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  • Fresh Air - Vancouver Island's Gem

    Posted by Shawna Quinn March 19, 2014 - 1,679 views - 0 comments - 6 likes - #adventure  #outdoors  #fresh air  #island  #family activities  #free activites  #ecotravel 

    Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Can you feel it?


    Chances are you aren't outside while reading this, and it's even less likely that you are deep in the recesses of the coastal rainforest or sprawled out on a beach along the Canadian Pacific. If you were, you would have a difficult time ignoring it:  fresh, clean, invigorating island air. It's intoxicating, and it's the shining star of Vancouver Island's cast of captivating natural characteristics.


    For those of us lucky enough to live here it’s something we often take for granted. But having myself spent several years living overseas in places with less than ideal air quality, it’s impossible not to notice it. Returning home was, well, a breath of fresh air. And everyday I want to drink it in like nectar.


    And here’s the kicker for all those would-be Vancouver Island visitors. When you come, you can enjoy the air for FREE. That’s right. No fine print. Suck in as much as your lungs can carry. No strings attached.


    Although there are countless options for enjoying the island’s activities at a fee (and likely worth every penny), here are some of my favorite options without having to pull out the pocketbook.




    Tidal Pool Exploration – There are few things more magical than watching curious creatures swim, sway, and scramble in tiny pools along the island’s shores. Places like Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park are home to countless species of anemones, sea stars, crabs, barnacles, snails, and other amazing animals. Just be careful where you step!


    Wild Flower Identification – A quick peek online for local flora (I usually choose a handful of seasonal plants whose pictures attract me) and some jot notes and I’m ready for a scavenger hunt! With a notebook and camera, I love to investigate the landscape and try to meet "the locals" up close and personal, taking field notes along the way. This is especially exciting with children along for the adventure.


    Sea Swimming – Yes, it’s cold. Yes, crazy locals surf in the icy swells right through the winter. But it is an amazingly energizing experience to jump into the salty sea at any time of the year (though it does earn you extra points if it’s a Polar Bear swim).


    Whale Watching – from the Shore – If you are going to visit the island, a whale watching tour is a must-do, but it isn’t the only way to spot a dorsal fin. If you time it right you may see a pod of humpbacks, viewed from the beach, surfacing along their migration route. It’s a treat worth sitting in the sun and waiting for. Mind you, sitting in the sun on an island beach ain’t bad in and of itself.


    Old Growth Forest Hikes – Vancouver Island is home to some of North America’s oldest and tallest trees. Wandering through misty wilderness under branches dripping with lush moss is a magical way to lose oneself in an afternoon. Cathedral Grove is a personal favourite.


    What are your favourite ways to enjoy the great outdoors?