature. The most essential thing you can do is depart with everything you brought, particularly your garbage. Carry an extra trash bag with you to gather any garbage left behind by careless campers.


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