Hidden Gems & First Impressions of Victoria, BC

Nomad James Cruickshank shares his top tips for traveling around Victoria, British Columbia.

Photo © James Cruickshank

Canada in Three Words


Why did the deer cross the road? Because it lives in Canada! This is not an uncommon sight when I am out on an evening jog or driving down the street. I've stopped counting my deer sightings (it was exciting at first, and still is!) and am hoping to spot a bear or moose!


Hockey is taken very seriously over here. So seriously that there was a major riot after the Vancouver Canucks lost the final game in the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins in June 2011.

Mother Nature

A very grumpy and moody mother nature! The weather is very unpredictable

Canadian Phrases

I don't know, eh? Oh wait! There it is. Eh? That may not constitute as a phrase, but they really do say it and it totally catches on!

Packing for Canada

I arrived in British Columbia at the beginning of March. I assumed that because Australia's Summer was coming to an end, that on the other side of the world, Canada's Winter would be finishing up. Wrong. My backpack full of shorts, singlets and t-shirts was not very useful. Some thicker socks, a wind/rain jacket and an extra beanie (or "touque" as they call it here) would have been handy.

Tips for 2 Weeks in Canada

I came to Canada on a one way ticket not knowing how long I would intend to stay. I personally don't think two weeks would do this vast country any justice. That being said, if you wanted a snippet of the action, Vancouver Island is your go-to place. From the small surf community of Tofino to BC’s glorious capital city Victoria, Vancouver Island boasts a plethora of activities suitable for anybody and everybody!

Canadian Food

Food, glorious food; my favourite topic! Adhering to a strict plant-based diet, there have been a few challenges here and there. Fortunately though, shortly after settling into Victoria I discovered a small and cozy vegan-friendly community.

I have spoken to Canadians from all around Canada who have told me that people on the West Coast are more health conscious and open. I cannot comment on the rest of Canada. However I can say that if you are a conscious eater, there is no shortage of options.

Green Cuisine features a vegan style buffet. You pay per 100g and if you get a bit excited like I did my first time, it can add up. But the food is delicious, nutritious and cruelty-free!

Rebar has a creative menu for vegetarians, but also features options for celiacs and vegans. Laid back and very chilled out, even meat-eaters will be surprised and no doubt enjoy their Rebar experience!

Between 2:30pm - 3pm they offer half price off their buffet. Which features hearty Asian food. Very simple little restaurant with unbeatable prices. If you do happen to go at 2:30pm, be sure to get there at TWO THIRTY otherwise you'll be in a lengthy line. 

Hidden Gems in Canada

The small, cozy town of Tofino is about a 5hr drive from Victoria. It's located on the West coast of Vancouver Island and is a total hot spot for surfers and beachgoers, adventure seekers and nature lovers.

Photo by James Cruickshak

While staying in a hostel in Victoria, I got chatting with a fella who had just returned from Tofino who excitedly told me of a WW2 plane crash site that you could hike to. In order to find the trail for the hike to the plane crash site you can park your car at the bottom of the Radar Hill entrance and then walk up the highway (as if you were walking out of Tofino) to a telephone pole marked 300. Alternatively, hire a bike and ride out of town along the highway and after you pass the Radar Hill sign you'll walk or ride another 600m to the marked pole.

From there it's up and over a ridge, through what appears to be an abandoned house and then descend down to a wet marsh area. I didn't exactly go in Summer, so there was a ton of mud which made the hike a bit slower, but if you follow the markers through the bush it shouldn't take you more than an hour to find the plane crash. A muddy foot is all it will cost you to discover this hidden gem!

Photo by James Cruickshak

Tips for Travelers


I didn't prepare for my trip. But, I'd suggest packing appropriate clothing, and some vitamin D pills! Otherwise, a positive attitude and a big smile can go a long way!

Travel Safety Advice

I have yet to feel "unsafe" in Canada. For the most part the people here are super friendly and majority of the time are always willing to help.


Even hitch-hiking around the island is a cinch! Get some bright clothing on, make a big sign with your destination on it and if you can, stand by a 4 way intersection where there are some traffic lights so people can see you and ensure that there is a spot for them to pull over.

There is more of a chance of you being abducted by aliens than ending up on 6pm news as that missing backpacker! In saying all that though, every city has its dark corners and fair share of not-so-friendly folk. If you apply common sense, trust your gut and maintain a positive attitude, what's the worst that could go wrong?

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