Port Hardy (population: 4,000) is the last bastion of civilization in the remote and wild north end of Vancouver Island.
The town has a fascinating blue-collar history and a bright green ecotourist future as it evolves into one of North America's best as-yet undiscovered outdoor adventure destinations.
The natural ingredients are all here: fishing, hiking, world-class scuba diving, and serious quantities of wildlife in coastal waters, wilderness parks and the area's nicely mature second-growth woodland habitat make for great viewing.
Cape Scott Provincial Park
Other northern Vancouver Island centres have similar super natural assets, but Port Hardy's ace in the hole is Cape Scott Provincial Park. Sitting windswept and ruggedly unspoiled at the island's northern tip, the park is a Disneyland for wilderness hikers and camping enthusiasts. Port Hardy's fine array of shops, restaurants, art galleries, accommodations, and aboriginal cultural attractions are less than an hour away via an upgraded logging road.