Discover the 10 Best Campgrounds on Vancouver Island

11 Min Read
Sep 21, 2023

Hey there, adventure-seekers and nature lovers! Let's talk about a slice of paradise that's perfect for those who crave the great outdoors – Vancouver Island. Tucked away on the Canadian west coast, this place is like a playground for campers.

Picture yourself surrounded by lush forests, chilling on pristine beaches, and soaking in the coastal vibes. Yep, that's Vancouver Island for you! Now, if you're wondering where to pitch your tent and kick back with your buddies or family, you're in luck.

We've put together the ultimate insider's guide to the coolest campgrounds this island has to offer. Let's dive in!

1. Chin Beach Campsite

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Chin Beach Campsite, often referred to as China Beach campground, provides an unspoiled haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Imagine yourself setting up camp amid the well-spaced and beautifully treed sites, knowing that the expansive sandy beach is just a 1km trail away.

Sure, the path might be a bit steep in places, and perhaps even slippery if there's been recent rain, but the reward is worth it.

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When you emerge from the stunning Coastal Western Hemlock forest, a landscape of cliff waterfalls, panoramic ocean views, and abundant driftwood awaits you.

Perfect for a day of exploration or simply enjoying the sound of the waves, the beach offers something for every nature lover.

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For a nightly fee of just $10 per person, you get access to 79 vehicle-accessible campsites, with 66 of them available for advance reservations.

While the campground provides essential amenities like outhouses and taps with potable drinking water, do remember to prepare for a digital detox – there's no cell service here. But isn't that what real camping on Vancouver Island is all about?

Location: Chin Beach Campsite - Google Maps

2. Pachena Campground

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Picture an unbelievably stunning stretch of pristine white sand beach, where the waves murmur a timeless lullaby. Now envision your campsite nestled in the temperate rainforest just behind, on both sides of a long, straight road.

Out of the 65+ campsites, 8 boast absolute oceanfront views, yet every shady site is still within easy reach of the sand.

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Now, this unique adventure doesn't come without its challenges. The 2-hour journey from Port Alberni is slow and can be bumpy, but it only adds to the anticipation.

This travel experience makes Pachena Bay an appropriately climactic destination after the long drive, building up the thrill of exploration.

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The facilities at this campground are thoughtfully designed to keep you comfortable without spoiling the natural ambiance.

With flush toilets, drinkable water, 8 serviced RV sites, coin-operated showers, and even Wi-Fi at the office, you won't feel disconnected from modern conveniences. Though, keep in mind that cell phone service is limited.

Location: Pachena Campground - Google Maps

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3. Surf Grove Campground

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Imagine waking up mere steps from one of Tofino's top beaches, the sound of waves calling you to adventure. Here at Surf Grove, you're almost pitching your tent or parking your RV on the sand!

The campground is designed with convenience and comfort in mind, offering a mix of serviced and unserviced options for tents, right through to large RVs.

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Don't have your own gear? No worries! Fully outfitted RVs and charming A-Frame tents with cozy queen-sized beds, windows, and heating are readily available.

One of the must-dos in Tofino is surfing, and Surf Grove makes it a breeze by offering rentals and lessons through their on-site Pacific Surf Company.

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If you've never ridden a wave in the North Pacific Ocean, brace yourself for thrilling, albeit chilly, waters.

But fear not, for those bone-numbing chills can be erased in the most delightful way—by renting one of Surf Grove's unique barrel saunas. An hour of cedar-scented steamy heat, and you'll be toasty warm, with the memories of purple lips and goosebumps fading away.

Location: Surf Grove Campground - Google Maps

4. Rathtrevor Beach Campground

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Imagine this: You're settling into your spacious campsite, surrounded by towering Douglas Fir trees, providing that dappled shade on a bright summer's day.

And guess what? You're less than a five-minute walk from a breathtaking, wide sandy beach. It's a place where you can look for crabs, spot sand dollars, and perhaps even catch sight of a majestic bald eagle or two, all while soaking in a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains across the Salish Sea.

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With 250 vehicle-accessible sites, all reservable, Rathtrevor ensures you have the convenience of modern camping.

From hot showers and flush toilets to outhouses and potable water taps, it's got you covered. And, if you're someone who can't completely unplug, you'll appreciate the cell service.

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Now, here's something for the tent-loving folks: Rathtrevor offers walk-in tent campsites. You can reserve them for just $35/night.

Planning a winter adventure? Limited sites are available at an even friendlier price of $13/night.

Location: Rathtrevor Beach Campground - Google Maps

5. Island View Beach Regional Park Campground

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If you've ever dreamt of camping by a scenic beach, surrounded by nature's splendor and enjoying the view of migratory birds in action, the Island View Beach Regional Park Campground on Vancouver Island might just be your perfect destination.

Open from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to the Labour Day long weekend in September, this spot offers an expansive beach along the Saanich Peninsula's eastern shore.

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But the beach is only the beginning. Follow the access trails from the parking lot to discover an inland trail that meanders through an old salt marsh and backdunes. It's a place that beckons bird watchers, especially during spring and autumn migration times.

From seabirds grazing on eelgrass beds at low tide to the fascinating oystercatchers laying their well-camouflaged eggs on isolated rocky islets, the park is a living showcase of nature's miracles. But remember, keep your distance, and if you're bringing your four-legged friend along, keep dogs on the leash and on the trail.

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Camping at Island View is as convenient as it is captivating, with a self-contained RV and tent campground managed by the Capital Regional District.

Reservations can be easily made through the CRD's secure online system. And if you're planning an overnight kayaking or canoeing adventure, don't forget to grab the available overnight parking permits.

Location: Island View Beach Regional Park Campground - Google Maps

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6. Lakeview Park Campsite

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The lake at Lakeview Park is a genuine gem, providing a chance to take a refreshing dip in calm waters that welcome both expert swimmers and little ones just getting their feet wet.

The gentle shores invite families to splash, play, or just relax by the water's edge, all with the comfort of knowing that the area is maintained with safety in mind.

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But what truly sets them apart is its commitment to cleanliness and environment-friendly practices. The staff regularly patrols the grounds on golf carts, making sure that garbage and recycling are collected promptly.

It's a touch of modern convenience that aligns perfectly with the campsite's natural charm.

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Friendly and attentive, the staff at Lakeview Park is always ready to lend a hand or share a smile, creating a welcoming atmosphere that feels like a community.

It's the perfect combination for families seeking the best camping spots on Vancouver Island.

Location: Lakeview Park Campsite - Google Maps

7. Buttle Lake Campground

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The campsite, surrounded by towering Douglas firs and with some sites boasting lakefront views, offers an opportunity to truly disconnect and embrace the wild.

Imagine waking up to the gentle lapping of Buttle Lake and finding a curious deer wandering near your campsite. It's not a rare sight here, and animal interactions add an extraordinary touch to the camping experience.

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Buttle Lake Campground is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers and mountain bikers will find countless trails that wind through the mountainous terrain, leading to vistas that inspire awe and wonder.

The lake itself offers opportunities for exploration, whether you prefer a leisurely paddle or an adventurous swim.

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With 85 vehicle-accessible sites, the campground provides some basic facilities, including pit toilets and potable water.

While amenities may be limited, the simplicity only adds to the allure of true wilderness camping. Both reservation and first-come, first-served sites are available, catering to planners and spontaneous adventurers.

Location: Buttle Lake Campground - Google Maps

8. Kitty Coleman Beach Provincial Park

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This unique and volunteer-run destination offers the charm of oceanfront camping without breaking the bank. For those in the know, it's considered one of Vancouver Island's best-kept camping secrets.

With 65 vehicle-accessible campsites, Kitty Coleman is famous for its breathtaking views of the Salish Sea. While there may be slightly less privacy compared to some other provincial parks, the panorama more than makes up for it. Imagine spending your days exploring the shore, fishing, swimming, or simply gazing out at the horizon.

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Not to be missed is the park's 500+ year old Douglas Fir tree – a majestic testament to nature's timelessness.

The park's first-come, first-serve policy offers freedom for those spontaneous trips, though a quick call to the caretaker can provide information on available sites.

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Facilities include outhouses and potable water taps, and cell service is available.

The maximum stay is limited to 10 days, which allows for plenty of time to enjoy all the wonders that Kitty Coleman has to offer.

Location: Kitty Coleman Beach Provincial Park - Google Maps

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9. Alder Bay RV Park & Marina

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With over 80 campsites to choose from, the park warmly welcomes both RV enthusiasts and tent campers. Among these, 12 walk-in tent-only sites nestle right by the water's edge, offering stunning vistas and an intimate connection with the bay.

RV sites boast practical amenities including water, power, and sewer services, with prices ranging from $33 to $54 per night during the peak season (based on 2022 rates).

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Imagine spending your days in Alder Bay, where the rhythm of the waves accompanies your every move, and the possibility of spotting an orca whale adds a thrill to the peaceful environment.

The campground's facilities ensure a comfortable stay, including flush toilets, coin-operated showers, laundry facilities, and pay-for-use Wi-Fi. A handy store caters to your immediate needs, and a kayak launching area invites adventurous exploration.

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Although the area exudes a wild charm, getting there doesn't require navigating gravel roads.

This very civilized destination captures the essence of Vancouver Island's quieter and wilder north, providing a perfect haven for relaxation and nature-filled inspiration.

Location: Alder Bay RV Park & Marina - Google Maps

10. Cape Lazo RV Park

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Imagine waking up to the gentle sound of waves, knowing that the beach is just meters away from your RV site.

This RV park boasts 62 full-service sites, providing everything you need for a relaxing stay. You're never far from breathtaking views of the Salish Sea, whether you're venturing on a weekend getaway or planning an extended stay.

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But what truly makes Cape Lazo RV Park special is its commitment to offering a quiet, relaxed environment complemented by top-notch facilities.

The high-speed WiFi ensures that you can stay connected, while the beautiful pavilion with a fireplace invites cozy evenings shared with family or newfound friends. Explore miles of shoreline, or take a short drive to discover the vibrant culture of downtown Comox or Courtenay.

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The park's location puts you at the heart of unlimited Comox Valley experiences, making it a perfect hub for adventurers of all ages.

The modern amenities are thoughtfully designed to make your stay feel like home, yet the spectacular view of the Strait of Georgia will constantly remind you of the natural wonder that surrounds you.

Location: Cape Lazo RV Park - Google Maps

To Sum It All Up

Vancouver Island's campgrounds offer a smorgasbord of experiences that can fit any taste, whether you're seeking a remote wilderness experience, an oceanfront retreat, or a family-friendly environment close to city amenities.

Are you a seasoned camper or setting out on your very first outdoor adventure, Vancouver Island's diverse landscapes and well-equipped campgrounds are ready to welcome you. Each of these campgrounds has its unique charm and attractions, ensuring there's something for every type of camper out there.

So pack your bags, grab a tent or load up the RV, and hit the road. Your next great escape is waiting, and it's all here on Vancouver Island!

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