Condé Nast Traveler magazine's 2012 Readers' Choice Awards ranked Vancouver Island number one in its "Top 5 Islands in Canada" category.
The Vancouver Island region is a large, sparsely populated area, encompassing Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, as well as a portion of the mainland.
It has one of the world's most diverse ecosystems: Rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes create habitats for multitudes of wildlife species. In fact, the region is one of the world's premier locations for whale watching, birding, as well as salmon and trout fishing.
Much of the island is protected parkland. It contains many pockets of old-growth fir and cedar forests, as well as rare, naturally occurring groves of Garry oak. Vancouver Island is bisected, north to south, by the Beaufort Mountain Range, which is home to one of Canada's biggest all-natural ski bases.
The beauty and tranquility of this region has long been a draw for artists and artisans. Art galleries, studios and shops selling unique, locally produced arts and crafts are found in many population centres, particularly on the Gulf Islands.