Adventures

Beaches of Vancouver Island

NANAIMO

This mid-sized city has some surprisingly nice beaches. Right downtown you can take a small ferry from Maffeo-Sutton Park to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, which boasts beaches for both exploring and sunbathing. Departure Bay has a long, curving shoreline which at low tide has a great beach for swimming, beachcombing and launching a kayak. Heading a short distance up-Island, you’ll find well-groomed trails into beaches  at Pipers Lagoon Park, Neck Point Park and Blueback Beach.

NANOOSE BAY

The bay itself is a tad reedy and mucky but if you take the scenic coastal drive through this Island community you’ll discover beautiful beaches at Moorecroft Regional Park and Beachcomber Regional Park. At Moorecroft, a short, accessible hike from the parking lot opens up onto a stunningly beautiful cove. Sit, hike, birdwatch, explore.Further along, Beachcomber is beautiful and secluded but it’s a steep hike down (and up) and best seen at low tide. Both are great places for seeing wildlife.

PARKSVILLE

Parksville is all about the beach and there are two you must experience: Rathtrevor Provincial Park and Parksville Community Park. At high tide, the ocean laps right up to the shore; at low tide, the sea can be a kilometre away across a broad expanse of sandy beach. The sand bakes in the summer sun, the tide comes in and the water is like bath water. Heavenly. Rathtrevor is a much-sought-after camping destination so, if that’s your plan, book early online. Parksville Community Park also has an enormous playground and water-spray park for the kiddies. 

QUALICUM BEACH

Just up-Island from Parksville is another long, curving bay with a sandy beach that becomes enormous at low tide. Like Rathtrevor and Parksville, this beach is great for everything. Unlike those beaches, however, it’s not accessed through a park but rather follows the coastal Island Highway. That means there’s parking all along the way, a beautiful seawall stroll and then the beach. There’s a beach concession and a selection of nearby restaurants and accommodations.

Again, busy in summer.

COMOX VALLEY

Drive up-Island to Courtenay, turn right toward Comox, keep going straight through downtown Comox and you’ll hit Goose Spit Regional Park. No, the geese don’t spit there. Or maybe they do. It’s a sand spit great for swimming, strolling, boating and sunset photography. Just up the coast from there is Kin Beach Provincial Park, boasting a rocky beach great for picnics and exploring. Just up from there is Kye Bay, with a sweeping tidal sandy beach that’s great for swimming, boating and exploring.  Still heading up-Island, you’ll find the Seal Bay Nature Park and Kitty Coleman Provincial Park, both with rocky beaches great for exploring. There’s camping at Kitty Coleman.

CAMPBELL RIVER

Halfway between the Comox Valley and Campbell River, you’ll find Miracle Beach Provincial Park with a sandy beach that draws sun lovers from all over the world. The beach and park are great for everything. If you want to camp, book early online. Just up from Miracle Beach, where the Oyster River meets the sea, is Saratoga Beach, with two kilometres of sand stretching along the Strait of Georgia. It’s sometimes forgotten on lists of the Island’s great beaches, and for no good reason. It’s got it all, plus nearby private resorts and camping.

On the west coast of Vancouver Island are some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Almost the entire coastline between Tofino and Ucluelet is taken up with long stretches of sand pounded by surging ocean surf. Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, Middle Beach…those are just a few that appeal to surfers, sun seekers and wildlife watchers. For a complete rundown...follow this link.

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