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The road to San Josef from Port Hardy can be driven in any vehicle. You will encounter many sedans, compacts, campers, and mini vans on that road in the summer. It is gravel, but is a public road, not an industrial road, so anyone is allowed to drive it and will be covered by insurance. The biggest issue is it sees a lot of passenger car traffic, so is heavily potholed if not recently graded, so take your time. It is a busy road, so if you were to break down, someone will be along, typically within 10 minutes, so you at not out of reach of help.
Not sure what the attraction is to “hack your way” down to a pristine wilderness beach. Sounds like you might screw up the place for the next people who are happy to walk through the woods to the beach and camp there without having to drive their Jeep there at all costs.
There is no honest beach running of any real measure on Vancouver Island. You can drive out in a couple places, but if it’s something you are obsessed with, there is opportunity in Washington State, and in Oregon, to put lots of sand miles under your tires, in areas where it is encouraged and a real thing.
From one Cody to another: as beer-n-meat has said, a totally crap time to be poking about looking for trails unless you want to set the South Island ablaze. There is nothing for wheeling close to Victoria, but west of Sooke and North of Duncan things open up more.
The roads are fine. Some sections get a little potholed and have some exposed “baby heads”, but the route you are describing can be easily driven in a civic if you keep your speed reasonable. You will meet all sorts of family sedans and mini-vans taking the same route.
The load index will be specific to a certain tire size and may change between tire sizes when the ply-rating does not. For instance, a certain brand and model may all be “e-rated”, but each individual size will have a specific load index that that size of tire can handle. A 285/75/16 E-rated tire may have a different load index than a 265/70/16 E-rated tire even though they are both “10-ply/E-rated”. It’s probably not a value you need to worry a whole lot about unless you know you are fitting a specific camper or plan on carrying a lot of weight. Worth looking at regardless when you are making up your mind. Google has reasonable explanations of load index on several sites.
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