Campbell River has long billed itself as the Salmon Capital of the World but it’s so much more.
Situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, where the Strait of Georgia meets the narrows of Discovery Passage, Campbell River is your gateway to a wild West Coast adventure. If you want to see whales, dolphins and bears, this is the place to be. At the end of the day, this vibrant city offers a full range of accommodations, eateries, services and amenities — even an artisanal distillery!
Every years millions of migrating salmon have to squeeze through Discovery Passage to travel between the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait. That means the best salmon fishing in the world, right off Campbell River! A long list of charters are waiting to lead you to Chinook, Kings, Springs, Coho, Silvers, Sockeye, Pinks and Chum. Or maybe you’ll snag a cod, halibut or snapper. The salmon fishery is year-round but the experts say the peak is July-September.
When it comes to eating salmon, you’ve got some competition. Whales, dolphins, sea lions, bears and eagles are in healthy abundance in Campbell River, making it a hub for adventure-tour operators. Pick the one that best suits you: Zodiacs, kayaks, helicopters, float planes — you can even snorkel and scuba dive with the salmon!
49 North Helicopters, based at the airport in Campbell River, offers four-hour whale-watching tours in partnership with Discovery Marine Safaris, as well as shorter tours over the impressive Comox Glacier, the mountains, Strathcona Park, the Discovery Islands and the sparkling Strait of Georgia.
Campbell River has both wild beaches full of intertidal sea creatures and broad, sandy beaches for sunbathing, swimming and playing. Miracle Beach, in Miracle Beach Provincial Park, is broad, safe and sandy and very popular. Nearby Saratoga Beach is another beautiful white, sandy beach. Stories Beach is a little wilder and rockier and great for swimming and windsurfing.
Stroll down the 600-foot-long Discovery Pier, eat an ice cream from the concession and cast a line over the side. Canada’s first salt-water fishing pier, it features rod and tackle rentals, built-in rod holders, bait stands, cleaning tables and, if you get lucky, picnic tables for eating your catch!
DISCOVERY PASSAGE AQUARIUM
At the Discovery Pier you’ll find the Discovery Passage Aquarium, where you can see, touch and feel the incredible abundance of marine species that inhabit Discovery Passage.
MARITIME HERITAGE CENTRE
Also near the Discovery Pier is the landmark Maritime Heritage Discovery Centre. Explore the history of boating and fishing in the area — the boats, the gear and the people. See the fully restored BCP45 fishing seiner that once adorned the back of the Canadian $5 bill.
A short distance from downtown Campbell River, Elk Falls Provincial Park features a thundering waterfall, the Quinsam and Campbell rivers, forest trails, spawning salmon and a really cool suspension bridge over Elk Falls Canyon and the headwaters of the Campbell River. Great hiking, biking, swimming, fishing and camping. While you’re there, visit the nearby Quinsam salmon hatchery.
Situated between ski resorts at Mount Cain and Mount Washington, Campbell River offers comfortable access to two top skiing destinations. Mount Cain, about halfway between Campbell River and Port McNeil, offers skiers, snowboarders and backcountry skiers deep powder and 21 runs with a peak elevation second only to Whistler in B.C. Mount Washington Alpine Resort offers superb snowboarding and skiing, as well as alpine hiking, mountain biking, bungee trampolining and mini and disc golf.
SHELTER POINT DISTILLERY
Located on a 380-acre seaside farm just south of Campbell River near Saratoga Beach is this truly unique ‘field-to-flask’ artisanal distillery. Watch skilled craftsmen using traditional Scottish techniques turn fields of barley, spring water and crisp sea air into award-winning single malt whiskey, an unconventional barley vodka and a wonderful orange, spice, maple Sunshine Liqueur. Tour and taste!