Whales and Wellness: Five Great Reasons to Make Victoria, British Columbia, Your Next Getaway Destination

by Amanda Eyre Ward on November 14, 2023 in Travels,

For a true escape from Texas — think whale watching tours, wellness, and cool temperatures — head to Victoria, British Columbia. This island destination offers a vacation from the hurried world and beams with ambience. 


Good morning from Vancouver Island! The sun rises over the Salish Sea from a room at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Spa. Photo Amanda Eyre Ward

Victoria boasts the mildest climate in Canada and is green year-round. The wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean and old-growth rainforests set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains makes for a favorable lifestyle and a desirable destination to visit — especially for Texans after a long, hot summer. Fly direct to Vancouver and take a quick flight or ferry ride to this lush destination. Here are five reasons you should choose sophisticated Victoria, British Columbia, the next time you need a long weekend to restore your body and Texan soul!

Harbour ferries along Victoria’s waterfront are a wonderful way to enjoy the ocean breezes. Photo Courtesy Destination Greater Victoria

ONE: World-Class Luxury Boutique Properties

Victoria is home to beautiful boutique hotels, including Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the #1 Hotel on Vancouver Island, which is nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean overlooking the Salish Sea and offering breathtaking ocean views of snow-capped Mount Baker in the distance and Magnolia Hotel & Spa, one block from the Inner Harbor and moments from the city’s best restaurants, shops and entertainment. Stay at both properties for a combination of restorative sea views and city experiences.

Located in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Magnolia Hotel and Spa has luxurious rooms with amazing views. Photo courtesy Magnolia Hotel and Spa

TWO: Gardens and More Gardens

This is the Year of the Garden in Canada and Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, embraces this concept year-round holding the title of City of Gardens. See out-of-this-world blooms, florals and foliage at The Butchart Gardens – a family-run, must-see green oasis over 100 years in the making and now a National Historic Site of Canada. In addition, The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden offers four-star guest service and exceptional food in a beautiful setting, giving guests a memory to cherish. Seasonal menus showcase regional or Abkhazi Garden-grown produce, complementing the garden’s appearance when it is in bloom. 

Enjoy the cool air with a walk in the lovely, lush Abkhazi Gardens, and be sure to make time for tea in the Tea House, which features seasonal menus. Photo courtesy Visit Victoria

THREE: Innovative Cuisine and Brand-New Food Tours

Victoria has more restaurants per person than any other city in Canada. Enjoy elegant ambiance at The Courtney Room (voted #10 in Air Canada’s Best New Restaurant Awards); farm-to-table tastes at Ten Acres and Nourish Café; and an “edible celebration” in Chinatown at the Ugly Duckling.

Beyond its incredible restaurant scene, Victoria is home to numerous food tours that offer a new twist on dining. Try the Eat Like a Canadian tour to embrace B.C. cuisine; the Downtown Food & City Tour; or the Hip & Hidden Chinatown + Old Town, which focuses on the hottest restaurants and hidden gems in this historic area. For those with a rich palette, savor the Fine Dining Evening Tour.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel overlooks the Salish Sea. Photo Mike Pepperdine

FOUR: New Wellness Offerings

Head to the harbor for Victoria’s newest wellness experience, HAVN Saunas, featuring a hydrotherapy circuit that is proven to offer numerous physical and mental health benefits. Bask in harbor views as you float in the hot tubs and cold pools. The Boathouse Spa is Victoria’s only oceanfront spa and houses British Columbia’s only licensed waterfront pool deck. A major highlight of the spa is the three heated outdoor mineral pools situated on the edge of the Salish Sea. 

A soak in a deep tub is the perfect end to an adventurous day in downtown Victoria at Magnolia Hotel and Spa. Photo Dasha Armstrong

FIVE: Whale Watching

Last but not least, be sure to add a whale watching tour to your itinerary. Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours is Victoria BC’s premier whale and wildlife watching company. They guarantee adventure with the most thrilling and transformative marine experiences on the Salish Sea. In 2022, Eagle Wing was awarded the Marine Education Award by the National Marine Educators Association for their work with youth and the community to foster environmental stewardship. In 2023, Eagle Wing received Biosphere certification from the Responsible Tourism Institute – the first and only Whale Watching operation in the world to achieve the certification.

Fall temperatures in Victoria, British Columbia, make outdoor activities like biking thrilling and nourishing. Photo Courtesy Destination Greater Victoria

Victoria is a haven — and just what this Texas mom needed. After a long weekend of saunas, culinary treats, gardens, whales, and boutique accommodations, I returned home renewed and happy. (And peeking at Zillow listings, desperate to return!)


Cover Photo Courtesy Destination Greater Victoria

Amanda Eyre Ward is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels. Amanda’s work has been optioned for film and television and translated into fifteen languages. She lives in Austin, TX, and her new novel, LOVERS AND LIARS, will be published in May, 2024.