best campsites in vancouver island
Last Updated: February 23, 2021

Best Campsites On Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island sits just off the west coast of British Columbia in Canada and definitely is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for an unforgettable camping adventure. You’ll have access to endless hikes, stunning natural surroundings, beaches to spend the day at, an ocean to kitesurf on and swim in, plus stunning views of mountains dropping into the sea… what more could you possibly ask for?

Best Campsites On Vancouver Island

But, what truly makes a good camping holiday, bar the destination itself? It’s the campsite you stay at of course! But, one thing Vancouver Island isn’t short of is campsites and, with so many to choose from, it can be a little tricky to find the right one for you. Luckily, we have come up with the best campsites on Vancouver Island, so you can make sure you get the best out of your camping vacation – enjoy!

Buttle Lake Campsite

Location: From the website: ‘The main access to Strathcona Park is via Highway 28, which connects with Gold River on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Follow Hwy 19 north past Courtenay to Campbell River, then follow Hwy 28 west for 48 km. Hwy 28 passes through the northern section of the park and provides access to Buttle Lake’

Email: parkinfo@43k.ca

Open:  

Main camping season: April 1 – October 31st

Reservable dates: May 8th to September 6th

Closed: November 1st to March 31st

Price: 

$20 per party/night frontcountry camping

$10 per party/night winter frontcountry camping

(a party is limited to 8 people and one vehicle; see here for full details)

Buttle Lake Campsite makes the perfect basecamp to explore the mighty Strathcona Park, British Columbia’s oldest provincial park (designated in 1911). The park is filled with snowcapped mountains and captivates visitors from around the world with its raw, rugged beauty. It also features tonnes of hiking routes that range from the casual to the more adventurous, and the Buttle Lake area is particularly mesmerizing thanks to its surrounding greenery and reflections of the mountains painted in the turquoise waters.

This campsite is also extremely popular among climbers, anglers (particularly ones seeking to catch cutthroat and rainbow trout), cyclists, and canoers – so you can be sure to keep the full family entertained. If you’re interested, you’ll have to

The Driftwood Bay Group Site features wheelchair-friendly pit toilets, a picnic shelter, and designated rings where you can start up a fire, but you’ll need to reserve your spot in advance. If it’s fully booked, you could always check out the nearby (35 km away) Ralph River Campsite instead, which again makes a great campsite from which to explore the park.

Newcastle Island Campsite 

Address: Saytshun (Newcastle Island) Marine Park

Phone: 250-802-0255

Open: See here for the ferry schedule.

Price: 

Individual campsites: $18 per night plus $1 per person
Group campsites:
Youth (6-15 yrs) Group:
$50 / per night plus $1/per person; 5yrs and under are free
Regular Group:
Site 1/2/3 – $80/per night (plus $5/adult and $1/child)
Site 4/5 – $50/per night (plus $5/adult and $1/child)

For most people, the thought of camping on Vancouver Island conjures up images of watching the sun go down from a cozy oceanside campsite. Newcastle Island Campsite is located within the Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park (known as Saysutshun by the First Nation people), which can be accessed via a short ferry ride from Nanaimo, and it won’t disappoint those of you seeking a classic oceanside camping experience.

There are 18 ‘walk-in’ campsites to chose from – and when we say walk-in, we don’t mean that they don’t take reservations (actually, bookings are strongly recommended), we mean that you literally have to walk there… there are no cars on the island, so make sure that you can carry your luggage for at least a quarter of an hour. As well as the watery spots, there are some set further back within the trees, offering more shade and wind shelter. For those of you camping in large groups, there are also five group campsites that can accommodate up to 50 campers.

The campsite provides water, flush and pit toilets plus food security boxes to make sure those pesky raccoons don’t run off with your dinner! Camping with the ocean on your doorstep makes for a fantastic playground – the beaches are hikable and bikable, there are tidal pools to investigate, and swimming is idyllic. There are also organized experiences you can book via campsite staff, such as walking tours that will immerse you in local history and nature, or traditional salmon BBQs.

Best Campsites On Vancouver Island

Wya Point Campsite 

Address: 2695 Tofino Ucluelet Hwy, Ucluelet, BC V0R 3A0

Phone: N/A

Email: wyacamping@gmail.com

Open: See the online booking form for availability

Wya Point Campsite is unique in that it offers a place to get away from the crowds, yet you’ll be looked after very well during your stay – it really is tranquil camping made easy. It’s located not far from central Tofino on a gorgeous quiet beach. It’s pet-friendly, and there are fire pits (and wood), picnic tables, and communal washing areas with hot water (for you and the dishes) available.

Unlike Newcastle Island Campsite, you can drive right to most of the sites, and you can take your pick of ocean or forest camping spots, although some of the posts right by the ocean do require a short walk from your parking spot.

As well as the usual swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking activities, there are tonnes of other activities in the Ucluelet District, such as some of Canada’s best surfing spots and a super relaxing hot springs cove that can be accessed via an hour-long water taxi journey from Tofino. In a way this campsite offers the best of both worlds, you can get away from the hustle and bustle and unwind in nature, yet you aren’t far from ordinary life if you want to pop out for a day trip somewhere – perfect.

China Beach Campsite 

Location: China Beach campground is next to Highway 14 (east of the China Beach day-use area), 35 km west of Sooke and 36 km east of Port Renfrew (see here for a map)

Email: parkinfo@43k.ca 

Open:  May 15th to September 30

Price: 

$20 per party/night frontcountry camping

$10 per party/night winter frontcountry camping

(a party is limited to 8 people and one vehicle; see here for full details)

The China Beach Campsite forms one of four main areas of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, located on the west of Vancouver Island’s south coast. The park, in general, is known for hiking (surprise surprise) as well as being excellent for wildlife spotting, and China Beach makes for the perfect base camp from which to explore the park. In fact, you can join one of the most famous hiking routes in the area, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, directly via Juan de Fuca East at China Beach. The China Beach ‘day use’ area is family-friendly and is the perfect place to head with a picnic and to spend away a day frolicking in the water and playing on the sand.

One of the best things about this area, however, is that during fall and spring you have the chance to glimpse mighty grey whales on their migratory route just off the shoreline – it’s definitely worth timing your trip with this if you can. You also aren’t far from the Botanical Beach, which is another great spot for wildlife, especially at low tide when you can explore all the creatures hiding in the rock pools.

The campsite itself has 78 drive-in spots to offer, and it operates on both a booking and first-come-first-serve basis (we recommend booking if you don’t want to be disappointed). The site features pit toilets and water taps, but be warned that this isn’t luxury camping – there are no showers and black bears and cougars could be in the area, so please don’t take any animals with you!

Best Campsites On Vancouver Island

Green Point Campsite 

Location: 12 km north of the Ucluelet-Tofino junction on highway 4, midway between Ucluelet and Tofino

Phone: +1 (877) 737 3783

Email: pc.pacrim.info.pc@canada.ca

Open:  May 1st to October 12th; check out the website for current opening times (which may be affected due to corona)

Price: Subject to change; check out the website for current fees

Like the Newcastle Island Campsite, the Green Point Campsite is situated not far from Tofino. Green Point, however, is unique in that it’s the only place to camp that’s actually within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

The campsite joins long beach via a short trail, and Long Beach and many of the surrounding beaches are some of Canada’s top surf sites. Surfing is possible all year round, but make sure you have a wetsuit with you as things get pretty frosty in the winter (and even in the summer). If you need to remind yourself of surfing safety and etiquette, check out this page. This area of Vancouver Island is also famed for its 75-km West Coast Trail, which is legendary among avid hikers. It certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, and you’ll have to be prepared to climb, wade, and trudge your way along it, but it certainly is one rewarding experience that takes you to some incredibly scenic spots.

The campsite itself has over 90 drive-in sites and 20 walk-in sites, and bookings can be made via the phone or website. There are flushing toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, and food storage boxes, so you can really settle in and rejuvenate ready for your explorations into the wilderness.

Living Forest Oceanside Campsite

Address: 6 Maki Road Nanaimo, BC Canada V9R 6N7

Phone: 1 (250) 755 1755

Open: All Year

Price: See here for the latest prices

The Living Forest Oceanside Campsite is definitely one of the easiest places to camp in Vancouver Island. This huge campsite offers more than 300 sites and is open to both vehicle- and tent-based campers. It’s highly organized and is more of a resort than a campsite, so you’ll have no shortage of fun activities such as volleyball and other games right on your doorstep to keep you entertained. Further afield are the Newcastle Island Marine Park (well worth a visit), some great fishing spots, and even a few golf courses. People at the camp will be more than happy to hook you up with whale-watching tours too, which is a ‘must-do’ if you’re there in the right season.

Just five minutes drive from Nanaimo, you won’t feel lost in the wilderness at this campsite – there are hot showers and even WiFi service available. If you like being in the great outdoors, but don’t like all the hardships that can come with camping, then you’ll love camping here.

Best Campsites On Vancouver Island

Jordan River Regional Park Campsite 

Address: BC-14, Juan de Fuca, BC, Canada

Phone: +1 250 360 3000

Open: All Year

Price: $15 June to October, $10 November to May (cash only)

And, finally, any kiteboarders out there are going to love spending a few nights at the Jordan River Regional Park Campsite. Situated just off the Juan de Fuca Strait, just over an hour’s drive from Vicotria, its 3.5 km of pebbled shoreline attracts kiters from all around the world. On top of that, there are heaps of awesome hiking routes nearby that cater to all ages and abilities. It’s also a great place to simply kick-back and hang out, taking in the beautiful scenery of Sandcut Beach.

The campsite itself is set in a 187 hectare mixed coastal forest and has both walk-in and drive-in sites available (there’s no reservations though – it operates on a strictly first-come-first-serve basis only). You’ll get the pleasure of camping right by the water, and there are fire rings, picnic tables, and drinking water outlets available (pit toilets only).

Summing Up

So, there you have it, the best places to camp on Vancouver Island. As we’ve seen, there really is something for everyone – whether you’re an avid hiker, love fishing, want to catch some waves, or are simply looking for some secluded beaches to swim in, there’s a campsite with your name on it. No matter which campsite you go for in the end, camping on Vancouver Island truly is a unique experience. Stepping out of your tent in the morning and breathing in that glorious fresh air while gazing over ocean views with snowcapped mountains in the background really is something you’ll remember forever.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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