Thursday night, when I was just about to leave the studio in Steveston, I received a notification on Twitter from BCFerries with some current offers. I usually don’t really pay attention to them but this time, I thought it would be fun to book a trip on Vancouver Island. Having no shoot the next days, I just went straight to the booking page and took a round-trip ticket for the ferry between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo.  

Once at home, I quickly went through the list of available Airbnb on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. We pack few things in our bags, and few hours later, we were waiting in line for the 6:30AM ferry at Horseshoe Bay. 

Day 1

I always enjoyed travelling by sea. As soon as the announcement was made, we jumped on the deck, even though the weather wasn’t very inviting. 

While I was drinking my second coffee of the day and slowly waking up, I was looking where to go next. The trip was so unexpected that I didn’t get much time to look for places to explore. I pulled up Google maps satellite view and looked for beaches, parks somewhere with a view on the Salish Sea. I was intrigued by those large banks of sand north of Nanaimo, I picked Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.  

As we were driving onto the scenic road from Nanaimo to Campbell River, we took left and followed a forest road to Horne Lake known for its caves on the campground around the lake. From then, we reached Miracle Beach. The tide was low this afternoon so we were able to walk on the bottom of the Salish Sea.  I was planning to reach Telegraph Cove for the evening but after driving all day and without much sleep the previous night, we decided to stop by Campbell River where our Airbnb was. For some reason, I did not bring the Canon with me while walking in the streets of Campbell River. The last shots of the day were captured with my iPhone X. 

Day 2

As we did not manage to reach Telegraph Cove the previous day, we left Campbell River on the morning and drove North. The further you go inland, the less you feel you are on an island. The drive is quite scenic, passing nearby lakes and rivers, the road is also going through mountains. 

We eventually reached the road that leads to Telegraph Cove where we stopped for a little while to see the train tracks. On the other side, a large hill is a nesting site for eagles, we stayed out of the way to give them some space but you can see them pretty well from the tracks. 

5 minutes later, we finally arrived to Telegraph Cove. I’ve read a lot about that place and always wanted to come visit. Early May is still off season and the little village was slowly waking up from the cold months. Most of the places were still close, the General Store was stocking goods for the summer, the Killer Whale cafe was open and the Museum was going through some renovations as they were expecting a new whale skeleton. First thing was, going onto the small beach to access the water. I had high hopes to maybe spot killer whales from the coast so we stayed for quite a bit of time onto the shoreline. 

Telegraph Cove is known for the two campsites and the wonderful whale watching tours with both boats and kayaks. There is a historic walk in the village that goes through the first houses built there. I just learned recently that those houses are up for rent. The maritime museum of Telegraph Cove is highly recognizable by his red walls. It is quite small but has some many different skeletons of orcas, dolphins and whales (full sizes) I’ve seen wedding venues organized in that space which looked wonderful! I really fell in love with that little port on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. It’s a great place to stay at and bring your boat so you can explore the coasts nearby. 

We had to spend quite a bit of time in the car on the way back as we needed to reach Nanaimo for the last ferry of the day. We still stopped by Neck Point Park for a while before heading back to the BC Ferry even though we did not really want to come bak to Vancouver. On the Ferry, we were looking at estate ads in Nanaimo… Maybe in a close-far future…

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Vancouver Island | NORTHEAST COAST

Place visited:

  • Nanaimo

  • Rathtrevor Provincial Park

  • Qualicum Bay

  • Horne Lake

  • Courtenay

  • Miracle Beach

  • Campbell River

  • Telegraph Cove

It is safer to book in advance the ferry roundtrip as well as the night accommodations. We did basically all the northeast coast in two days but it was pretty rushed. I would advise three or four days.