The 10 Best Waterfalls on Vancouver Island: Full Guide
Vancouver Island is home to endless natural beauty. There is no shortage of waterfalls here. From rushing rivers to secret cave waterfalls, I’ve prepared a guide that covers the top 10 waterfalls on Vancouver Island. I’ve personally been to every waterfall on this list and many more on the island. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to visit these epic waterfalls on Vancouver Island!
Table of Contents:
- Sandcut Beach Waterfall
- Mystic Beach Waterfall
- Sombrio Beach Waterfall
- Hole In The Wall Falls
- Englishman River Falls
- Little Qualicum Falls
- Niagara Falls Vancouver Island
- Stocking Creek Falls
- Granny Falls Nanaimo
- Kennedy River Falls
- Highest Vancouver Island Waterfall
- Best Vancouver Island Waterfalls
- Best Time to Visit
- Other Sights & Tourist Spots
- Tips & Suggestions
- Vancouver Island Packing List
1. Sandcut Beach Waterfall
This is an awesome waterfall in the Southwest of Vancouver Island. It flows directly into the ocean! Sandcut Beach Waterfall is one of the most unique waterfalls on Vancouver Island because you can stand behind it. You’d think the rocks would be slippery, but they were actually quite grippy when we were there.
This waterfall is easy to find and access, although it does require a bit of a hike to get there. Below I’ll explain how to visit the Sandcut Beach Waterfall. I’d recommend pairing this waterfall with the nearby Sombrio Beach Waterfall and Mystic Beach Waterfall. This way you can make the most out of your trip! Sandcut Beach is also one of the best beaches in Sooke!
Where is Sandcut Beach BC?
Sandcut Beach is located near Sooke on the Southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The Sandcut Beach Parking lot is a 26-minute (26km/16mi) drive from Sooke. You can also visit this beach on a day trip from Victoria but it will take you a bit longer to get here, it’s a 1h10min (66km/44mi) drive from Victoria. The parking lot is located directly on Highway 14.
Hiking to the Sandcut Beach Waterfall
From the parking lot, follow the main (and only) trail down to the beach. This trail is 390m long and should take around 10-minutes to reach the beach. Take care on the trail to the beach as it features a lot of roots, rocks, and other obstacles. As you get closer to the beach, the trail gets significantly steeper.
Once at Sandcut Beach, head East (left if you’re facing the ocean) and continue walking down the beach for another 450m (10-minutes). It’s a good idea to plan to be here during low tide so that more of the beach is exposed, making it easier to walk down the beach to access this waterfall. Check the tide chart here. This is one of the Vancouver Island waterfalls that’s hard to miss, because it’s directly on the beach.
2. Mystic Beach Waterfall
Like the forementioned Sandcut Beach Waterfall, the Mystic Beach Waterfall flows directly into the Ocean! This waterfall flows onto Mystic Beach in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park. It’s a reasonably tall waterfall and I would suggest visiting this waterfall during the spring or after a decent rainfall. If you visit during a dry time, this waterfall may be more like a trickle.
Mystic Beach is backed by beautiful cliffs, making it even more scenic. There’s even a small cave at the West end of the beach! This waterfall easily made the list of best waterfalls on Vancouver Island! Below I’ll explain how to visit this beauty!
How to Get to Mystic Beach Waterfall
The Mystic Beach Waterfall is located in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park near Sooke, BC. It’s very close to the Sandcut Beach Waterfall mentioned previously in this article. From Sooke, head west on Highway 14 for 34-minutes (34km/21mi) and the turnoff to the parking lot will be on your left. From the highway, it’s a 150m drive to the parking lot. This parking lot is for Mystic Beach as well as China Beach.
You can also visit Mystic Beach from Victoria although it’s more of a trek being 1h19m (64km/46mi). The Vancouver Island waterfalls located on the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail are better accessed via Sooke or Port Renfrew.
How Long is the Hike to Mystic Beach
The hike from the parking lot to Mystic Beach takes around 40-minutes in each direction. This 2km/1.2mi trail winds through the trees and down to the coast. There’s a nice suspension bridge that you’ll cross around 2/3 of the way in. The river below is the same river that the Mystic Beach Waterfall is on.
Once at the beach, head East (left if you’re facing the ocean) and you’ll immediately see the waterfall pouring over the tall cliffs. It’s an awesome sight to behold. I’d suggest checking the tide chart and visiting at low tide, because during high tide you wont be able to get too close to this waterfall without getting soaked.
Is Mystic Beach Sandy?
Mystic Beach has both sandy and rocky areas. Closer to the cliff it’s more sandy and closer to the water it’s small, smooth rocks.
How long is the hike from China Beach to Mystic Beach?
The hike from China Beach to Mystic Beach will take approximately 1 hour and is 2.7km/1.7mi long. I’d recommend visiting both beaches if you’re in the area but if I had to choose one it would be Mystic Beach because the trail is more scenic and Mystic beach has a waterfall.
Can you Camp at Mystic Beach
Yes camping is available at Mystic Beach. There’s a small campsite at the West end of the beach along the river. You will need to purchase a backcountry camping permit either online or with exact cash upon arrival.
3. Sombrio Beach Waterfall
The Sombrio Beach Waterfall is a hidden gem also located within the Juan De Fuca Provincial Park in the South-West of Vancouver Island. The unique rock formations and the fact it’s in a canyon/cave make this one of the must see Vancouver Island Waterfalls. This waterfall is so impressive that I created an in-depth guide to visiting the Sombrio Beach Waterfall that contains all of the information you need to know about this epic spot!
Sombrio Beach Waterfall: Ultimate Guide
4. Hole In The Wall Falls
The Hole in the Wall waterfall is one of the most interesting waterfalls on Vancouver Island because it runs through a man-made hole that was drilled through a cliff for a pipeline. The pipeline has since been removed so now what’s left is an awesome waterfall and swimming spot!
You can carefully climb up to the Hole in the Wall and slide down the waterfall into the pool below! It’s slippery though so take caution. The pool is part of another river and is quite cold, so swimming is best only on a hot day! Most people stop by here on the way to Tofino, as it’s close to the highway.
How to Get to the Hole in the Wall Waterfall
The Hole in the Wall is located near Port Alberni, BC and is easily accessed from Highway #4 that runs between Qualicum Beach & Tofino. If you’re driving to Tofino from anywhere on Vancouver Island you will be driving passed the parking lot for the Hole in the Wall, so it’s worth it to take a pit stop and check it out! The parking lot is a small pull-out on the left side of the highway (when travelling West).
Driving Times & Distances:
- From Port Alberni: 8-minutes, 7km/4mi, East
- From Nanaimo: 1hr03min, 79km/49mi, West
- From Tofino: 1h53min, 128km/79mi, East
Hiking to the Hole in the Wall Waterfall
From the parking area, it’s a 15-minute hike down a mellow gravel trail. The hike winds through the forest and along the river. It is not difficult or technical at all. You can be in and out in an hour including some time spent swimming. This is one of the most convenient waterfalls on Vancouver Island because you can use it to take a driving break on your way to Tofino.
5. Englishman River Falls
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a small provincial park along the Englishman River. It features a couple of nice waterfalls and a swimming hole at the bottom. The waterfall itself is interesting because it flows into a canyon. There were people jumping off the surrounding cliffs while we were there.
This is one of the closest waterfalls on Vancouver Island to Parksville so if you’re in the area it’s a must see. I personally visited this waterfall while on route to Tofino from Nanaimo.
Where is Englishman River Falls
Englishman River Falls is just a short drive off the Alberni Highway 4A. Head South onto Errington Road and follow it for 10-minutes (9km/6mi) to the end of the road. This will bring you to the parking lot. It’s easy to access this set of Vancouver Island waterfalls from Parksville because it’s only 16-minutes away.
From Nanaimo, head west on Highway 19 and it’s a 45-minute drive (49km/30mi).
From Port Alberni, head East on Highway 4 and it’s a 43-minute drive (49km/30mi).
How long is the Walk at Englishman River Falls?
This provincial park has a loop trail from he parking lot. It’s a diverse but quick and easy walk on a well maintained trail. The loop takes roughly 25-minutes and is 1.5km long. I’d recommend doing the full loop as it takes you along the cliff sides, across two bridges, and along the river.
Can you swim in Englishman River Falls?
If the weather is nice, bring your swimsuit and you can take a dip in the river. If you’re feeling adventurous you can jump off the cliffs also! This is one of the top waterfalls on Vancouver Island for a reason!
6. Little Qualicum Falls
Little Qualicum Falls is part of Little Qualicum River Regional Park. This park features a camping area and other facilities. Little Qualicum Falls is one of my favorite of the Vancouver Island Waterfalls because the waterflow is good and the falls are pretty big. There’s two big drops back to back that are on a cornering section of the river.
You can access both sides of the river to get different views of the waterfalls here. It’s a must-stop place to visit if you’re in the Qualicum Beach area. As with Englishman River Falls mentioned above, I visited this waterfall while on route to Tofino. You can easily bundle this waterfall with Englishman River Falls.
How to Get to Little Qualicum Falls
Little Qualicum Falls is located near Qualicum Beach. It’s off of Highway 4 between Qualicum Beach & Port Alberni. From Qualicum Beach it’s a 13-minute drive (13km/8mi) to the West. From Port Alberni it’s a 29-min drive (31km/19mi) to the East. This waterfall is also easily accessed from Parksville & Nanaimo but it makes for a good stopping point while driving to Tofino.
How Long is the Hike at Little Qualicum Falls
The main hike at Little Qualicum Falls takes roughly 45-minutes including stopping to check out the falls. The trail is a loop trail that is well maintained. This trail features two bridges and a fair amount of stairs, but it’s not very technical. It’s a scenic trail that follows the Little Qualicum River and gives you a variety of locations to view the various waterfalls on site.
Can you Swim in Little Qualicum Falls
Yes you can swim at Little Qualicum Falls. There are a few calm sections on the river where you can take a dip. The water is refreshing and clean.
7. Niagara Falls Vancouver Island
Niagara Falls is one of the lesser-known waterfalls on Vancouver Island. It’s part of Goldstream Provincial Park. This waterfall is narrow but drops 50 meters so it’s quite tall. In the rainy season take care here as the waterflow can be very heavy. You can walk right up to the waterfall to take photos and hang out. It’s a perfect place to stop if you’re driving between Nanaimo and Victoria.
How to Get to Niagara Falls Vancouver Island
This waterfall is located in Goldstream Provincial Park between Victoria and Nanaimo. Niagara Falls Vancouver Island is directly on the Trans Canada Highway #1 so it’s not hard to find if you know where to look.
From Victoria, head on Highway 1 East towards Nanaimo. Because the highway is divided and there aren’t many turnaround spots in this area, you have to pass Niagara Falls and continue driving until you can turn around. The main parking area is on the other side of the highway. Drive for 37-minutes (36km/22mi) and exit left off the highway to turn around and then head back towards Victoria for 14-minutes (19km/11mi). Yes that’s not a typo.
There will be a small parking lot on your right. There are other places to park for this waterfall that don’t require you to drive so far past it, but depending on the waterflow they are not safe, so I would recommend the way above.
From Nanaimo head West on Highway 1 towards Victoria for 1h10min (91km/56mi) and the parking area will be on your right. It is easier to access this waterfall when travelling from Nanaimo to Victoria, instead of the opposite direction.
Hiking to the Niagara Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
From the main parking area, follow the trail until you reach the river and head left. Do not cross under the highway. The trail is 700m long and takes 15 minutes to get to the base of the waterfall. Take caution climbing down to the waterfall as the rocks can be slippery. It’s not an overly aggressive hike and it’s a good stopping point while on route to Victoria from Nanaimo.
Best Victoria Hotel
8. Stocking Creek Falls
Stocking Creek Falls is an interesting little spot that features a few smaller waterfalls. The trail itself was nice but the waterfalls weren’t overly impressive. It’s located near Ladysmith, between Nanaimo & Victoria. It’s in a park called Stocking Creek Park.
We enjoyed the trails and our dog had a blast running around. If you’re headed East from Victoria this makes for a good place to stop and stretch your legs. The trail is well mapped and the main loop takes roughly 30-minutes (3km/1.5mi). Overall I’d say that Stocking Creek Falls is worth a visit.
9. Granny Falls Nanaimo
Granny Falls, also called Chase River Falls, is one of the smaller waterfalls on Vancouver Island but it’s worth it to check it out because it’s very close to the highway and easy to access.
This waterfall is part of the Nanaimo Lakes Road Park trail system so you can check out the river, lakes, and other trails while you’re visiting Granny Falls.
How to Get to Granny Falls
Granny Falls is located on the outskirts of Nanaimo. There are a few ways to access this waterfall via the Nanaimo Road Lakes trails. The fastest access point is to park on Nanaimo Lakes Road near where the Highway 17 passes over it. You can park your car on the shoulder of the road and walk in from there. If you want to explore the park, then it’s best to park in one of the designated parking lots for the park.
Hiking to Granny Falls
The hike to Granny Falls is pretty straight forward. If you’re parked where the Highway passes over Nanaimo Lakes Road, stay on the East side of the overpass and head South along the Highway. There is a small trail that will connect to the main trails of the park. Once on the main trail, you’ll cross a bridge and even walk through a tunnel under the highway. All in all the hike takes 5-minutes and is 370m in each direction.
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10. Kennedy River Falls
Kennedy River Falls is located on Highway 4 between Tofino & Port Alberni. I visited this waterfall on the way to Tofino and it’s worth it to stop for a few minutes. This is one of the few waterfalls on Vancouver Island that’s truly located directly on the highway. There is no trail to this waterfall because you just step off the highway and you’re there.
Kennedy Falls is a 1h04min (drive70km/43mi) from from Tofino and a 44-minute (56km/35mi) drive from Port Alberni. It’s a great spot to stretch your legs while driving to and from Tofino, but I wouldn’t suggest planning a day trip just for this.
What is the Highest Waterfall on Vancouver Island?
The highest waterfall on Vancouver Island is Della Falls. This waterfall is located in Strathcona Provincial Park and is 440m tall. It’s the 16th tallest waterfall in Canada. This waterfall is generally more difficult to access than the others on this list.
How Many Waterfalls on Vancouver Island?
Vancouver Island has a countless amount of waterfalls. There are hundreds that are accessible and likely even more that are inaccessible.
The Best Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
If I had to narrow down this list to my top 3 waterfalls on Vancouver Island it would be the Sombrio Beach Waterfall, Little Qualicum Falls and the Sandcut Beach Waterfall. However, I recommend you check them all out and decide for youtself!
Best Time to Visit the Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
The best time of year to visit the waterfalls on Vancouver Island is in the spring. This is because the runoff from the snow melt will significantly increase the amount of water flowing in the rivers. The spring season runs from April – June. With that being said, all of the waterfalls on this list are generally flowing year round so if you’re in the area feel free to check them out!
Other Sights & Tourist Spots
Vancouver Island is filled with things to do. If you want to surf check out Tofino or Sooke. Tofino & Sooke are also incredible beach destinations and I have a guide on the best beaches in Sooke. If you want to hang out downtown check out Victoria and explore the city. In the winter there are a few ski resorts.
A nearby island worth a visit is Salt Spring Island, where life is slowed down and certainly relaxed. It’s a good place to head for a weekend.
If you’re into arts & crafts and a farmers market vibe, definitely head to Coombs. It’s an interesting little place where you can shop for hand made goods. Be sure to check out the goats on the roofs of the buildings!
Tips for Visiting the Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
- Pack Accordingly: The weather on Vancouver Island can change quickly so be sure to pack a rain jacket, even in the summer.
- Road Trip: Vancouver Island is the prefect place to do a road trip. Whether it’s in the Southwest to Sooke or to Tofino there are endless options.
- Use Maps.Me: This is an offline maps app that has helped me tremendously during my travels. If there’s no cell service during your trip you’ll still always have access to your maps and custom pins.
Packing List for the Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
- Salomon X Ultra Hiking Boots
- Osprey Porter 46 Backpack
- Stretch Ozonic Rain Jacket
- Collapsible Hiking Poles
Final Thoughts for the Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a great place to visit year round and there are infinite activities that will suit any traveler. I hope this article helped you add some waterfalls to your itinerary! If you have any questions about any of these waterfalls or Vancouver Island in general drop me a comment below.
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