A rare combination of rural charm and elegant sophistication, the South Island region of Vancouver Island is home to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia.
South Vancouver Island incorporates the Saanich Peninsula, which extends north of Victoria to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (route to Vancouver), and the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, which stretches from Victoria to Port Renfrew on the west coast.
The beautiful rolling landscape of the Saanich Peninsula is dotted with farms, communities, parks, forests, lakes, and ocean inlets. Two main routes run between Sidney and Greater Victoria: Highway 17, known as the Pat Bay Highway, and Highway 17A, also called West Saanich Road. Highway 17 is the most direct route to Victoria, while Highway 17A offers a more relaxed drive through the scenic rural areas of the Saanich Peninsula. Both routes are wonderfully scenic and lead to the Peninsula’s many delightful sights and attractions.
At the northern end of Saanich Peninsula is Sidney, a book and boating town popular with boaters from all over the Pacific Northwest who have been docking at Sidney’s marinas year after year. Sunny Sidney offers scenic seaside walks, beautiful water views, enticing attractions and activities, plenty of great shops and restaurants, and friendly locals.
Travelling west out of Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway and the West Coast Highway 14, visitors will pass through Sooke, a bustling town known for its community spirit and pride, and for exceptional outdoor adventure experiences. Those looking for relaxation will find plenty of beaches and parks to explore, while the more energetic can choose from golfing, cycling, fresh and saltwater fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and much more.
The West Coast Road ends at the quaint village of Port Renfrew, known for fresh and saltwater fishing, canoeing in the San Juan River, and dense forests of massive trees. Port Renfrew also marks the southern end of the West Coast Trail. The friendly local pubs and inns are havens for hikers from all over the world embarking on or completing their treks on the West Coast Trail or the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
North of Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway travellers will cross the Malahat (summit 356 metres/1,156 feet) with splendid views of Saanich Inlet, the Saanich Peninsula and the BC Gulf Islands. Malahat Drive climbs through imposing mature forests and over rugged mountainside before dropping down into the Cowichan Valley.
The following communities are located in the South Island region. Click on a name for detailed information on that community or area.
Location: As the name suggests, the South Island region is located on the southern end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, bordered to the south and west by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Vancouver Island from the United States of America (Washington State). To the east of the South Island region lie the San Juan Islands of Washington (USA) and the BC Gulf Islands, which lie in the Strait of Georgia that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland of BC and Washington.
Southern Vancouver Island is served by air links through Victoria International Airport (YYJ), and by BC Ferries from Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal (Vancouver) on the mainland. These ferries are huge, with a capacity of approximately 450 vehicles and over 2,000 passengers – getting here is half the fun! Various other ferries connect with Anacortes, Bellingham, Port Angeles, and Seattle in Washington.