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Breathe life into your story with a visit to Parksville Qualicum Beach. We offer a “visiting journalists” program year-round where we can offer assistance with developing detailed itineraries, setting up accommodations, activities, and providing you with information and ideas for your stories. To ensure that we tailor your visit to Parksville Qualicum Beach that suits the specific needs of your assignment, please complete the Media Information Form and submit several weeks in advance of your proposed visit. We review all requests for visit assistance on a case-by-case basis. Once we receive your request, we will be in touch.
PARKSVILLE, BRITISH COLUMBIA - A discovery-filled vacation waits visitors to Parksville Qualicum Beach. A short drive from the B.C. Ferry Terminal in Nanaimo and just a three-hour trip by car and ferry from Vancouver, this sheltered eastern region of Vancouver Island welcomes guests to the year round delights of its unique towns and villages. Offering a quirky blend of activities set against a magnificent backdrop of mountains and old growth rainforest, Parksville Qualicum Beach is a chance to connect with nature, with family, and with the lively local culture.
Parksville Qualicum Beach’s culture and history is diversely marked by the cultural traditions of the Coast Salish people, early European exploration and settlement, and the development of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The region’s appeal as a holiday destination started when at the turn of the last century, the Harrison family left England for a new life in Canada and built Harrison’s Beach Camp, the region’s first holiday cottages. Thus began an exciting and storied future for Parksville Qualicum Beach.
In 1937, Horatio “Ray” Milner, a renowned philanthropist and businessperson from Alberta, purchased a 28-hectare estate at Qualicum Beach as a retreat from his busy life. He and his first wife, Rina, immediately began work on their garden. After Rina’s passing in 1952, Ray married Veronica and the couple did more extensive work on what is now known as Milner Gardens. Born of British aristocracy and a relation of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince and Princess of Wales in fact visited Milner Gardens in 1986, and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the estate in 1987. Other notable celebrities that have graced the region over the years include Bing Crosby, John Wayne and the King of Siam.
Today, the gentle climate on Vancouver Island’s sheltered east coast beckons visitors throughout the year. With a beach that extends a kilometre at low tide, host of marine activities, outdoor adventure, thriving arts and cultural scene, events including the Parksville Beach Festival and its sand sculpting competition, Parksville Qualicum Beach is the place to be.
Visitors will stare awestruck at the giant, 800-year-old Douglas fir trees that loom in nearby MacMillan Provincial Park’s Cathedral Grove. Channel your inner Indiana Jones by taking a guided tour of the Horne Lake Caves. Or, saddle up and go horseback riding at Tiger Lily Farm, where the youngest family members can pet bunnies and calves. From mountain biking to hiking to kayaking, visitors to Parksville Qualicum Beach can choose their own level of adventure.
Quirky attractions abound, from the goats grazing on a grass-covered roof at the Old Country Market in Coombs and Old Woman’s Shoe at Paradise Fun Park, to suspended, spherical treehouse accommodation at Free Spirit Spheres. For gastrolusts, sample delicious Qualicum Spice Cheese and fruit wines at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and the adjoining MooBerry Winery, and savour prawn curry and locally brewed beers at Bistro 694 to the strains of jazz music. Those looking to relax and rejuvenate, The Grotto Spa offers 20,000 square feet of spa bliss, and is consistently recognized as one of the best around.
From fishing to festivals, shopping to galleries, and butterflies, birds, and bears, Parksville Qualicum Beach makes for a refreshingly timeless getaway.
6 - golf courses
Parksville Qualicum Beach golf is about taking time to do something for yourself while enjoying unparalleled outdoor beauty. When you're not looking down at your ball, you'll be looking up at the mountains, second growth forest, wildlife, lake, and the ocean. Bring family and friends or come alone and team up with some locals. And because of our mild climate, all seven of our Qualicum Beach and Parksville golf courses are open almost 365 days a year.
5 - kilometres of beachfront
Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville is one of the province's most popular family destinations. The attractions include sea (five kilometers of beachfront), forest (complete with a circular, oceanfront trail) and parkland. At low tide, the ocean recedes an impressive kilometre back from Rathtrevor's shoreline.
1000 - handcrafted glass floats and sea creatures
From November to April, beachcombers can discover ‘Tidal Treasures’ in Parksville Qualicum Beach. An army of Float Fairies hides more than 450 handcrafted glass floats and 560 fused glass sea creatures - starfish, seahorses, sand dollars, scallops have been hidden in high tide line on beaches stretching from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay. Find one, keep it!
2,285 - Brant Geese counted in a day
On April 17, bird counters saw a total of 2,285 Brant in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The Brant Wildlife Festival held each spring celebrates nature with many fun activities for all ages. Events range from Spring Break Nature Camps for kids to wildlife viewing opportunities and guest speakers.
1000 - underground caves
Vancouver Island is the largest island on North America’s west coast and offers the highest concentration of caves in North America. There are over 1200 km2 of cave features to explore and more explored limestone caves here than in all other Canadian provinces combined. Vancouver Island is so rich in caves, with more than 1,000 recorded, that it is sometimes referred to as the “Island of Caves“.
2,500 - square foot mineral pool
The Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara offers an experience beyond the expected. Designed to emulate a natural stone grotto, the 2,500 square foot warm pool is infused with natural minerals and trace elements to detoxify the body and rejuvenate the spirit.
800 - year old giant douglas fir trees in Cathedral Grove
Cathedral Grove is a BC Provincial Park preserving a section of lush old-growth forest that is unique to Vancouver Island. Spend a few hours wandering Cathedral Grove's trail system and gazing up at 800 year-old giant Douglas Fir trees. Cathedral Grove gives the visitor a sense of what Vancouver Island and the west coast looked like before the arrival of European settlers.
30 - hours of sand sculpting
The Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition is a world class event for Master Sand Sculptors and is an official qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting! Master Sand Sculptors travel from all corners of the globe to participate in our remarkable competition and exhibition in Parksville. Sculptors have 30 hours over four days to create their their masterpieces from just sand and water.
2 - thirst-quenching craft breweries
Craft beer lovers looking for a spot to base their Vancouver Island tasting adventures need look no further. Not only is Parksville Qualicum Beach home to two craft breweries, it's also only minutes from seven more in the neighbouring communities of Courtenay, Cumberland, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni.
100 -artists featured at the Old School House Arts Centre
The Old School House Arts Centre, a heritage building that is home to 3 galleries featuring monthly exhibitions by B.C. Artists. The Gift Shop showcases over 100 Vancouver Island Craftspeople and paintings by top Local Artists. Watch 15 Resident Artists practice their craft, painting, pottery, jewellery, and photography.
589 - injured wildlife taken in by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
Visit the rescued black bears, eagles, owls, falcons, ravens and other wildlife at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The centre is a world-class rehabilitation facility with an interactive learning and education centre. Last year the centre took in 589 injured wildlife to try and rehabilitate.
As Parksville Qualicum Beach transforms into a vibrant hub of young entrepreneurs, two new breweries have recently opened its doors to serve up some of the finest brews in BC. LoveShack Libations is a new nano-brewery in Qualicum Beach. Founded by Dave Paul who moved from Whistler to Qualicum Beach in 2005, LoveShack Libations was inspired when Dave lived in a tent for six weeks while he built a 12’ x 16’ shack - The Love Shack. LoveShack Libations has since opened a tasting room where he sells and serves small batch, hand-bottled, bottle-conditioned beer, crafted with love. Mount Arrowsmith Brewing headed by Head Brewer Dave Woodward is brewing up crisp west coast ales. Their west-coast themed tasting room is just the place to come for a tasting flight or 12oz sleeve of fresh, local beer.
Vancouver Island is home to the highest concentration of caves in North America with over 1200 km2 of cave features and more explored limestone caves than in all other Canadian provinces combined. Vancouver Island is so rich in caves, with more than 1,000 recorded, that it is sometimes referred to as the “Island of Caves”. Visitors have the incredible opportunity to view amazing crystal formations, ancient fossils or even climb an underground waterfall. Tours range from the easy 1.5-hour Family Riverbend Cavern Tour where children and adults alike can learn about the fascinating geology and history of these amazing caverns, to the 5-hour Extreme Rappel.
Glass floats on the beach. From October to May, visitors can discover glass treasures on the beaches of Vancouver Island's Oceanside region. An army of Float Fairies will drop and hide more than 300 handcrafted glass floats and hundreds of other dazzling glass sea creatures… starfish, seahorses sand dollars, scallops, above the high tide line on beaches stretching from Nanoose Bay in the south to Deep Bay in the north.
Birds of a Feather - Brant Wildlife Festival
Each year in the spring, Parksville hosts the annual Brant Wildlife Festival that revolves around the return of the Brant Geese, making their way from Mexico and California up to Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. Arriving in early March in large numbers brant geese can be seen along the east coast of Vancouver Island which provides an important stop along their way. For the past 22 years a festival has been held in Parksville Qualicum Beach to celebrate the brants’ return; at the peak of the stopover there can be as many as 20,000 geese.
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks - home of Canada’s first Milk on Tap
Set amongst the trees and pastures, the picturesque farm and home to cows, horses, bunnies, pigs and more. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks produces a selection of world-class artisan cheeses. The high- quality milk from the farm’s own herd of dairy cows is pumped over to the Cheeseworks each morning where the farm’s talented team of cheesemakers create a new batch of cheese each and every day. New to the farm and inspired by the popularity of refillable growlers in the craft beer industry, the Gourlays realized their dream of offering visitors a taste of sweet, full-fat, straight-from-the-farm milk (albeit pasteurized, by Canadian law) 100 meters away from the cows from which the milk came.
Dive into Something Different: The Grotto
The Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara offers an experience beyond the expected. Designed to emulate a natural stone grotto, the 2,500 square foot warm pool is infused with natural minerals and trace elements to detoxify the body and rejuvenate the spirit. Wind down in its Relaxation Lounge while you enjoy complimentary fresh fruit along with a selection of teas and coffee. Or, experience a dining experience unlike any other in Canada. The Treetop Tapas & Grill is reserved exclusively for robed spa guests where you can choose from one or two items, or indulge in the “Endless Tapas,” sampling as many its as you with from the Chef’s selection.
Wellness to Wilderness: North Island Wildlife Recovery Association
From owls and bears to cougars and eagles, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association (NIWRA) has been a safe haven filled with hope, love and care for wild animals. Founded by Robin Campbell in 1985, NIWRA began when he came across a Great Horned Owl tangled in a neighbor’s fence. Robin made the decision then and there to form a place to help animals that are ill, hurt or orphaned. The NIWRA’s mission is to care for ill, injured and orphaned wildlife and to educate the public on wildlife and environmental issues. Since opening its doors, NIWRA has made life-long changes for many animals including Knut, a black bear that was born in captivity after being rejected by his mother, or Sandor, a bald eagle that was admitted to the centre with a severely broken wing.
Wet and Wild: Adventuress Sea Kayaking
Some of the best kayaking around is found in the Oceanside communities of Nanoose, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.Sweeping mountain vistas across the Strait of Georgia, islands to explore, curious harbours seals, colourful seastars and boisterous sea lions awaits visitors. Whether it’s the 2-hour Sea Lions Tour (in season) or the Seaside Tour, a Sunset Paddle or a Full Moon Howl, Adventuress Sea Kayaking’s day trips are perfect for families and beginners. No experience required! For the more adventurous, the 4-hour Mistaken Island or Winchelsea Islands tour includes a stop on the beach to enjoy a relaxing picnic. Paddle past seal and sea lion haul-outs as they glide up to greet you, hear First Nation and local history and peer beneath your kayak to discover the rich diversity of marine life.
“Forest Bathing” is a growing trend that is about immersing oneself in the healing properties of trees and plants. Taking a walk in natural green spaces not only can really help clear your head, but in a recent Japanese study, researchers found those exposed to forest settings had greatly improved cortisol (stress) levels, pulse rates, blood pressure, and parasympathetic nerve activity levels versus those who were exposed to urban settings. Inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere”, forest bathing involves simply walking — quietly, slowly and deliberately — in a forest, and taking in the sounds, scents, colours, forms and general vibe of nature.
Gary and Ronda from Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours take guests on a tour from Parksville to an off-the-beaten-track ancient forest with old growth trees and native plants, for a gentle walk in the woods. There, guests will absorb the forest’s healing ambience including the inhalation of wood essential oils, similar to natural aromatherapy, and visual, auditory, and other sensory stimuli. The result? A host of health benefits, including a boosted immune system, an increase in cancer-battling proteins, and improved blood pressure, among others.
Fire it Up!
A small group of professional potters showcasing functional and artistic pottery demonstrating raku, pit-fired, electric, gas and wood-fired pieces. Each month, Pyromania hosts a Public Raku Firing. Guests choose from a selection of starfish, seahorses, fish, vases or hearts, then glaze it with the help of their potter’s. Watch as it transforms through the magic of fire into a beautiful artwork created by you! Cost is $20 per piece selected.
The Old School House Arts Centre
With over 30,000 visitors each year, The Old School House Arts Centre, the “mini Granville Island” of Parksville Qualicum Beach if you will, is the artistic focal point for the picturesque community of Qualicum Beach. The mandate of The Old School House Arts Centre is to foster a vibrant arts centre that promotes and encourages the development of multi-dimensional artists and musicians for the enjoyment of all ages, residents and visitors alike, in Qualicum Beach and throughout central Vancouver Island. From weekly concerts ranging from classical to jazz, to workshops, artist’s studios and more, The Old School House is worth the visit.
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