Camping in Vancouver Island

Mountains, beaches, and forests—Vancouver Island camping offers access to it all.

94% (5607 reviews)

Popular camping styles for Vancouver Island

2 top campgrounds in Vancouver Island

Beachside Meadow

8 sites · Tents200 acres · Tofino, Alberni Clayoquot
Learn more about this land:At the edge of an open meadow, surrounded by second-growth rainforest, each site has fresh water and is just steps from the beach.Bring your own tents! We also have a main lodge available for storing food away from wildlife, a hot tub, and hot outdoor showers. Kayaks, canoes, and small boats are available for guests to use. Accessible by boat or floatplane only.Campfires are permitted when there is no fire ban. Pets are welcome.
Potable water
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JX Campground (Ucluelet)

17 sites · RVs, Tents2 acres · Tofino, Alberni Clayoquot
Welcome to JX Campground! We are located just 10 minutes outside of beautiful Ucluelet and only 5 minutes away from the Pacific Rim National Park. We have 30amp-powered sites with water hookups as well as tenting sites. We also offer overnight parking for those sleeping in their cars. (Overnight parking is not suitable for RVs or vans longer than 15ft.) Looking for something to do? We share a property with other great businesses! -JX by Relic Surf Shop has rentals and can also book surf lessons for you! -TickinTBird rents Ebikes, the bike path here goes all the way into town -Big Wave food truck has breakfast and coffee Camp Surf Dine and Ride at JX Campground! **Please note that JX Campground is for short term camping only. Vehicles, tents, trailers must leave the property after a maximum stay of one week. Thank you for your understanding.
Potable water
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Value Prop
Value Prop

Camping in Vancouver Island guide

Vancouver island campers will find some of western Canada’s best natural beauty right outside their tent flap, all set in a compact-enough size for an action-packed trip with Victoria serving as a convenient city hub. Options range from rugged wilderness campsites set amid remote beaches to family-friendly camping spots surrounded by ancient rainforest, and no matter when you set out, temperatures are generally mild enough for year-round camping. Outdoor activities on the island are seemingly endless too—think hiking, fishing, kayaking, and keeping an eye out for wildlife such as bears, whales, and elk. Explore this wild part of British Columbia with a tent campsite, RV stay, or a glamping getaway.

Where to Go

Greater Victoria

Yes, summer afternoons in Victoria can be a bit of a mob scene with cruise ship tourists scurrying to score their bucket list experiences, such as high tea at the Empress Hotel and wandering Butchart Gardens. But there’s so much more to the South Island (as locals call it), with dozens of provincial and regional parks to explore and unwind in. Can’t-miss adventures include the flat and smooth Lochside and Galloping Goose bike routes, the Sooke Potholes swimming hole, and the endless Pacific Ocean vistas along Highway 14 to Port Renfrew. Two provincial park campgrounds and numerous private RV parks sit within an hour of downtown.

Tofino and the Pacific Rim

How can a town that’s literally at the edge of North America (truly the end of the road) be so cool? In Tofino, explore the bold First Nations artwork of the Vickers Gallery, then rent surfboards at any of the funky surf shacks lining Highway 4 into town. Campers need reservations at Pacific Rim National Park in the summer months, yet there are a half-dozen private campgrounds that handle the overflow. Regardless of the weather, hikers will want to see Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail, and if you're looking to splurge on your next camping trip, book a whale watching excursion (with guaranteed sightings!), a zodiac trip to Hot Springs Cove, or an aerial floatplane tour around the Tofino.

Gulf Islands National Park

The dozens of Gulf Islands are like Vancouver Island in miniature—they’re rugged, picturesque places with quiet country roads and hidden camping gems. Visit farmer’s markets, dine at nautically-themed pubs and restaurants, and walk among the tangled arbutus trees that stand sentinel over precipitous limestone cliffs.

Mid-Vancouver Island

Two-and-a-half hours north of Victoria, Nanaimo is a major port of arrival and departure for BC Ferries’ routes connecting Vancouver city to Vancouver Island. This mid-Island region extends north to Comox and Courtenay along the island's sheltered, sunny eastern coastline, providing campers every possible kind of adventure. Sea kayaking, canoeing, sand-castle building, mountain biking, golf, and, of course, hiking and biking can be enjoyed on an almost year-round basis. Meanwhile, small ferries chug over to tiny west coast island communities. Watch for breaching and spy hopping orcas, plus bald eagles soaring overhead.

North Island

Continuing north of Campbell River (the "salmon fishing capital of the world"), forestry roads leading into the wilderness should be treated with caution, as massive logging trucks are still active in the area. The rewards for the journey, however, are well worth it, as North Island camping on remote mountain lakes means you’re unlikely to find anyone else around. Campers making the lengthy trip to Cape Scott Provincial Park at the western tip of Vancouver Island can set up their tent right on the beach for ocean views (stock up on supplies at Port Hardy or Port McNeill). To extend your adventure, ferries for Alaska via the Inside Passage depart from Port Hardy, the largest town in the region.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are several locations on Vancouver Island where you can camp for free. These are typically known as "recreation sites" and offer rustic, first-come, first-served camping. Some popular free camping spots on Vancouver Island include:

  • Willis Point Recreation Site
  • Little Bear Bay Recreation Site
  • Pyramid Creek Recreation Site
  • Menzies Main Recreation Site

Please note that these sites are usually more basic and may not have all the amenities you would find at paid campgrounds. Always practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment when camping in these locations.

There are several beaches on Vancouver Island where you can camp. Some popular options include:

Please note that some of these campgrounds may require reservations, and availability can be limited during peak seasons. It's always a good idea to get in touch for the most up-to-date information on fees, rules, and reservation requirements.

Camping costs on Vancouver Island can vary depending on the type of campground, location, and amenities. On average, expect to pay between CAD 15 to CAD 45 per night for a basic tent or RV site at a provincial park or private campground. Prices can be higher for campgrounds with more amenities or for glamping options. Remember that reservation fees and additional vehicle fees may apply in some campgrounds.

To camp on Vancouver Island, follow these steps:

  1. Choose your campsite: Vancouver Island offers a variety of camping options, including provincial parks, private campgrounds, and recreational sites. Research and select a campsite that suits your preferences and needs. Some popular options include Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, MacMillan Provincial Park, and Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.
  2. Make a reservation: If you're planning to stay at a provincial park or private campground, it's a good idea to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak season (May to September). You can book provincial park campsites through Discover Camping. For private campgrounds, visit their individual websites for reservation information.
  3. Prepare your gear: Gather all the necessary camping equipment, such as a tent, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, and clothing suitable for the weather conditions. Don't forget essentials like food, water, and a first aid kit.
  4. Travel to Vancouver Island: You can reach Vancouver Island by ferry from the mainland (Vancouver or Seattle) or by plane. Once on the island, rent a car or use public transportation to reach your chosen campsite.
  5. Set up camp: Upon arriving at your campsite, set up your tent and camping area. Be sure to follow any posted rules and guidelines for the specific campground or park.
  6. Enjoy your stay: Explore the beautiful surroundings, engage in outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or kayaking, and enjoy the tranquility of the island.
  7. Practice Leave No Trace principles: When it's time to leave, clean up your campsite and pack out all trash. Leave the area as you found it, respecting the environment and wildlife.

For more information about camping on Vancouver Island, visit Hipcamp.

While wild camping is generally not allowed in most provincial parks on Vancouver Island, there are some opportunities for backcountry camping in designated campsites with proper permits and permissions. Some popular areas for backcountry camping on Vancouver Island include Strathcona Provincial Park, Cape Scott Provincial Park, and the West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It is essential to obtain the necessary permits, follow Leave No Trace principles, and respect the environment and wildlife.

Wild camping may be allowed on certain Crown land with permission. For more information about camping on Vancouver Island, visit the BC Parks website and the BC Recreation Sites and Trails website.

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