NORTH OF NANAIMO
Take a 30 minute drive north up to Parksville. Bordered by ocean and sheltered by mountains, Parksville is favoured as one of the most popular summer family vacations destinations of Vancouver Island. This is the home of the annual Sandcastle Competition. You will discover long stretches of sandy beach, great for young children, with picnics right on the sandy shores, or in the park where you can watch them play in the fantastic water park.
Rathtrevor Beach has a superb campground along with many resorts. The tide at Rathtrevor is one of the most fascinating…at low tide it can retreat to over 1km leaving the shore decorated with sand dollars and starfish. In addition to pristine beaches, Parkville has many great restaurants, trails, golf courses, and recreational activities for families…such as the enchanting mini golf course with two theme to choose from. A little further North and you will find the quaint area of Qualicum Beach. The Qualicum beach is one of the most scenic and is a great spot to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Stop by the beachside snack bar and grab an ice cream cone or/and fresh cut fries, spending an idyllic day along the shores with a great novel. The town was named in honour of Nelson Parks, its first settler and first postmaster
Coombs is located in the Parksville/Qualicum area and is a sure way to take care of an afternoon. Stop by the Coombs Old Country Market, home of the Goats on the Roof You have to see this grass covered roof that houses these goats to really believe it! Browse the funky shops, and the market for its fine selection of imported foods, sampling the artisan baked goods or testing one of the sixty flavors of ice cream they offer. Coombs is a must experience.. here on Vancouver Island.
Englishman River Falls/ Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Parks Spend a lazing, hazing summer day by the river at Englishman. Cool off with a dip in the crystal clear waters or float down the mild rapids. Also enjoy the many trails and picnic areas set up for your convenience and enjoyment. Coombs is located on Highway 4, 9 km (5.5 miles) west of Parksville. This area of natural beauty starts with Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. A hikers' dream with winding trails and bridges perched high above the rushing water. The water roars wildly through the channel in the winter, but calms down in time for summertime swimming. Mount Arrowsmith Trail starts off at Cameron Lake picnic site and winds its way up to the 6000 foot summit. The trail takes between 6 to 7 hours round trip and is strenuous but not difficult for even the novice hiker. Just beyond Cameron Lake is MacMillan Park Cathedral Grove. Massive centuries-old Douglas Fir, an incredible example of the northern rain forest. This park is interlaced with trails that everyone in the family can enjoy. Interpretive signs enhance this wonder so be sure to bring your camera.
Cathedral Grove MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is famous for, one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas-fir trees in British Columbia. A stroll on the network of trails meandering through the towering ancient Douglas-firs, some of which are more than 800 years old, can be quite an inspirational experience. Loop trails on either side of the highway lead awe-struck visitors through the mighty forest stands. The south loop showcases the largest Douglas-fir trees, with the biggest one measuring over 9 metres in circumference. The trail on the northern side of the road winds through groves of ancient Western Red Cedar to the shores of Cameron Lake. This wondrous display of Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, Grand fir and Western Red Cedar.
Mount Washington Nestled at the base of the ski slopes is Mount Washington Village, a growing mountain village of seasonal lodging and year-round chalets. This ski resort rises to a height of 1585 m (5200 ft) above the adjacent Comox Valley. Vancouver Island’s largest skiing and snowboarding area, Mount Washington Alpine Resort offers unique alpine experiences to its visitors year round. During the winter months record snowfalls create a paradise for downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing. In the summer months the alpine meadows burst into bloom and hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds take over the slopes at Mount Washington
NANAIMO AND SOUTH
Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park A quick ten minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo’s harbour front and you are on Newcastle Island. Or if you prefer a short paddle for the kayakers. (which can be rented directly from the park) Newcastle Island is a beautiful spot to spend your day exploring the island, hiking or biking on the numerous trails. Newcastle also has some of the most beautiful beaches and swimming spots. Don’t be surprised to see the 1930 era pavilion floor filled with merriment of a wedding or even a ballroom dance. It has full service catering, showers, and camping. Cruise in on your own boat, dock along the wharfs, pull out those lawn chairs and open up a frosty beverage. The island is alive bathtub week, as the fireworks display is spectacular.
Ammonite Falls is a hidden gem tucked away in Nanaimo. The most dramatic waterfall around Nanaimo is also one of its most secret ones. Ammonite Falls is one of three significant waterfalls in a series of canyons sliced deeply into the thick loam and sedimentary bedrock of Mount Benson's nether foothills. Aside from the stunning verticality of the place, the distinguishing characteristic of the park is its profusion of oceanic fossils. Hike through a pristine forest setting to reward your eyes with an amazing picture perfect waterfall. This trail falls steeply at first. After it levels out, you will see and hear Benson Creek to your left. Stay to the left and the trail will soon lead to a ridge above the creek and on to a firepit and an old road. Just across the road (don't follow the old road to the right) and to the right is a trail that will lead you in about 75 feet to the top of the falls. There are fairly secure knotted ropes to help down the last, steep, m It is so easy to find yet so many people don’t even know it’s there. Once you do, it’s hard not to want to scale the muddy banks and relax in the cool mist of the pretty falls.
Wine and Culinary of Cowichan Valley With our ideal Island’s growing conditions, the wine industry has firmly taken root in the Cowichan Valley. Our Island’s vintners are passionate about their wines, and Cowichan is quickly gaining a well deserved reputation for award winning wines. In your vineyard tour, with include a visit to Merridale Cidery. You will experience first-hand..why this area is sometimes referred to as “Napa North” an “la Prevence du Nord. In addition to sampling their wines, you may want to bring home a bottle of their balsamic vinegar.
Vancouver Island Best Destinations
Nanaimo is the perfect central location to allow easy access to all of the islands top destinations, as well as being in close proximity to the metropolitan City of Vancouver. Truly enjoy your good fortune here on the island, exploring Vancouver Island. Listed below are a few of the Islanders favourite destinations.
Victoria…. BC’s charming capital city
British Columbia's charming capital city! Located on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island, only a 90 minute drive from Nanaimo. Victoria is filled with history, culture and hospitality that is second to none. Boasting one of the mildest climates in Canada, Victoria is the ideal weekend destination for those interested in outdoor activities, be it hiking, whale watching, fishing, golfing or wandering the beautiful streets of the downtown core. Be sure to experience Victoria’s Chinatown, as it is North American second oldest China Town. While you're there, stroll along the narrowest street in Canada. Arts and culture are also very prominent: you may take a stroll through the famous Empress Hotel, or view the magnificent Legislative Buildings, or visit any one of Victoria's remarkable museums and galleries. Victoria is known for the “City of Gardens” for its majestic beauty. Just outside the city is the famous Butchart Gardens, over a hundred years old, this attraction still wows every guest that passes through its gates with its intricate displays and stunning colours. Take a Victoria Harbour Ferry to Fisherman's Wharf for some fresh fish and chips and an ice cream treat. After lunch, rent a kayak and explore from the water. It is a modern urban centre boasting a number of great restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, and some of the best museums in Western Canada. The real charm of the city is its people who take great pride in taking Canadian hospitality and friendliness to the next level! Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson's Bay Company, Victoria's British ancestry is apparent in the double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms. The city is now a cosmopolitan centre with a lively entertainment scene and a wonderful array of attractions. There is even a ferry from Victoria that will take you to Seattle Washington. Victoria is a great day trip or weekend trip for Nanaimo residents and there is an endless supply of entertainment and things to do in Victoria. The drive itself from Nanaimo to Victoria is truly one of the islands best – the views over the Malahat are breathtaking! Enjoy your central location in Nanaimo to explore the beauty of Vancouver Island.
Welcome to Mount Washington, located in central Vancouver Island, west of Courtenay. Imagine a place where everyone is smiling, the sun is shining, the snow is sparkling and you don’t have a care in the world, all you can think of is the rush of gliding down a mountainside.
Known for its spectacular ocean to alpine views, is one of British Columbia’s finest alpine and Nordic winter sport resorts and summer alpine destinations.
Warning! Visits to the Snow Zone can be addictive. Watch for signs of a rosy complexion, a steady smile and a general feeling of well being. Don't be unduly alarmed - this is normal on Mt. Washington!
The snow here is often deeper than anywhere else in British Columbia, and occasionally deeper than anywhere else in the world! That was Mt. Washington's claim to fame in late 1995. Try as they might, no matter where the staff called, no one could beat the 21 feet of snowpack that kept falling and falling. Mt. Washington has long been known for having good snow conditions from early in winter to well past Easter, despite the fact that the top of the mountain isn't as high as the peaks of Blackcomb or Whistler Mountains. In 1995, Mount Washington had more snow than any other ski resort in the world. This accounts, in part, for Mount Washington being the second-busiest winter recreation destination in B.C., behind Whistler
Summer's mile high Scenic Chairlift starts spinning on June 28! After our legendary snow melts, there is still lots ot explore on Mount Washington - come up and enjoy the Alpine to Ocean views and escape for a true island experience. Stay and Play on Mount Washington...You'll love our Island lifestyle!
With the rugged peaks of Strathcona Provincial Park and the Beaufort Range rising around you, and the Strait of Georgia stretching out at your feet, when you are at Mount Washington you know you are somewhere special. Mount Washington Alpine Resort boasts one of the most spectacular coastal alpine settings in North America; you've got to ski it to believe it!
We're not just about skiing though! In the summer season, Mount Washington's alpine playground is at your doorstep, with scenic chairlift rides, hiking, mini golf, disc golf, bungee trampoline and wildlife viewing all waiting for you to experience and enjoy. Mount Washington is also the gateway to Strathcona Provincial Park, BC's oldest, with access to both family friendly nature trails and backcountry peaks. Hike scenic alpine trails just steps from your cabin, where curious whiskey jacks pop down to say hello - you might even spot a Vancouver Island marmot on the rocky mountain slopes.
In winter, imagine a place where you can make sweeping turns in fresh powder, while a maze of islands dot the sea far below. This winter, discover vast depths of all-natural snow (out here we measure in metres, not centimetres!) and a unique Canadian destination where you can enjoy an island getaway that offers some of BC's best skiing, snowboarding and nordic sports and a breath taking ocean view with the added value of all that the Comox Valley and surrounding area have to offer.
Mount Washington is a year round destination for family fun, adventure seekers and romantic getaways. A family destination where you will laugh with the whole family while snow tubing in the winter, or taking turns on the bungee trampoline in the summer. A special place where you can relax and enjoy one of BC's unspoiled natural alpine experiences and activities to attract adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.
Pacific Rim – Tofino & Ucluelet
Waves crash on Vancouver Island’s coast.
Tofino is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes from Nanaimo and Ucluelet 2 hours and 45 minutes from Nanaimo. Spectacular Long beach is a peninsula jutting into the deep blue sea. Tofino is situated in an area of breath-taking beauty, truly a mystical place.
One of the most spectacular spots in Canada, the Pacific Rim area and the towns and beaches of Tofino and Ucluelet are by far a top destination on Vancouver Island. These little seaside communities, host long stretches of sandy, pristine beaches, dense and lush rainforests and incredible hiking creates an outdoor playground. Famous for its world renowned surfing.
Tofino has earned acclaim in Surfer Magazine and SBC Surf and has hosted the O”Neil Cold Water Classic professional surfing competition. However you do not have to be a professional surfer to enjoy the waves. You can rent yourself a wetsuit and body board and have a whale of the time!! It has been my 3 sons and my selves, most memorable summer weekend getaway for many summers.
Outside Magazine voted Tofino the best surf town in North America! Tourists and Vancouver Island residents alike take advantage of the natural playground offered in this area; whale watching, incredible fishing, surfing, hiking and bird watching are only a few of the possibilities in Tofino and Ucluelet.
In addition, great dining and accommodations are scattered throughout the area. Some of the most incredible resorts are located here. Check out the stunning Wickaninnish Inn which was recently voted as the top rated Canadian hotel by readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine and one of the top four resorts in North America for 2010! The Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet is another outstanding luxury resort where visitors can take in the panoramic views of the roaring pacific. For those on a tighter budget, there are also many motels, hotels and of course campgrounds scattered throughout Tofino and Ucluelet.
Whale watching and storm watching are popular activities in the winter months. The winter storms are festinating to watch. Also some of the best salt water fishing is found in Tofino and Ucluelet. Whatever your preference is, Tofino and Ucluelet possess incredible natural beauty, pristine beaches and adventurous activities for everyone. It is by far a top destination on Vancouver Island, more so………Canada.