Just off the northeast tip of Vancouver Island, Sointula is the only village on Malcolm Island, about a four-hour drive from Nanaimo. Meaning “place of harmony”, it was founded almost a century ago by Finnish settlers as an attempt to create a utopian colony. Today, it’s a commercial fishing centre, but many of the present-day residents live in previous settlers’ homes, and wooden saunas still line the waterfront. There are other ties to the past: the island is still free from urban amenities like ATM machines, and the services available are limited. The centre only includes a general store, a museum and a gas station. Beautiful hiking trails run through the rainforest and its ridges and beaches, and also through the network of 1900s settlements. You can take a whale-watching adventure or visit one of the newly built wildlife-viewing platforms perched high above the point. And you can also explore the marine life beneath the ocean: the tidal currents and cold, clear water provide an abundance of plants and creatures to see.
Top 5 things to do
- Travel to Bere Point to enjoy beach walks, a nature trail and picnic sites
- Bike along the many trails
- Shop for art and crafts in galleries
- Go on a whale-watching adventure
- Learn about Aboriginal culture