Do you need any ideas for travelling to Vancouver Island with toddlers?
I love documenting our trips so I can look back on the memories and in the process I hope if you come across this post you find some ideas for how to travel on Vancouver Island with toddlers. We made this trip with our boy/girl twins after they had just turned 3 years old.
The twins were born in Nanaimo and we lived in Port Alberni for just a little over a year so we haven’t been back to the island since we left at the end of March 2021. I was really excited to make this trip with them so we could show our babes the rainforest terrain, the mountains and the ocean. I planned out 3 different locations on the island and 3 different Airbnbs. Here are the details of the trip, where we stayed, where we ate and the activities we did each day.
Flying By Plane With Toddlers
I had everything planned out to a T for the flight. We packed backpacks for the twins with a hammock for the plane seat, a busy book (Pink for Alora and Blue for Ryland), a tablet (Amazon Fire 7), headphones, a colouring book, a maze book, and crayons.
I also bought the twins these Bento boxes off of Amazon (I got the Ocean Blue for Ryland and the Coral Pink for Alora) and filled them with snacks (Lentil crisps + fresh fruit), we also packed ziplock bags of fruit bars and pouches from Costco.
And while Ryland thrived watching shows on his tablet or a movie on the airplane, I went through EVERYTHING in Alora’s bag to keep her entertained. That girl is exactly like me and does not like sitting still! Oh, and we ended up returning the hammocks when we got home as neither kid wanted to use them!
We landed in Victoria on a Friday afternoon, picked up our rental car and then drove south to Sooke, BC. We picked up groceries so we could make breakfast at our Airbnb and then drove to our rental to settle in. With the time difference, it was hard to do anything that day so we kept the babes up until we made dinner and then got them settled to go to sleep.
Our Airbnb in Jordan River
I found an amazing Airbnb in Capital, BC (Jordan River) right on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We had insane views of the ocean and mountains across the way in the US from the kitchen, dining room, living room and upstairs loft.
While we had a few annoyances like the dishwasher and one of the stove burners not working and a mouse living in the house it really was an amazing place to stay. Super private and quiet and clean inside.
Activities in Jordan River
Day 1: On our first morning, the twins woke up super early (I’m talking 3 am) due to still being on East Coast time and after trying to get them to stay in bed we gave up at 5 am and got them up and made breakfast. I bought eggs, bacon and gluten-free toast and then we bought oat milk and frozen fruit for smoothies. The only thing I regret not packing is protein powder as our babes thrive when they’ve had ample protein in the morning. After breakfast, we took the stairs down to the beach. There was one other lone soul taking landscape pictures of the insane scenery but otherwise, we had the beach all to ourselves.
Later that morning we drove to Sandcut Beach to see the waterfall. While it wasn’t super impressive in the middle of the summer still gorgeous none the less. I will also take super cool sun shots through the morning clouds any day of the week.
We ended up climbing up the rocks where the waterfall runs down and exploring, Alora fell in the water so after a change of clothes we hopped back down to the beach. Found a huge fallen tree and taught the twins how to carefully climb down to the end and back.
We stopped at Cold Shoulder Cafe for lunch, which was just around the corner from our Airbnb. A great place to grab quick eats and pastries. The coffee wasn’t too shabby either 🙂
After putting the twins down for a nap, we grabbed pizza at Stoked Pizzeria and drove to China Beach to eat dinner on the beach 🙂
Day 2: We finally got the twins on West Coast time so after a normal wake-up hour and breakfast, we packed everyone in the car and drove up the coast towards Port Renfrew. We spent the morning exploring Botanical Beach and all the tide pools full of crabs and tiny fish. I even spied some sea lions just off the beach on a rocky outcropping but couldn’t get a good shot due to the fog and clouds.
We stopped for lunch at Coastal Kitchen Cafe and then headed back to the Airbnb for the twins’ nap. The kids ended up falling asleep in the car so we drove along the coast for an hour and a half, and stopped at Stoked Pizzaria again to grab dinner. We ate the pizza in the parking lot and then drove to Mystic Beach to see if we could do the hike. The kids were absolutely troopers. We hiked a total of 10 km this day and only had to piggyback them out the last 2 km. AND we only did it so we could make it home for bedtime, and avoid epic meltdowns. Otherwise, they could’ve hiked the last bit out themselves.
Day 3: On our last day in Jordan River, we packed up and grabbed breakfast at Shirley Delicious on our way out of town and explored the Victoria Butterfly Gardens before heading up the coast to the Nanaimo area.
Nanaimo / Lantville / Nanoose Bay
We chose to stay for the week up near the Nanaimo area. I had made friends with one of our maternity & newborn photographers, so we stayed close to her house so we could hang out a few times during the week. My heart is full of key time on the east coast of the island, with a dear friend and her girls and more exploring of the island with the babes.
Our Lantzville Airbnb
I outdid myself with the Airbnb I booked here. The house is absolutely gorgeous, and the view is incredible. This is a dream house to live in and the view made me never want to leave. I even asked our hosts to contact us first if they ever decided to sell!
The house had 3 bedrooms upstairs (1 King, 1 with 3 Single Beds and 1 with 1 Single Bed) and then 1 bedroom downstairs with a Queen). There was even an epic playroom in the basement complete with a ton of toys and swings. Our twins really didn’t want to leave this Airbnb. Oh, and there was a sandpit out on the patio veranda with a large digger for them to try out.
Activities Around Nanaimo
Day 5: We explored Englishman River Falls and then had a beach date with Lacey and her girls in the afternoon with a pizza dinner back at their house.
Day 6: I looked online to find other waterfall hikes and found this one for Lower Shooting Stars Falls. However, in the summer it’s barely there so it wasn’t an impressive hike at all. The only bonus is the twins learned to walk carefully on rocks 🙂
We drove into Nanoose Bay to explore and stopped at the Nanoose Bay Cafe for a mid-morning snack. Eating while looking out on the bay wasn’t so bad 🙂
That evening the twins got to stay up late for a family photoshoot. We choose to do it where we took maternity photos with the babes still in my belly. So that was a special place for us to visit again.
Ucluelet & Tofino
Day 7: We left Lantzville early so we could get through the Cameron Lake closure early. This got us into Port Alberni quite early. We grabbed coffee and breakfast from Wildflower Bakeshop & Cafe. Then we drove by our old neighbourhood, showed the babes where we lived and knocked on a neighbour’s door to say hi. We ended up sitting in their backyard chatting and catching up. We headed over to Porto Taco for lunch. Then Coombs Country Candy for gelato (my favourite gelato of all time!) and then off to Ucluelet for the weekend.
Our Ucluelet AirBnB
Our Airbnb here was ok but not as spectacular as our last two. It’s hard to find something nice in Tofino or Ucluelet without paying with an arm and a leg.
Activities Around Ucluelet / Tofino
Once we got all settled into the Airbnb we drove into Tofino to do some shopping. We grabbed dinner at Shed. I really wanted to eat on the beach so we took our meals over to Chestermans beach. However, the hornets were pretty bad and after I got stung on my finger we headed out.
We decided to explore around the Amphitrite Lighthouse which was just near our rental before bedtime.
Day 8: We got up early and headed into Tofino for coffee at Rhino Coffee, did some more shopping around town (I got a sweater and my husband got a poncho) and then we headed out for a short hike at the Rainforest Trail.
We headed over to Tacofino for lunch. And even though we were one of the first people in line, it took over an hour to get tacos. So we wasted a lot of time there. As we were driving back to Ucluelet for naps, the twins fell asleep. So we didn’t manage to get full naps when we got back to the rental.
Everyone was a bit frantic without naps. As we were packing up to head to Terrace Beach I accidentally closed the front door on Alora’s finger. After many tears and screams and cuddles I ended up taking Ryland down to the beach while Dad consoled Alora. Dad and Alora met up with us a bit later. Our postpartum doula (who took the most amazing care of me and the twins) was also in town so she popped down to the beach for a quick hi! Ps. Alora’s finger is completely fine and was barely bruised the next day. We were extremely lucky!
Day 9: Our flight home out of the Nanaimo airport was at 10 am. We left the Airbnb before the sun was up so we could get through the Cameron Lake closure. We gave ourselves enough time to fill up the rental car with gas and drop it off at the airport.
It was the most perfect trip. I’m so proud of how we planned it and how we adapted as things changed on us 🙂