Snowbirding on Vancouver Island

RVers Choose not to Travel South this Winter  

First published in my RV LivingColumn with RVwest

RV Park on Vancouver IslandThe conversations I hear regularly seem to be focused on people travelling south and when to leave, where to stay, how long to be away and what the cost is going to be? At the same time, as I look around Vancouver Island, I am noticing many licence plates from Alberta and Saskatchewan as well as cars from other parts of BC.

As one group are planning to leave the island to spend their winter or part of it in southern United States or Mexico, another group is arriving here with plans of enjoying Canada’s warmest winter destination and everything it has to offer.

The reasons for coming to Vancouver Island are as varied as the people themselves. It may be due to the high cost of medical insurance when travelling outside of Canada, high fuel costs, or just to avoid the harsh winter weather at home. It gives visitors an opportunity of enjoying everything the island has to offer without the busy crowds of summer months.


Reduced rates in RV Parks and campgrounds and increased choices of where to park without competing with hundreds of summer campers is a pleasant surprise. Choosing a large scenic site in a secluded beachfront park near Victoria or a beautiful forested site overlooking the waters near Nanaimo is just two of the hundreds of choices RVers have in the many year-round RV Parks and campgrounds.

There’s plenty to do here

Fishing and golfing are year-round activities and during the winter months are equally popular. With over 50 courses to choose from it’s difficult to decide whether to enjoy a game at one of the world-class championship courses or one where the majestic scenery makes it difficult to focus on the game itself.  Exceptional sport fishing is possible in the many fresh water lakes throughout the island and salt water fishing for salmon and halibut is exhilarating and addictive.

Underwater visibility is better during the winter months and very popular with those who enjoy scuba diving and exploring the captivating wrecks and remarkable marine life while staying warm and dry with a dry suit. Paddling the Inner Harbour of Victoria or skimming over the water in a kayak or canoe while exploring the shores around Newcastle Island in Nanaimo is a perfect way to spend the day.

Spend a magical day skiing at Mount Washington only 90 minutes away from Nanaimo with phenomenal snow conditions for everyone from the expert to the beginner.

Exploring the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, touring the wineries of the Cowichan Valley, attending live theatre in Chemainus or just savoring a creamy Nanaimo Bar in Nanaimo will keep everyone busy.

Although outdoor recreation and sports are extremely popular there’s plenty of interesting places to visit on a cool rainy day. Spending the day indoors exploring the art galleries and museums can be intriguing and entertaining. Discovering the charming little shops all over the island is an adventure and locating the variety of fantastic dining opportunities will give you something to look forward to.

Day trips

A possible storm watching adventure should entice everyone to travel north and west of Nanaimo through the stands of giant Douglas firs at Cathedral Grove to Tofino on the far west coast of Vancouver Island. Watching the powerful waves as they pound against the rugged coastline during the winter months is awe-inspiring and breathtaking.

Hop on a ferry as a foot passenger from Departure Bay in Nanaimo or Swartz Bay near Victoria and spend the day or weekend in Vancouver discovering and appreciating one of the most beautiful cities in Canada.

Visiting resident artists, picturesque little towns, hiking rugged trails and savoring pristine wilderness is a delight when exploring the many small islands along the coastline. They’re only a short ferry ride away.

Although the weather is temperate and the mildest in all of Canada there is a fair amount of rain and snow does fall but it doesn’t stay very long and it’s never too cold to enjoy everything exciting and unique the island has to offer. Spending the winter on Vancouver Island can be an unforgettable adventure and an experience you may want to repeat every year.

Happy travels,

Carol Ann Quibell


PS:  Please visit RVwest and read my RV Living column.

2 thoughts on “Snowbirding on Vancouver Island”

  1. Noreen

    We are among the blessed who do live on Vancouver Island! Yes, we enjoy a trip to the south once in a while, but it is just too perfect here in the summer to leave!

    1. I completely understand Noreen. I have spent a few years on the Island and it is one of my favourite places to be. Thanks for your message. Take care.

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