Editorial Written by Kristen Ross
Destination: Vancouver Island
Welcome to a place where rocky terrain meets the stark and dramatic beauty of wind-swept beaches. A place where you’re as likely to while away a Saturday afternoon huddled by the fireplace of a local free-trade coffee shop as you are climbing a mountain or watching a symphony. Yet these are just a handful of reasons that people from all over the country are choosing to make Vancouver Island their home.
Although many people initially look into relocating to the island in an effort to escape bone-chilling winters, they soon find that the temperate climate is just one element of what makes life on the island so special. While it’s true that in BC it generally only snows in all the right places, what really works to enhance the quality of life is the more leisurely pace. Unlike the rat race of the big cities, people here stop to smell the roses. That’s a good thing too, because there is so much on offer one could spend a lifetime exploring it.
It would be impossible to talk about Vancouver Island without the obvious references to its abundant nature. Whether it’s a home on the coastal region or further in the interior, nature can be found, quite literally, at one’s doorstep. Hundreds of bike and walking trails thread through the island and are usually no more than a few minutes away from even the most urban locations. There is hiking, surfing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing – the list reads like an impressive resume – and weekend getaways are practically a prerequisite for island life. Some of the more popular destinations include the oyster-hued beaches of Tofino where storm watching takes on new meaning, and Ucluelet Peninsula where whale watching draws those wishing to observe the magnificent Orcas (Killer Whales). Here, accessibility affords both a lifestyle and quality of life almost impossible to beat.
In addition to its remarkable nature, Vancouver Island boasts a thriving arts and culture scene. It’s possible that the sizeable population of retirees has helped create a large demand for cultural activities; but whatever the reason, anyone thinking of spending retirement here will have no shortage of things to see and do. Spend an afternoon winding your way through the Royal BC Museum (recently knighted best in Canada by Trip Advisor,) attend a special event at the botanical gardens, or take in a live theatre show or symphony; whatever your preference may be, there are a bevy of choices year round.
For those who love the tasty side of life, the local food and wine scene shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The island swells with organic produce markets, bakeries, funky microbreweries and a diverse restaurant scene that will appease even the most demanding foodies. Wineries round out the offerings with delicious tasting menus year-round.
Whether you’re looking for a safe place to raise a family, an escape from hectic city life or easy access to nature, you will find it here. On a recent kayaking trip to Patagonia, I asked our guide what was his favorite spot on earth (Note: this is a man who has spent the better part of twenty years paddling the world’s most pristine waters). “Vancouver Island!” he exclaimed, “I kayaked beside a family of Orcas; it was the best experience of my life.”