Whenever I think of making a trip to Vancouver Island, Victoria and Tofino are the first places that come to mind, but recently I discovered a lesser visited gem; Comox Valley. The region is made up of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland, as well as some smaller communities like Fanny and Union Bay.The region really has it all, mountains, ocean, and beautiful old growth forest to explore, and the great thing is you really can explore the whole Valley, because it’s not too far of a drive to get from one spot to another. I wanted to share with you my perfect weekend in Comox Valley.
Getting to Comox Valley
There are a few different ways to get to Comox Valley. The easiest from Vancouver is probably a ferry ride. You can take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo – from there it is about an hour and a half drive. You could also opt to fly into the Comox Valley Airport from Vancouver.
Day 1: Cumberland
Locals that I spoke to told me they pride themselves on being a “forest in a village”.
The entire community revolves around the beautiful old growth forest in their backyard – so much so that they actually have been fundraising for years to buy parts of the forest back from a logging company – and then giving it back to the community. The Cumberland Community forest is filled with tons of trails, some specifically for mountain biking, others for trail runs and walks and so I started my day in Cumberland on a beautiful trail run.
After working up a sweat, and an apatite, it was time for lunch. A few locals recommended Biblio Taco and I am thankful they did. This could be home to the best burrito I have ever had – and their portions are huge and they had some really unique combinations – but they worked really well together.
What is the best thing to do on a very full stomach? Go on a hike. If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know my passion for hiking – it is the first thing I google when I visit a new place. One of the hikes in the area that was highly recommended was the Perseverance Creek Potholes. The smoothness of the pools, which has been carved by erosion was incredible to see and the deep colours of the water was so inviting. A great place to cool off after a hot day.
After a day of hiking and running it was definitely time for a treat. My first stop was Love’s Ice Cream. The homemade ice cream uses real fruit and there were endless flavour options. I also loved their commitment to using biodegradable and reusable products. After ice cream it was time for a treat of a different kind and Cumberland Brewing. Their goal has always been to share a beer with company in an inviting environment, even though I entered alone I felt like I was in a room full of buddies – people that cared about their community and local businesses – and the drinks were refreshingly delicious.
Day 2: Comox
I absolutely fell in love with this quaint waterfront town. Everywhere you went you have a view of the ocean.
I started the day with a walk along Goose Spit. The Spit is a very unique landscape, offering sandy beaches and gorgeous views of Hornby and several other islands. After taking in the views I wandered along the quaint harbour front (enjoying a coffee from Komox Grind). Along the way there are some more stunning views, this time of Comox Glacier and Beaufort Mountain Range. I then made my way over to Filberg Park where there are gorgeous flowers, a petting zoo, and even a little tea house.
After exploring the area by land it was time to get out on the water and explore by sea. I had heard of this incredible beach the locals like to call ‘Little Mexico‘. I rented a SUP from Coast Surf Shop and they actually took me out on a tour to the beach. Along the way we were followed by a curious seal before making our way to a truly gorgeous white sand beach to watch the sunset.
Once back on dry land it was time for some food. I was told by the locals Church St. Taphouse was the place to be on a Saturday night. They had great food, delicious beers on tap, and some great live music.
Day 3 Courtenay
I started the day with a run along along the spit and past the airport. It was a really beautiful place to stretch the legs and taking in that morning ocean breeze. A morning run sure worked up my appetite and so I went for breakfast at the Hog and the Hen. Don’t let the location fool you – the food here is AMAZING. I love their smoked salmon benny.
My next stop took me to 5th street where there are some of the most adorable shops I have ever seen. Classic book shops, home decor, fun gift shops, and some cute clothing boutiques. After shopping I wanted to get back out to explore the beauty of this area. I made my way a little outside of Courtenay to explore Browns River Falls. It is a beautiful wide waterfall where at the bottom there are some more popular swim holes.
After all that walking, it was the perfect time to relax and the best place to do that is at Kingfisher Hydropath. Take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and then relax in the steam cave. I am a big fan of any hydropath therapy – basically walking from through a circuit of hot and cold pools that helps blood circulation. And the icing on the cake, there is an indoor waterfall grotto.
I finished off my time here with the best greek food I have ever tasted, and that is saying a lot since I have been to Greece. Yimas Taverna is an absolute must visit.
Bonus: Fanny Bay
I didn’t have a full day to explore Fanny Bay, but I did get a chance to visit for lunch and some Oyster shucking. I first stopped at Fanny Bay Inn, located right on the water this has been the go to place for 80 years and it is the kind of pub where everyone knows your name – and the food was delicious. I ended my trip with a visit to the famous Mac’s Oyster LTD to get some lessons from the pros on how to shuck oysters.
It was an amazing trip to the Comox Valley, and I can see why more and more people are making the trip (and even move out here as it is one of the fastest growing populations in BC) but I promise you it is still a bit of a hidden gem, without the crowded tourist beaches and long waits for dining – you are going to want to make a trip here ASAP.