Looking to learn about road trips on Vancouver Island? Below we’ve featured four of the must-drive Vancouver Island road trips. Explore routes and road trip inspiration, plan your trek, and learn more about driving on Vancouver Island. Want a copy to take with you on the road? Download our road trip map.
1. Pacific Marine Circle Route
South Vancouver Island Road Trip
Go full circle on Southern Vancouver Island with the Pacific Marine Circle Route. A road with varied landscapes, stops, and views, the loop is a popular trek amongst driving fiends. The total drive clocks in at 289 km or 179 miles. With the beach pull outs, easy access cafes, and soaring ocean views, the Pacific Marine Circle Route ranks high amongst drivers. It’s also a thrilling drive—winding roads and steep hills will test your handling skills.
You can start at any of the cities along the eastern side, and take the route in either direction, but we suggest coming over through Swartz Bay, settling into the Vancouver Island vibe in Victoria for a day, then hitting the road en route to Port Renfrew.
Both Victoria and Sooke are great places to stock up on supplies before the rest of the trip. Stores become scarce the further west you head, and you don’t want to find yourself without a picnic to enjoy on the beaches.
Victoria to Port Renfrew
From Victoria, you can go as fast or as slow as you’d like: meander through the winding roads into Sooke (it’s only about a 45-minute drive from Victoria), book in at an inlet hotel, and wind down for the evening and get your supplies. Or, make this portion of the road trip into a day trip, stopping in at Sooke and then continuing on to Shirley Delicious for lunch before hitting the beaches along the Juan De Fuca Trail.
If you opt to make the Victoria to Port Renfrew leg a day trip, the travel time is about 2.5 hours, plus time to make the must-see pit stops. The distance from Sooke to Port Renfrew is about an hour and a half.
As you near the end of this leg, you’ll be ready for Port Renfrew, where the food is fresh and the drinks cold. Stay at Wild Renfrew, where the new adventure centre is worth at least one day on your itinerary, if not more. In the evening, stoke a fire outdoors while you map out the next day’s drive.
Port Renfrew to the Cowichan Valley
The Port Renfrew to Cowichan route is where you really get to test your wilderness mettle. The road in this section is a former logging route, recently paved over to encourage Vancouver Island visitors to venture through the threading road surrounded by tall trees and rushing waterfalls. A note of caution: there’s no cell service along this portion of the route.
Loop your way around through the Cowichan Valley stopping in at towns like Chemainus to see their world-famous murals or picking up souvenirs at artisans markets, eventually making your way back to Victoria.