a VirtualTourist member from Orlando
My husband and I are planning an eight day (not including travel days) trip to Vancouver Island in late June. On the first night our plane arrives from Florida around nine at night. After customs we are intending to drive straight away to Parksville for our stay for the next three days. I realize that the sun will be setting latter in the evening and this is unfamiliar territory to us. Is this too much for a first day? Is the road in this direction too dark or narrow for this late night trip? I really don't want to stay in Victoria at the beginning of our trip but rather at the end. We will be staying three days in the Parksville area then days in Ucluelet and the final three days in Victoria. Advice?
What is your point of arrival? Sidney (near Victoria) or Vancouver?
Parksville isn't too far from Nanaimo, which is where the closest ferry to the airport goes. The airport in Sidney to Parksville requires taking a loop around the waterway that makes the peninsula on which the airport sits, so you have to go through Victoria. Depending on your arrival time the traffic through there can be a pain. The evening traffic jam going west out of Victoria can be pretty bad.
However, it is a pretty good road as far up as Courtenay. Much of it is 4 lanes with a concrete divider in the middle.
I assume that you are flying into Victoria airport, rather than the Vancouver airport? You will have around at 15 mile drive to Victoria itself and closer to 3 hours to Parksville.
As you will be arriving at 9:00PM, clearing customs, getting your luggage, rental car, etc. you will be pushing around 10:00PM before you hit the road. As well, your bodies will be 3 hours ahead because of the time zone difference between the Eastern time zone and the Pacific time zone. Do you really want to do that long a drive (parts of the drive are fairly dark; I used to be out that way on business frequently, but that was over 10 years ago) when you are already tired?
You might want to consider spending the night in Sidney (which is the town where the airport is located), rather than in Victoria and hit the road when you are refreshed a bit more in the morning.
What an important part to leave out on my part! Yes, we will be flying into Victoria International. Our plane does not depart Florida until two in the afternoon so we could at least sleep that morning a little. I have thought about the Sydney stay but really wanted to be at our starting point on the next morning. As much as possible I avoid one day stays during travel. I like to enjoy where I'm at. If I stayed in Sydney where would you suggest? No hostels, but b&b are best then hotels, guesthouse or motels. Thank you both so much for your advise I appreciate it.
I've only stayed in Sidney once and that was after a long day of travelling (flight from Eastern Canada to Vancouver and then the ferry ride from Tswaassen to Sidney). For work I tended to stay in downtown Victoria and the last few times I stayed at the Coast Harbourside.
I think I likely stayed at the Best Western in Sidney. I haven't done the B&B route in that part of Canada.
You might also want to consider staying in Tofino, rather than Ucluelet, which was closer to the places we were visiting; Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and our day-trip out to Hot Spring Island.