A visit to Sointula can be a vacation all its own. Don’t let Malcolm Island’s small size fool you. It’s packed with activities to enjoy and sights to take in. Whether you spend a few days at a luxurious fishing lodge or spend your time relaxing and enjoying the charming town of Sointula, you can easily fill a week or two with fun without leaving the island.

But a visit to Sointula can also be a great addition to a road trip through British Columbia. To get to Port McNeil, where you can hop on a boat to catch a ride to Malcolm Island, you’ll need to road trip across Vancouver Island, first. This massive island is filled with a variety of parks, natural features, museums, and other attractions to enjoy. Want to extend your visit to Sointula with a stay on Vancouver Island? Keep reading to learn a few must-sees to add to your itinerary.

Visit the Aquarium

It’s impossible to visit Sointula without seeing at least a few of the incredible wild creatures that make their home on the island and in the surrounding waters. So if you’re planning to make your way through Malcolm Island before you visit Sointula, plan a day to explore the Discovery Passage Aquarium, where you can learn more about the sea creatures you’ll see during the rest of your trip.

The aquarium is located in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. It’s packed with hands-on activities and unique exhibits that let adults and kids of all ages interact with the unique marine species that are native to the region. The aquarium does close during the late fall each year. But it’s open from spring to early fall, making it a great stop on your summer adventure.

Take to the Sky for a Bird’s Eye View

Experiencing the marine creatures that live around Vancouver Island is fun. But at this next attraction, you can see the island from a different angle. Climb aboard the Mount Washington Scenic Chairlift to get a bird’s eye view of a mountainous region of Vancouver Island.

During the winter months, Mt. Washington is home to an alpine resort that’s popular for skiing and snowboarding. But when the snow melts, the resort offers warm-weather activities, like zip-lining, hiking, and the resort’s famous chairlift.

On the 15 minute ride on the open-air lift, you’ll climb to an elevation of more than 5,200 feet. On clear days, you’ll be able to see as far as Mt. Baker in Washington and to the Strait of Georgia from the summit. After your ride to the top, you can either hop back on the chairlift for a relaxing ride to the bottom or hike your way back down the mountain.

Experience the Picturesque Beauty of Elk Falls

One of Vancouver Island’s most beautiful natural attractions is Elk Falls Provincial Park. The park is best known for its great salmon fishing, and for the beautiful, thundering waterfall located within its boundaries. 

Located just outside of downtown Campbell River, the park offers tons of hiking trails, as well as mountain biking trails. The park’s namesake waterfall is located in a beautiful setting of lush green forests. The strong flow of water that constantly thunders over the edge drops nearly 90 feet to the pool below. Getting to the falls does require a short hike, but can be done in about 30 minutes and is relatively easy, making it a great choice for families or those new to hiking.

For an even better view of Elk Falls, put your courage to the test with a walk across the suspension bridge. Built in 2015, this springing bridge towers some 200 feet above the ground and offers stunning views of the falls and the surrounding landscape. While not for those with a fear of heights, the bridge offers an incredible way to get a better view and capture some stunning photos.

Take a Step Back in Time

Besides being rich in natural beauty and stunning wildlife, Vancouver Island also has a long history of settlement. You can take a step back in time to learn a little more about this history, and about one unique individual who once called the island home, at the Haig-Brown Heritage Museum.

Located inside of the former home of Roderick Haig-Brown, the museum celebrates his life as an environmentalist, conservationist, and author. His work inspired — and continues to inspire — generations of individuals both on Vancouver Island and around the world to preserve the natural world around us. 

The Haig-Brown House is now both a museum and a bed and breakfast. Stop by to see the author’s book collection, learn about his life and work, and see what it would have been like to live on the island in the early 1920s and 1930s.

Planning a Visit to Vancouver Island

If you’re planning to take a road trip to Sointula or just want to extend your trip, a visit to Vancouver Island is a great addition to your next vacation. The island’s unique museums, parks, and other attractions make for a great balance to Sointula’s remote charm.

Ready to start planning your next visit? Use our lodging guide as a starting point, and start planning your perfect trip today!