Journey to the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest
via road & ferry!
A spectacular way to travel to Bella Coola is by road and ferry on the Discovery Coast Circle Route. Explore rainforests, stay in sea-side villages, learn about First Nation cultures and look for bears, whales, dolphins and more! On this tour you will truly see the best of British Columbia.
Suggested Duration: minimum 7 days. The longer, the better!
Approximate Distance (including ferries): 1831km. This trip can be down in a clockwise, and anti-clockwise, direction. Click here for a PDF map of the Discovery Coast Circle Route.
Do you have an electric car? We have a charging station (NEMA 14-50)!
Have you ever wanted to explore "super, natural British Columbia" in detail? Our province, almost 4 times the size of the United Kingdom and 2.2 larger than California, boasts a huge diversity of landscapes. From the lush, verdant Great Bear Rainforest (where we are located) to the snow-laden Coast Range mountains and the semi-arid deserts in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia is a land of contrasting beauty.
An exciting way to experience these dramatic landscapes is by going on a roadtrip! The Discovery Coast Circle Tour takes in many spectacular places along its route. Start your journey in Vancouver and pick up your rental car. Take the ferry to Nanaimo, or to Victoria, BC's capital on Vancouver Island. Drive up to Parksville and Qualicum Beach where there is a beach 70km in length!
Even though they aren't on the official Discovery Coast Circle Tour, the seaside towns of Tofino and Ucluelet are worth the side trip. Located in Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the towns are known for their surfing beaches, outdoor activities and coastal culture.
The route continues north through the town of Cumberland. Now, if you are a mountain biker, you must stop and ride the great single track here! When in Campbell River or other spots on Vancouver Island, take the time to go on a whale watching tour to look for orcas or humpback whales.
Once you reach Port Hardy near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, catch the ferry to Bella Coola! The cruise is spectacular, to say the least. Leaving at 7:30am, you will sail through secluded coves and impressive fjords. Keep your eyes open for sea lions, dolphins, orcas, sea birds and more!
Insider Tip: Before taking the ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola, catch a floatplane for a stay at the award-wining, family owned/operated Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort; one of our partners in the Magnificent 7 Luxury Wilderness Lodges of Canada! It truly is an amazing place!
That evening you will arrive at the Bella Coola Harbour around 5:30pm, then it's an easy drive the 60km drive to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge for a multi-night stay. This will be, no doubt, the highlight of your trip! We will aim to exceed your expectations as will the numerous soft eco-tours. We recommend 4 or more nights, however, if you are pressed for time, then we can offer you a 2 or 3-night package.
From our lodge, you will climb out of the Great Bear Rainforest up to the Chilcotin Plateau, home to large ranches and picturesque canyons. If you are a keen "birder" make sure to stop off at Green Lake/Watch Lake Recreational Area (near 70 Mile House) to witness a huge variety of avian species. They will have you all in a flutter.
Insider Tip: Before continuing south, we strongly recommend staying at Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, another one of our partners in the Magnificent 7 Luxury Wilderness Lodges of Canada! Siwash is where "where horses, adventure and ecology entwine amid Nature."
Continuing south along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road, built in the 1860s, you will pass through Lillooet then Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Whistler is definitely worth a stop, even in summer. While the resort is often ranked as the best ski resort in North America, there are tons to do in summer. A must-do is to take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This aerial tramway takes you between 2 giant mountain peaks...and a whopping 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor!
From Whistler continue along the awesomely named Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver, just 2 hours away (oh, if you are a keen mountain biker, make sure to stop and ride in Squamish, home to some of the best single track trails on the planet!)
The above is just a sample of the places you can visit on the Discovery Coast Circle Tour. BC Ferries has several packages that include a stay with us;
- For dates June-August: "Tweedsmuir Park Lodge Explorer Package"
- For dates September-October: "Tweedsmuir Park Lodge Grizzly Safari"
For other detailed road-tripping suggestions, visit these sites;
- The Great Bear Rainforest Circle Tour on the www.LandWithoutLimits.com website (our official regional tourism organization)
- The Great Bear Rainforest Circle Tour on Destination British Columbia official website
- the Travel British Columbia site
- British Columbia Travel Information websites
For the ferry timetable visit the BC Ferries website.