5 Must Visit Lakes On Vancouver Island
Posted by Tom Westley on
Est. reading time 4 minutes
Vancouver Island is home to some of the finest natural landscapes on the west coast, from panoramic mountain ranges to sweeping coastlines. But some of the highlights can be found inland, on more even ground, in the form of the island’s many beautiful lakes.
Whether you’re looking for a fishing spot, some wild swimming, or just somewhere to enjoy a nice walk and a light picnic, we’re sure you’ll find something on this list of some of the best lake day trip destinations on Vancouver Island.
It’s easy to see immediately why Sproat Lake is one of the most popular vacation spots on Vancouver Island — it’s surrounded by more than 200 miles of densely forested shoreline, with clear blue freshwater that lets you see almost thirty feet down. Located on the highway that leads to Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park, its location makes it a perfect stopping point on your journey to the west coast of the island.
Sproat Lake remains largely uninhabited and undisturbed, aside from a smattering of vacation homes and cottages, making it a nice spot for water activities. Plus with its clear warm waters and tranquil setting, it is ideal for anyone who is searching for fishing, swimming, water skiing, windsurfing, and more!
Around the lake there are a number of popular hiking trails, including eastern trails that will lead you to a collection of prehistoric petroglyphs, one of the best examples in BC of this ancient and amazing art.
Cameron Lake offers a spectacular backdrop of dense forest and sparkling crystalline waters. With a mostly undeveloped north shore that has an abandoned railway line running through it and a stunning trestle bridge, it’s an amazing spot for hiking and getting lost in the sights that make Vancouver Island such an attractive spot for nature enthusiasts.
For fishing lovers, Cameron Lake is also a unique and must-visit destination. As it’s one of a select number of spots where anglers can catch Brown Trout, a species that was introduced to Cameron Lake in the 1930s.
There are also reports of an impressively large and as yet unidentified species that is suspected to be Giant Carp, if you’re looking for a challenge! Those who prefer more lively activities should make sure to take advantage of the high winds and tunneling effects that create the perfect conditions for kitesurfing.
Buttle Lake offers a truly jaw-dropping first impression, with shimmering turquoise waters framed on both sides by towering cliff faces. As you would expect from such a location, it offers a great number of hiking trails, many of the best of which can only be accessed by the water. Such is the secluded and bewitching nature of the landscape around Buttle Lake.
Luckily, it is an amazing spot for kayaking and paddling, which is why we definitely recommend making a whole day of it. Exploring the various hiking trails, and sheltering in for a picnic in the shade during the worst of the midday summer heat. And be sure to check out the majestic Della Falls, which at over 440 metres spread out across three cascades is one of the highest waterfalls in Canada.
Buttle Lake is situated entirely within the Strathcona Provincial Park area, making it an ideal spot if you’re camping out in the park on your way to or from Salish. As an aside Strathcona in general is definitely worth your time, as the oldest provincial park in British Columbia with a convenient central location. It offers more than 250,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, dotted with mountain peaks and winding streams.
Situated within the town that shares its name, Cowichan Lake is one of the largest and most popular lakes in British Columbia. Extending over 30km across, Cowichan Lake has a bevy of spiraling arms and island clusters, as well as easy road access to both sides that makes many of its beaches and waterfronts easy for the public to access. The highlight is Spring Beach, located on the northern shore of the lake, within view of the spectacular Bald Mountain peninsula.
For anglers, Cowichan Lake is known for its bounty of trout fishing options. With rainbow trout, cutthroat, and Dolly Varden all prominent within its waters. As Cowichan Lake allows motorized boats, it also has a great number of watersports, including water skiing and other forms of motorized recreation.
Just 28 miles north of the city of Victoria, Shawnigan Lake is the perfect distance away for a day trip from your Salish base, or to be the first leg of a longer journey northwards across the island.
With this location, and its sparkling waters and wonderful views, it’s easy to understand how Shawnigan Lake has become one of the island’s most popular weekend getaway spots.
When you’re there, Shawnigan Lake has a wide range of recreational pursuits on offer. With swimming, water skiing, boating, and fishing. As well as a number of camping spots and nature trails, many of which link up to one of the numerous picturesque provincial parks that are connected to Shawnigan Lake. For anglers, Shawnigan Lake offers a bounty of both rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as a kokanee salmon population native to the Shawnigan waters.
Bonus Lake: Thetis
In the suburbs of Victoria, there is Thetis Lake, one of the largest and most visited regional parks in the Capital Regional District with over 40 kilometers of recreational trails to explore. There are actually two lakes - Upper Thetis and Lower Thetis, both being a beautiful walk. The trails are clearly marked with picnic areas along the way, and for panoramic views of the lakes and surrounding hills, follow the more challenging trails up Seymour or Scafe Hills.
Vancouver Island is abundant in places to visit and things to do, but there’s only one spot you should be considering when deciding where to base your RV during your journey. Our RV haven here at Salish has all the amenities you need, as well as a convenient and comfortable downtown location. Book your spot today!