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Introducing Vancouver Island

The largest populated landmass off the North American coast – it's around 500km long and 100km wide – Vancouver Island is laced with colorful, often quirky communities, many founded on logging or fishing and featuring the word 'Port' in their name.

Despite the general distaste among residents for the 'too busy' mainland – a distaste that often comes from people who've never actually left the island – the locals are usually a friendly and welcoming bunch, proud of their region and its distinct differences. If you want to make a good impression, don't refer to the place as 'Victoria Island,' a frequent mistake that usually provokes involuntary eye rolls and an almost imperceptible downgrading of your welcome.

While Victoria itself – the history-wrapped BC capital that's stuffed with attractions – is the first port of call for many, it should not be the only place you visit here. Food and wine fans will enjoy weaving through the verdant Cowichan Valley farm region; those craving a laid-back, family-friendly enclave should hit the twin seaside towns of Parksville and Qualicum; outdoor-activity enthusiasts shouldn't miss the surf-loving west-coast area; and those who fancy remote backcountry far from the madding crowds should make for the north island region, an undiscovered gem that's among BC's most rewarding wilderness areas.