Navigation Menu

About Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Contour MapVancouver Island, located in British Columbia, Canada, is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand. While the city of Vancouver stands on the North American mainland, Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is located on the island.

The island was first explored by Europeans when British and Spanish expeditions arrived in the late 18th century. It was originally named Quadra’s and Vancouver’s Island in commemoration of the friendly negotiations held by Spanish commander of the Nootka Sound settlement, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, and by British naval captain George Vancouver in Nootka Sound in 1792, to find a solution to the Nootka Crisis. Quadra’s name was eventually dropped and it has since been known solely as Vancouver Island. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794.

BC Ferry Vancouver Island

BC Ferry Vancouver Island

Along with most of the southern Gulf Islands, plus various minor islands offshore from its southern end, the southern part of Vancouver Island is the only part of British Columbia (and of Western Canada) that lies south of the 49th Parallel. The area has one of the warmest climates in Canada and since the mid-1990s has been mild enough in a few areas to grow subtropical Mediterranean crops such as olives and lemons.

French Beach Vancouver Island

French Beach Vancouver Island

The island is 460 kilometres (290 mi) in length, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in width at its widest point, and 32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi) in area. It is the largest island on the West Coast of North America, the world’s 43rd largest island, Canada’s 11th largest island, and Canada’s second most populous island after the Island of Montreal. The Canada 2011 Census recorded a population of 759,366. Nearly half of that figure (344,630) live in Greater Victoria. Other notable cities and towns on Vancouver Island include Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay, and Campbell River.

Vancouver Island’s Ecosystems

Vancouver Island is home to a large selection of ecosystems for a landmass its’ size. These different biomes create a diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Residents and tourists explore this vast playground during all seasons, rain or shine.

Flag of Vancouver Island

  • Temperate Rainforests
  • Marshes and Meadows
  • Tidal Beaches and Oceans
  • Mountains and Logging Roads
  • Back Country Trails
  • Rivers and Lakes

The coastal region has a varied climate that allows for diverse activities no matter the season. Vancouver Island enjoys mild weather along the south coast, providing a calm atmosphere for tourists and residents alike. Adventure seekers looking to experience more extreme activities should look inland and to the north.