Communities

A collection of 12 friendly and small communities, the Parksville Qualicum Beach area stretches along the sheltered Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island's eastern shore from Nanoose Bay in the south to Deep Bay in the north and inland to Cathedral Grove. Horne Lake, the historic town of Coombs, and the popular harbour at French Creek, among others, make up this eclectic region. The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve, a precious, UNESCO-designated 800 square kilometre ecosystem recognizes the region's natural significance and locals' relationship with the land.


Parksville

The Old Lady

It’s time to reconnect with nature. And what better place to do that than at the beach. Breath in the salty sea air, bury your toes in the warm sand and feel the stories of the land.

There’s a reason Parksville is known as Canada’s Riviera. Few beaches outside Mexico and the Caribbean compare with our kilometres of serene sandy beaches at Parksville Bay and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

Parksville’s Community Park, as the name suggests, really is a gathering place for all who live and visit here. Stroll the waterfront walkway and visit the famous Lion’s Venture Playground & Waterpark. There’s beach volleyball courts and even a new outdoor fitness gym and a skateboard park where all ages can enjoy many happy hours.

Just up from the beach is Parksville’s downtown. Ask a local to point you toward one of the many modern boutiques. Browse shops selling soaps, sustainable local products and rustic beach decor – all just a few minutes walk from the sandy shore.

Discover art at the McMillan Arts Centre (the MAC) is a hundred- year-old building located in the heart of town. The centre has ongoing art exhibitions and musical concerts where visitors are most welcome.

Discover history at the Craig Park Heritage Museum displays a number of heritage buildings like a blacksmith’s shop, post office and schoolhouse, all filled with artifacts and stories to tell.


Qualicum Beach

Stroll Qualicum Beach downtown for boutique shops and timeless architecture

What a quaint town! It’s a phrase residents hear a lot. And it’s true. Explore downtown Qualicum Beach and find unique, independent boutiques, shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants — with no big box or franchise stores in sight. The streets are lined by traditional architecture and there is always a colourful array of flowers, trees, planters and gardens found on every corner.

Garden lovers must experience the magic of Milner Gardens and Woodland - 28 hectares (70 acres) of unspoiled natural beauty steeped in royal history perched on the edge of an oceanfront bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia.

Qualicum Beach is a hub of artistic talent with stunning art galleries all within walking distance. Discover art at The Old School House (TOSH) at the heart of it all. This historic, hundred-year-old building is filled with local art and artists, some working while you browse. TOSH also hosts arts and culture events throughout the year.

Discover local history with a visit the Qualicum Beach Museum featuring an extensive and renowned Paleontology Exhibit as well as the Social History of the town of Qualicum Beach and area. New oral history videos let visitors discover what Qualicum Beach was like when it was a retreat for the rich and famous such as Bob Hope and the King of Siam.

Just steps from downtown Qualicum Beach is the town’s pla ground, swimming pool, skate park, BMX track, sports fields, and off-leash dog walking trails.

Join the locals and walk the waterfront promenade lined with picnic tables, shade trees, a wash/change room, and lots of parking. Kayak and standup paddleboard rentals are available during the summer months.


Arrowsmith Coombs Country

The Goats on the Roof are the most famous icons of Arrowsmith Coombs Country

South and West of Parksville is Arrowsmith Coombs Country, named after towering Mount Arrowsmith that is partially responsible for the enviable micro-climate surrounding Parksville Qualicum Beach. Arrowsmith Coombs Country is a collection of rural communities including Coombs, Errington, Hilliers, Meadowwood and Whiskey Creek.

Places to visit:
  • Learn about the wild animals of the region at Errington’s North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. It is open daily March through October.
  • Tamer animals can be found, and even petted, a bit further down the road at Tiger Lily Farm.
  • Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is the highlight for many visitors to this part of the region where they find easy wilderness hiking and spectacular waterfalls.
  • Peruse local produce and crafts at the Errington Farmer’s Market at the Community Park, next to the War Memorial Hall on Errington Road. This summer market also has live local music.
  • Surely visitors to the area have heard of the Goats on the Roof. Coombs Country Market is where you’ll find them. Famous for its Old Country Market, the shops in this area can best be described as eclectic.
  • Other flying creatures can be found at Butterfly World and Gardens, with its dazzling array of insects, reptiles and flowers.
  • Take a dip in Cameron Lake and see if you can spot the Loch Ness monster-like creature that has been sighted for centuries.
  • Stop at MacMillan Provincial Park for the 800-year-old trees towering over 80 metres to get a hint of what BC forests used to be like and you’ll understand where the park’s more familiar name comes from: Cathedral Grove.

Nanoose Bay

The Notch is a popular Nanoose Bay hike - the view is spectacular.

Nanoose Bay has some incredible day hikes, among towering old growth fir and twisted red arbutus trees. Nanoose Bay is located at the South end of the Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

The highlights of the Highway 19 route through Nanoose Bay include the Arbutus Meadows Event and Equestrian Centre and the world’s tallest gnome (7.91m), now recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records. If you want to experience all Nanoose Bay has to offer, take the scenic route on Northwest Bay Road through the heart of the community.

Stop in the quaint Red Gap commercial hub for a coffee break or some grocery shopping. At Powder Point Road you can take a short hike up The Notch to admire Garry Oak and Arbutus meadows, and spectacular views of the Strait of Georgia and across to the mainland.

Nanoose Bay is also home to the Fairwinds Golf Club, marinas, recreation facilities, and hidden beaches. Moorecroft Regional Park, our newest regional park, has amazing trails through remote forest and along rocky shores. Among the many stops of interest are the Nanoose Edibles Farm, The Rocking Horse Pub, an authentic English-style pub with garden patio, and Pacific Shores Resort and Spa. The restaurant at this resort, The Landing West Coast Grill, has a breathtaking floor-to-ceiling 27,000L saltwater aquarium with native ocean life to entertain diners.


Lighthouse Country

The Deep Bay Marine Field Station is one of Lighthouse Country

North of Qualicum Beach is the charmingly rustic Lighthouse Country, named for the lighthouses on Sisters Island and Chrome Island. The region includes the communities of Dashwood, Qualicum Bay, Dunsmuir, Bowser, and Deep Bay, and is home to Island Scallops.

This peaceful stretch of coast is a sea lover’s dream where you won’t find flashy tourist sites. Nile Creek is home to a small hatchery where volunteers are responsible for restoring pink salmon to record numbers. Today it is known as a world-class fly-fishing destination.

Experience real adventure at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park. Stop by the PineRidge Farm Market for some ice cream or fresh produce. Visit Deep Bay Marina for a nostalgic stop. Then travel down the road of crushed seashells to the Deep Bay Marine Field Station where Vancouver Island University conducts shellfish research. This state of the art building offers amazing views of Baynes Sound and tours of the facilities. Feed your artistic spirit by visiting the Salish Sea Market, filled with incredible creations by locals from jewelry to home decor items, hand made soap and paintings. Lighthouse Country’s unpretentious small inns, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds cater to visitors looking for a retreat that’s off the beaten path.


French Creek

French Creek Seafood is a popular destination at the harbour

Situated halfway between Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island's "Oceanside Route" Highway 19A, French Creek is a bustling marine community. French Creek is a popular Vancouver Island marina for its central location.

A Federal Dock complete with facilities for visiting boaters, moorage, fresh seafood sales, charter companies. You will also find the French Creek House Resort and Marine Pub here, as well as home base for the walk on ferry over to Lasqueti Island.

French Creek’s Columbia Beach is a popular windsurfing and kiteboardering destination. Morningstar Golf Club and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks are just minutes up the road from harbour.

French Creek is an annual stop on the Cadillac Van Isle 360 international yacht race that circumnavigates Vancouver Island every summer. The Cadillac Van Isle 360 runs at the same time as French Creek Harbour Days festivities offering fun for everyone.


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