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Oceanside Beaches, Rivers & Lakes

Sandcastle building at Parksville Beach, Vancouver Island, BC

Few beaches outside Mexico

and the Caribbean can compare with the 19-kilometers of near-perfect sand found on Oceanside’s namesake eastern frontier. There’s a reason Parksville is known as “Canada’s Riviera,” and Qualicum Beach has been called "Canada's Carmel".

The same gritty logic applies

up and down this special region of Vancouver Island's eastern shore where local tides and currents combined with the topography of the ocean floor create huge, flat expanses of sand at Rathtrevor, Parksville Bay and Qualicum Beach. As the water rises and recedes, one can walk to the ocean’s gentle edge before wading at ankle, then knee-deep depth far out towards a distant horizon of islands and rugged mountain ranges.

Even better news: long and sunny days pump the water temperatures up to as much as 20 degrees Celsius (about 70o Fahrenheit) in the shallows. That’s right, the water feels more Californian than Canadian! And the flat beaches make the water safe for everyone in the family, even at high tide. There’s space a plenty for barefoot jogging, beach volleyball, impromptu yoga sessions, private sunbathing and all kinds of fun in the sun. The intertidal pools dotting the sandscape are an open-air aquarium of sorts. Starfish, crabs and prized sand dollars are the catch of the day.
Qualicum Beach at Sunset

At Oceanside’s north end in Lighthouse Country, the beaches become narrower, the golden sand replaced by sprawling beds of wave-washed rock. Tougher on the toes, perhaps, but a great spot for amateur marine biologists. Turn over larger stones, and watch the hermit crabs scuttle away. And keep your eyes peeled, these northern beaches are prime for beachcombing.

In addition to the Parksville and Qualicum Beach region's wealth of ocean beaches, sunseekers and swimmers have a number of rivers and lakes to check out and enjoy. These spots will often have a few more shade options and cooler water for those really hot days.

Not surprisingly, given their central role in life here, Oceanside’s beaches host dozens of events and festivals annually. Combined with beachside restaurants, ice-cream stands, waterfront promenades and bookable rooms with a view, they’re a good reason to lay out a blanket, slather on the sun block and settle in for the duration.

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