Welcome to Canada’s Riviera!
Just up-Island from Nanaimo is the amazing vacation destination of Parksville-Qualicum Beach. You’ll find world-class visitor experiences here you won’t find anywhere else. For starters, there’s a whole string of big, curving sandy beaches just waiting for your towel and your toes. And between them are incredible coves full of sea life. Just turn over a rock! Plus, there are so many seaside hotels, motels and resorts that there’s even an entire street named Resort Way! Many visitors have found their favourite places to stay and they keep coming back year after year. And don’t worry about shopping and dining. There’s everything you’d want and more, and a lot of it’s just a stroll from the beach!
Okay, you’re getting the theme here. It’s the beach! The east coast of Vancouver Island. The sparkling Strait of Georgia. The distant snow-capped purple mountains. Life is good. This is a kid-safe, sun-kissed paradise: sand castles, wading, swimming, tossing a ball, throwing a frisbee. For older kids: kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, fishing — these are all things the locals do, so join in the fun! Rathtrevor Provincial Park, Parksville Community Park, Qualicum Beach — you don’t have to pick one. At low tide, they’re all one big beach!
Look, it’s all kids stuff but maybe some things a little more than others. Parksville Community Park has a huge adventure playground and spray park for the kiddies, as well as a skate park, beach volleyball courts and even an outdoor gym. Just up from the beach, the big castle tells you you’re at Paradise Fun Park with two elaborate 18-hole mini-golf courses, a motel and an RV park. Just at the corner of Resort Way and the Oceanside Drive coastal highway is the Riptide Lagoon Adventure Park, featuring two mini-golf courses, laser tag, bumper cars and an arcade.
This is a real working farm where cows graze contentedly in meadows surrounded by snowcapped peaks. Clarke and Nancy Gourlay invite you to tour the farm, watch the cows being milked, check out the pigs, calves, goats, sheep, bunnies and donkeys, and stay for a picnic under the willows by a beautiful pond. Guess what else? They make gourmet cheese sought after the world over. And they make their own fruit wine! All of which of course you can sample and buy in the Farmgate Store.
Want a break from the beach? Welcome to Milner Gardens & Woodland, a 28-hectare (70-acre) seaside garden visited by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Stroll winding pathways through ancient Douglas fir forests. Meander through magical woodland gardens lined with rhododendron, cyclamen and trilliums. Enjoy afternoon tea in historic Milner House.
Too sedate? Why not jump out of an airplane? SkyDive Vancouver Island operates seven days a week out of Qualicum Beach Airport and you’d be amazed by the number of people who are taking the plunge. Then again, imagine hanging up there against the blue sky, surrounded by mountains, the beaches, the sparkling sea. Maybe they’re not so crazy after all!
Just inland from Parksville and Qualicum Beach are some unique nature experiences you won’t want to miss. The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is a world-class rehabilitation and discovery centre. You’ll find rescued black bears, eagles, owls, falcons and ravens, as well as an interactive learning centre, all in a serene natural setting. Nearby is the very different Butterfly World & Gardens. It’s full of butterflies and moths — including one with a 10-inch wingspan! — all around you sipping on orchids, flowers and other plants from around the world.
HORNE LAKE CAVES
Vancouver Island’s mountains are seamed with limestone and that means amazing caving adventures. Horne Lake Caves offers unique, safe and accessible caving adventures for kids and adults alike. Kids have rated it one of the Top 25 things to do in Canada! Explore underground tunnels, crystal caverns, wet and wild underground rivers and waterfalls. Climb ladders, ride the cave slides and discover ancient fossils.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, the Qualicum Beach Heritage Forest, the Qualicum Fish Hatchery, the Old Country ‘Goats on the Roof’ Market in Coombs, farmers’ markets, street markets, plus many, many special summertime events, including the world-famous Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition. There’s so much to see and do in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, you’ll just have to come back for more!