Enjoy the panoramic river and sea views, sandy beaches, scenic forest trails and lively festivals of this charming ocean-side community on Vancouver Island.
Parksville Qualicum Beach is a popular and family-friendly vacation destination, consisting of Parksville along the Englishman River and nearby village of Qualicum Beach. Together, the twin cities offer an irresistible mix of beach culture, wildlife, outdoor adventures and Canadian hospitality.
The area boasts the warmest ocean swimming on the West Coast and over 11-miles (18-kilometers) of sandy beaches, so start your holiday with sunbathing, ocean kayaking or surfing. Fly a kite or play beach volley at Parksville Community Park.
For some pampering, enjoy spa treatments at Grotto Spa in Tigh-Ma-Mara Resort. Afterwards, explore the boutique shop at West Second Avenue in Qualicum Beach.
Venture further out and join a whale-watching tour or black bear and grizzly bear excursion. Avid hikers can choose between many national parks, including the beautiful Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park and MacMillan Provincial Park with its ancient Douglas fir trees. Tour the Horne Lake Caves to see the seven-story underground waterfall. In spring, the return of the Brant geese is a birdwatcher’s highlight.
To taste the locally roasted coffee, artisan cheese and fresh seafood of British Columbia, browse the spring and summer markets. Coombs Old Country Market delights visitors with its mascot goats, grazing away on the grass-covered market rooftop. On Tuesday nights, visit the lively Parksville Summer by the Sea Street Market, with 140 artisan stalls, food and entertainment.
Qualicum Beach has a regional airport and Vancouver International Airport is 80 miles (129 kilometer) away. While there are buses, renting a car or bike is recommended, to explore at your own pace. Ferries run to Lasqueti Island.
If possible, time your visit with one of the atmospheric festivals. The most wonderful of all is the Christmas Magic light show in Milner Gardens and Woodland. The hugely popular Uncorked Food and Wine Festival in February has anything from wine tastings to wine-inspired spa treatments. In May, join the chili tastings and ice carvers at the Fire & Ice Street Festival. Sand sculptors compete during the Parksville Beach Festival in summer.