Hiring a motorcycle and hitting the road is a great summer’s activity. Once you’ve felt the freedom of a motorcycle, it is a real struggle to put yourself back into a car. Isn’t someone always telling you to think outside the box?
There are plenty of motorcycle-worthy trips around BC, but Port Hardy, located at the Northern tip of Vancouver Island, is a pretty good option. You start by taking the ferry across to Nanaimo, which is a good place to stop if you want to head over Friday evening. Nanaimo doesn’t have too much to offer, but Marina’s Taverna & Pizza has the best margaritas in town (ask for the special). Accommodation can be a little sketchy. Motels offer “TVs and quilts”, which makes you wonder what they think their competition is and how having quilts puts them ahead of it.
Head north on highway 19 towards Campbell River. You can take the turnoff to 19A not far from Nanaimo which takes you along the coast past Parkville, Qualicum Beach, Fanny Bay, and Courtenay. It’s a little slower than the highway, but a nice scenic route. Plus you can’t beat the names of the town. A photo with the “Fanny Bay” sign is compulsory, despite the strange looks from the locals.
North of Campbell River the road gets curvier, more scenic and much more fun. Especially on a motorbike. Dense trees line the roads, so keep an eye out for wildlife. There are a few small towns along the way, each offering a charming history and a unique story.
Port Hardy is also a small community. A few great B&Bs are in the area, plus a few larger hotels. Port Hardy is generally a stop before taking the ferry along the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert (which is also a great – but long – trip if you have more time available). Bald eagles flock to Port Hardy in the summer. If you are lucky you can head to the fork in Hardy Bay Road and watch the birds fight and play with each other at dusk. There can be upwards of 50 eagles frolicking in the swampy waters. There are also a number of bears that live in the area.
You need a full motorcycle license to rent from Cycle BC. A weekender deal is available, where you pick up the bike on Friday night and return first thing Monday morning.