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Located along the scenic Highway 19A — Vancouver Island’s “Oceanside Route” — French Creek is a marine community known for its central marina and ample water-based activities such as boating and charters, fishing, and viewing a wide range of marine wildlife.
Fittingly, French Creek’s area eateries offer an abundance of fresh seafood, making this destination halfway between Parksville and Qualicum Beach a perfect stop for sea-farers.
Things to Do in French Creek
The popular French Creek Harbour attracts fishing enthusiasts who wish to cast a line from the breakwater or hop aboard a charter for saltwater fishing adventure. Western Star Charters operates a 26-foot boat and provides all gear and tackle for anglers looking to reel in cod, salmon or halibut from the Strait of Georgia.
In addition to casting a line, visitors to the marina can sail on one of several water-based experiences. Take a relaxing cruise on the Lasqueti Island Ferry, which operates out of French Creek Harbour and provides access to the nearby Lasqueti Island via a 50-minute journey.
Accessible only by boat from Lasqueti Island and a popular destination among kayakers and canoers, the 243-hectare Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park is home to a winding trail system through old growth forest and multiple campsites. Those wishing to kayak or canoe off the shores of French Creek can launch their vessels from a Federal Dock in the French Creek Harbour.
Thrill seekers can venture to the waters off of nearby Columbia Beach for a memorable windsurfing and kiteboarding experience. Strong winds create large swells and breaking waves that provide a challenge to even the most experienced windsurfers, however calmer days are ideal for beginners.
As with the other communities of Parksville Qualicum Beach, you won’t have a challenge finding and admiring local wildlife. In fact, French Creek is home to some of the top wildlife viewing experiences in the region, with the marina serving as one of the best locations to spot California sea lions and harbour seals during the short-lived herring season each March.
To spot more wildlife, join Ocean EcoVentures for one of their daily Whale & Wildlife Adventures departing from the French Creek marina, with opportunities to spot killer whales, humpback whales, Pacific white sided dolphins, seals and sea lions, plus land- and sky-faring animals such as black bears and bald eagles.
In addition to the ample water-based experiences, golfers can put their backswing, strokes and putting skills to the test at French Creek’s area golf course, Morningstar Golf Club. Clocking in at just over 7,000 yards in length and host to multiple professional, national, and provincial championships in its 30+ year history, the sprawling 72-par course features greens and bunkers that carve through a dense forested area, presenting a challenge to novice and expert golfers alike. After your round, refuel at the on-site Morningstar Grill Restaurant.
Eating & Drinking
As one would expect of a marine town, seafood is central to culinary options in and around French Creek. At the marina in French Creek Harbour, shop from an incredible selection of fresh seafood at French Creek Seafood, including locally caught salmon, halibut, prawns and tuna. Pull up a chair at French Creek Social Hall for a more casual dining experience complete with stunning ocean and island views, and a menu of reimagined pub fare — including peel & eat shrimp buckets!
A few of the top dining experiences in Parksville Qualicum Beach can be found in French Creek. Sam’s Sushi serves artisan sushi and Japanese cuisine, including a mouthwatering and slightly spicy “Red Eye Roll” with prawns and tuna. French Creek Bistro offers a full breakfast all day while Salt Pizzeria — one of TripAdvisor's top-rated restaurants on Vancouver Island — serves inventive thin crust pizza creations made using aged sourdough and 100% organic flour.
A visit to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks on Morningstar Farm is a necessity for any French Creek visitor. Here, visitors can take self-guided tours to learn about the miking and cheese-making process, shop for housemade cheese and other provisions at the farmgate store, caffeinate at a coffee bar, pet dairy cows and other farm animals, and pour a cold one (cold milk, that is) at Canada’s first “milk on tap” dispenser.
Several of Parksville Qualicum Beach’s popular annual events call French Creek home, including the Brant Wildlife Festival, whose area stop includes a free Estuary Tour where participants can view wildlife — including the thousands of migrating Brant geese — and learn more about their habitats and importance to the local ecosystem.
French Creek is also a stop along the Cadillac Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, which laps Vancouver Island in the summer and is set to return in June of 2023. The race typically coincides with the family-friendly French Creek Harbour Days event.
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