When it is time to start planning that family holiday there are few places better to explore than Vancouver Island’s Oceanside Region. Geographically situated just north of Nanaimo, Oceanside comprises the region from Nanoose Bay up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island to Deep Bay. The area’s population of approximately 25,000 is primarily centered in Parksville and Qualicum Beach although there are many great family attractions in the smaller communities of Coombs and Errington. It won’t take long to discover why few destinations can equal Oceanside as an all-round family getaway. http://www.visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com/
Sing a Song of Sand Dollars
This particular region of Vancouver Island boasts long wide stretches of sand perfect for discovering sand dollars, sea stars, crabs and the occasional jellyfish. With 19 km (12miles) of beautiful sandy beaches it is hard to imagine feeling crowded even on the hottest of summer days. In Parksville, the Community Beach features a terrific beachside playground and water park. When the tide is in, it is here that the warmest waters north of California are found. Endless days could be spent playing, relaxing, digging, exploring, building and picnicking on these beaches. Travel tip: Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
To Market to Market
The Coombs Old Country Market isn’t just a place to buy vegetables. On the Alberni Hwy in Coombs, the Market has been around for over 30 years. While it started as a produce stand it has grown to encompass so much more. While there is still a produce section, the market is known for its unique gift items and its atmosphere. Here you will find an ever-changing supply of unique and interesting wares. Of course, the goats on the sod roof are a big part of the fun too. Travel tip: Extra parking and a nice quiet café are up the road behind the Market.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Just a few kilometres (miles) from the Old Country Market, witness a caterpillar’s metamorphosis at Butterfly World. There are at least 400 butterflies everyday in this tropical oasis. Each week new pupae arrive from different locations throughout the world. They are hung in special mesh or glass enclosures so that visitors can see the butterflies emerge prior to being released to fly freely throughout the humid, tropical environment of Butterfly World. One of the special features of this flighty kingdom is that the butterfly’s entire life cycle can be viewed. With careful observation visitors can see eggs, caterpillars and for those with enough patience, butterflies laying eggs. Travel tip: wear bright colours.
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Tiger Lily Farm is an Errington petting farm that has progressively grown into what it is today: a hands-on experience for kids of all ages. Aside from petting sheep, chicks, bunnies, ponies and calves, children also have the opportunity to collect freshly laid eggs. The slightly more adventurous can try their hand at milking a goat. The goat’s milk is bottled and then fed to the calves. Travel tip: A farm is a farm; bring a change of footwear.
Where the Wild Things Are
Also in Errington is the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The staff on this eight-acre site provide rehabilitation to ill, injured or orphaned wildlife, such as bears, owls, falcons, ferrets and eagles. A self-guided tour takes 15,000 visitors each year through a virtual outdoor museum of West Coast animals. The 43m (140ft) long eagle flight cage allows a close up look at these powerful birds. Travel tip: Adopt an animal at http://www.niwra.org/ before you go, and receive a free entry pass.
By Marci Bulloch
Sizzling Summer… Mile High Chairlift Rides, lift accessed Mountain Biking, Alpine Hiking and Eco-tours, Conference, Banquet and Wedding Facilities. White Winter…Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding on 1600 acres of steep and deep, Night Skiing and Snow tubing 50 km of Cross Country Trails, Snowshoeing.
Riptide Lagoon Miniature Golf
Riptide Lagoon offers two challenging 18 hold themed courses. Play through “Wandering Willie’s” snug little harbour, have your picture taken with the “Catch of the Day” and enjoy an ice cream on the patio. Bring the whole family and experience mini golf at its finest.
Strathcona Provincial Park
Designated in 1911, Strathcona is the oldest provincial park in BC. You can access some of the best boardwalk hiking trails from Mount Washington to some of the best swimming lakes on the Island.
French Creek Marina
We purchase our wild salmon directly from local fishermen, ensuring that we always have the freshest, most sustainable seafood available. The French Creek Seafood Market always carries a wide variety of sustainably harvested, fresh local seafood, including Sockeye Salmon, Pacific Halibut, Pink Salmon, Spot Prawns, Coho Salmon and Albacore Tuna. Our MSC-monitored facility was recently awarded the MSC Marine Stwardship award for sustainable fishing practices, an award that we’re highly proud of. French Creek Seafood is also EU Certified French Creek
Seven Wonders of Oceanside
Local Parksville and Qualicum Beach region residents and visitors alike were encouraged to vote for the attractions they felt best represented the truly unique experience of our region between August 1 and August 31 of 2007. These 7 attractions offer something for everyone and should be on your don’t miss list. For a CALENDAR OF EVENTS visit here.
Horne Lake Caves
Spelunking is an exhilarating family or extreme adventure. Guided tours are available all summer. Wear good shoes and bring a sweater as the temperature inside the caves is much cooler. http://www.hornelake.com/
The Old School House Arts Centre
A heritage building home to three galleries. The gift shop showcases over 100 Vancouver Island craftspeople and paintings by local artists. http://www.theoldschoolhouse.org/