Summertime is the best time to completely disregard TLC’s lyrics “don’t go chasing waterfalls.” Vancouver Island, whether you’re exploring North, Central, South or the rugged West Coast, is riddled with stunning cascades to track down. Some are easy to reach, while others become a full day’s (or weekend’s) adventure. No matter what type of waterfall hunting you’re into, the Island will have the one for you. Read on for DVI’s Top Ten Waterfalls to Visit this Summer.
From Cumberland to Campbell River the North/Central part of Vancouver Island offers the best of the outdoor adventure world. As far as waterfalls go, they have a few titles to brag about, too. It’s definitely a waterfall chasing paradise.
Elk Falls is a top stopover in Campbell River, and not just for the 25m high waterfall that tumbles down from a stunning rocky cliff. The whole park is riddled with great hiking trails and wheelchair accessible platforms and lookouts. The best part, however, is the new suspension bridge. Spanning the 64m of the Campbell River Canyon, it sits at 60m high and gives you the eagle’s view of the river and Elk Falls itself.
Trail Length: 6km (for the full loop)
Special Features: Wheelchair accessible platforms and 64m long suspension bridge
Overlooking Buttle Lake (accessed via Campbell River) is Myra Falls – a highlight of the Strathcona Provincial Park. An easy 1km trail from the parking lot takes you directly to the lower pools of the beautiful falls. The falls themselves treat you to a stunning view of the crystal-clear lake below. When the water’s calm, which is likely during the summer season, a dip in the pools might just be in order.
Trail Length: 1km (Lower), or 4km (Upper)
Special Features: Views of Buttle Lake, swimmable pools
Della Falls is where the North/Central Island’s bragging rights kick in. It is labeled the tallest waterfall in Canada. Sounds ideal, so what’s the catch? Della Falls is a major long weekend endeavor for those who want to see it. The first step is taking a water taxi out to the trailhead. From there, you’re looking at about 16kms of varying terrain. You can camp at the base, tackle the hike to the second campsite the next day and then finish it off with another night at the base. When you do get to the top, you’ll definitely reap the rewards. Della Falls floats down from level to level of rock face and into the waiting canyon below.
Trail Length: 36km round trip
Special Features: Highest waterfall in Canada
Aside from the four below, ask any local about their favourite summer swimming hole – chances are it features its own little spout as well. Many are best-kept secrets, or local’s only trademarks, but many are easy access and absolutely stunning. Whether you know someone to get the inside scoop, or want to see the favourites, there’s plenty of falls to be found in Central Vancouver Island.
Trent River Falls
For kids growing up in Courtenay and Royston, Trent River Falls is something of a secret summer paradise. A short trail off the Island Highway brings you to the bottom of a curved cliff where the crashing water fills a near perfect circular swimming hole. The pebbled shores leave plenty of sunny spots to catch some rays and if the water is deep enough, a jump from the top into the pool below is bound to get your heart pumping. The only challenge is not missing the turn. Note: You can also reach the falls by walking up the Trent River.
Trail Length: 100m
Special Features: Jumping cliffs
Hole in the Wall
A spot of intrigue lies in the forest just outside of Port Alberni across from the Coombs Country Candy store. Gaining in popularity is the Hole in the Wall, which used to serve as a shortcut for the water supply back in the sixties. Now, it’s a cool to feature go see while going through Port Alberni. More of a stunning novelty than impressive waterfall, the hole is located down a mildly tricky trail on Roger Creek. Since water technically still drops from the mouth of it, the Hole in the Wall definitely counts as a waterfall regardless of its height. Plus, it’s a one of a kind on Vancouver Island.
Trail Length: 20min
Special Features: One-of-a-Kind
Part of Benson Creek Falls Regional Park (in Nanaimo) and hardly visited with the exception of some well-versed locals, Ammonite Falls is a treat for anyone seeking a waterfall adventure. Although the final descent can be a bit tricky (especially during rainy season) it’s well worth the adventure. Ammonite Falls gets its name from the numerous fossils embedded in the area’s rocks, by the way, some of which you may come across if you’re lucky. The falls pour like a sheet into a beautiful river and above are rock shelves and drops, which make for another neat feature.
Trail Length: 5km (Jameson Rd. Trailhead)
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate/Difficult (ropes in one section)
Special Features: Best Kept Secret
These falls sit above the Bush Creek Fish Hatchery and have a tendency to sneak up on you. With a light loop trail of 8km, it makes for a perfect waterfall-hunting day. Although they are more of a sight to behold during rainy season when the water comes down with incredible force (which waterfall isn’t), they’re still a delight in the summer. For such little effort, they’re a great day escape to Ladysmith and beyond.
Trail Length: 8km Loop
Special Features: Best-Kept Secret
Englishman River Falls
Just west of Parksville and outside the small town of Errington lies Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. It’s a paradise of hikes, camping and, of course, waterfalls. Two of them in fact! Take your pick of hiking trails that wind along with the river and crisscross over bridges, giving you a view of the water tumbling into the canyon below. The lower falls pour into a charming pool that acts as a perfect swimming hole during the summer. You might as well pitch a tent at the campground and make a weekend out of this ideal waterfall find.
Trail Length: 3km
Special Features: Campground, bridges, swimming hole
Although most associate the South of the Island with the province’s capital city, Victoria, there are definitely plenty of outdoor adventures to be had. From hikes and mountains to parks and beaches, they’ve got some great waterfalls in some pretty unexpected places. Most of them are stunning and well worth escaping the city to check out.
It’s true; Vancouver Island has its very own Niagara Falls. This Niagara Falls, however, does not resemble its infamous namesake in any way other than its height. Still, Niagara in Goldstream Provincial Park is a magnificent sight to see, and requires very little work. It’s visible from a short trail right off the side of the highway. If you’re careful, you can even climb down to where the falls crash into the river and feel the powerful wind and spray from the cascade. From there, Goldstream has plenty to offer including a trestle bridge, visitor’s centre, an old mine, a salmon spawning river and more than a few mountain trails and summits. For just a short drive out of Victoria, it’s worth spending the whole day.
Trail Length: 0.75km Round trip
Special Features: Provincial Park amenities, trestle bridge, hiking trails etc.
The “waterfall” at Sandcut Beach is another one that’s more of an interesting feature than an actual waterfall. There is definitely water falling from a cliff though, so it counts for this list. Located along the Pacific Marine Circle Route just beyond Sooke, the drive is pleasant and the fall easy to find down a ten-minute, rainforest trail. It’s said to be located “where the rainforest meets the sea.” As you walk along the beach, you’ll come across the fall cutting its way to the rocks below through an intriguing sandstone cliff. Just beyond is a rope swing as well, so the effort won’t be in vain. Plus, you can tie the adventure in with a beach day.
Trail Length: 10min
Special Features: Rope swing
The rugged West Coast of Vancouver Island is an outdoor haven for absolutely everything: hiking, surfing, kayaking, SUP boarding… and of course Waterfalls. One in particular is an absolute must during the summer season. Like everything out on the coast, it’s an adventure to find.
Just like getting to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Virgin Falls is difficult to get to, but beautiful and absolutely worth it when you arrive. Embark on the journey from Tofino or Ucluelet and plan to spend the day (or even the night). Once you get to the trailhead, it’s only a two-minute hike to the beautiful, rock-face that boasts the 53m high falls. They drop into a perfect swimming hole and the logs lying about make for excellent benches and campfire perches. The surrounding forest and crashing falls makes the area an intimate oasis. The rest of the world hardly seems to exist. Sounds perfect? Just be sure to bring a car that’s good on rough roads, and be aware that the creeping branches sometimes have a thirst for fresh paint.
Trail Length: 10min, 1.2hr drive
Difficulty: Easy – except for the drive
Special Features: Swimming hole, camping area
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk