Qualicum Beach, about 7.5 miles (12 km) north of Parksville beside Hwy 19A, gently spreads in front of one of the most pleasant small towns on east side of Vancouver Island. Pause here at any of the numerous beachside pullouts and smell the salt air intermingled with the perfume from the many private and public floral displays. From this point on, the pace of Vancouver Island slackens noticeably. Not that the southern portion is any more hurried, it’s just that there are more people and more congestion. From here north, there is less traffic, and what habitation there is clings to a narrow coastal plain beside the ocean.
Offshore to the east of Parksville lies Lasqueti Island, the first of several northern Gulf Islands that you catch glimpses of as the Island Highway heads north towards Courtenay and Campbell River. Farther off in the distance is the dark profile of Texada Island. Other islands closer at hand are Denman Island and Hornby Island south of Courtenay, and Quadra Island across Discovery Passage from Campbell River.
For much of the way between Courtenay and Campbell River the Island Highway runs beside Qualicum Bay, an area rich in seafood. Pullouts beside the road give easy access to the bay’s sand and pebble beaches. At several places you can buy fresh seafood, brought to the docks daily from local waters.Take your time as you meander through this laid-back region. Its rhythms are subtle, but with gentle probing they reveal themselves, showing greater complexity than first meets the eye.
The northern portion of Highway 19 runs from Campbell River to Port Hardy and Cape Scott, including access to Alert Bay, Telegraph Cove, Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park, and Cape Scott Provincial Park. As 97 percent of the population lives on the southern half of Vancouver Island, outdoor recreationists in search of solitude come north.
Much of Vancouver Island once looked as the north still does today. Thanks to recent government protection, some of the remaining wilderness, such as Brooks Peninsula, a stubby, 8.5-mile-long (14-km) projection on the northwest coast of the island, has been preserved. Other places, such as the most northerly tip of the island, are sheltered by the elements from the preying eye of industry. Cape Scott Provincial Park is one of the wildest, windiest, most woebegone locales in the province for human habitation. Journeying to either Brooks Peninsula or Cape Scott is only for those whose mettle has been tested by repeated exposure to the bellows and blast-furnace of nature in the raw.
Gentler conditions prevail in the sheltered waters of Johnstone Strait, where the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations are the traditional gatekeepers. To experience a tranquillity that passes all description, paddle these waters where whales rub and salmon run in summer months.
Circle Tours: See the best of BC when you embark upon one of the many circle tours that take in Vancouver Island, the Discovery Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. The coastal tours involve exciting road and ferry trips on BC Ferries, and scenic highways flank the coast, taking you through charming beachside communities, rolling farmlands and majestic mountain ranges. Check out the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, and other Circle Tours in British Columbia.
Location: The new Island Highway (Highway 19) has superseded the old Island highway (Highway 19A) as the way to move quickly between Nanaimo and Campbell River. Parksville, 23 miles (37 km) north of Nanaimo’s Departure Bay ferry, lies just east of the new Island Highway. For those wishing to make time, the new four-lane route will be a blessing.
For those wishing to take their time, this will mean fewer cars tailgating along the scenic ocean drive. Highways 19 and 19A link Parksville with southern Vancouver Island. Highway 4 links Parksville with Port Alberni, and with Tofino and Ucluelet on the west side of Vancouver Island. Campbell River may also be reached by BC Ferries from Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island, a 10-minute ride.
Approaching from the north, Highway 19 links Campbell River with the northern half of Vancouver Island. The top half of 280-mile-long (450-km) Vancouver Island is served by a maze of logging roads and Highway 19 (North Island Highway), which links Campbell River with Port Hardy, the southern terminus of BC Ferries’ Inside Passage and Discovery Coast routes. BC Ferries links the north and central coasts (Prince Rupert and Bella Coola, respectively) with Vancouver Island at Port Hardy.
The following towns are located on or near the Island Highway:
Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Deep Bay, Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay, Union Bay, Royston, Courtenay, Comox, Comox Valley, Merville, Black Creek, Campbell River, Woss, Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, and Port Hardy.
Discovery Marine SafarisDiscovery Marine Safaris
The diversity of wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery that exists so close to Campbell River is unparalleled. Ideally located near the south end of Discovery Passage, the area is critically important habitat for Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, and so much more. Travel along stunning shorelines and inlets in search of Killer Whales, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoises, Seals, and magnificent Bald Eagles. Embark on our Grizzly Bear Expedition and observe these incredible creatures feasting on salmon in their natural habitat far away from human civilization. Our tour boats feature an enclosed and heated cabin, two outdoor viewing decks, and an onboard washroom.
FarOut WildernessFarOut Wilderness
FarOut Wilderness is an outdoor adventure travel company specializing in overland vehicle rentals and tailor-made itineraries in British Columbia. We use our local knowledge and experience to transform your ideas into an authentic and unique adventure.
Our self-drive itineraries allow you to explore off the beaten track at your own pace. We provide you with the resources to re-connect with nature and most importantly each another. All of our vehicles are fully insured for driving on unpaved roads and are equipped with a rooftop tent, camping equipment and GPS Messenger service.
FarOut Wilderness operates in all seasons and has one pet friendly vehicle. We offer complimentary vehicle collection and drop off at the following locations: Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, Victoria Airport, Victoria Downtown, Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, Vancouver Downtown, and Vancouver Airport. If you have another collection or drop off location in mind, please contact us!
Waterfront West Real EstateWaterfront West Real Estate
Waterfront West is the first and only marketplace dedicated exclusively to buyers and sellers of waterfront and water view real estate in British Columbia. Advertising Realtors’ listings, private sales and developments, we are pioneering the market for this prime real estate. Featuring private and brokered sales, waterfront developments and a complimentary Buyers’ Club.
Black Bear Resort & SpaBlack Bear Resort & Spa
Black Bear Resort in the beautiful coastal community of Port McNeill is the newest property on Northern Vancouver Island, offering elegant accommodation on the fringe of a natural forest with beautiful ocean views. The stylish cedar resort boasts 40 tastefully decorated guestrooms each with stunning views of the protected harbour, Malcolm Island, and the coastal mountains of the BC mainland.
Practicar NanaimoPracticar Nanaimo
Practicar Nanaimo offers low rates on daily, weekly and monthly rentals for cars, passenger vans, and trucks; ferry and airport pick-up and delivery, cars also available in Parksville/Qualicum and Gabriola Island; no charge for additional drivers; minimum driver’s age 21; special packages, including self-drive vineyard tours, Tofino/Pacific Rim, Gulf Islands available.
Nanaimo is the Gateway to Vancouver Island, with convenient and frequent ferries from Vancouver as well as float plane service from both Vancouver airport and downtown Vancouver. Walk on – walk off – drive away – with Practicar rentals – free pickup at Departure Bay ferry terminal, and downtown Nanaimo float plane docks.
Practicar provides discount car rental prices with top of the line auto rental customer service. At Practicar we believe that cheap car rental can be accompanied with excellent service. With airport locations and convenient neighborhood locations Practicar strives to meet all of your car and truck rental needs; whether you are looking for airport car rental, an insurance replacement vehicle or a van or minivan to take on vacation. Drive a Good Bargain…Practicar!
Campbell River Whale Watching & Adventure ToursCampbell River Whale Watching & Adventure Tours
1561 Galerno Road
Campbell River, BC
As Campbell River’s largest tour operator, we offer excursions on and off the water. With a spacious 14-passenger van, we run Guided Hikes, Winery, Distillery, and Brewery tours. We also have 7 marine vessels that include Zodiacs and covered boats, meaning we have something for all comfort levels!
Grizzly, Whale, and Wildlife tours are available ranging from 3 hours to a full day where you can expect to see Humpback Whales, Orca, Dolphins, Porpoise, Eagles, Sea Lions, Black Bears, and Grizzly Bears!
We are the only company on Northern Vancouver Island that is Carbon Neutral, and protecting the environment is something we deeply care about. For every guest that joins us, 1 square metre of old-growth forest is protected. Join us to create memories that last a lifetime! Boasting 6 consecutive years with a certificate of excellence, you can expect to have a fantastic experience with us!
Cape Lazo RV & CampgroundCape Lazo RV & Campground
Cape Lazo RV & Campground is a 6.5 acre property with 62 full-service RV Sites and 3 tent sites. High speed WiFi and cable TV, at no additional charge. Located in the Town of Comox, metres from the beach and minutes from downtown Comox. We offer a family-friendly campground facility, playground, on-site store, and a beautiful Pavilion. Clean updated shower and laundry facilities.
The Comox Peninsula on the east coast of Vancouver Island is spectacular at any time of year, with miles of shoreline to explore and great recreation opportunities for all ages. Cape Lazo is perfect for a weekend, a week, or even months of camping in the Comox Valley. You can always count on a quiet night when you stay with us.
Beach Acres ResortBeach Acres Resort
It’s all in the name, Beach Acres Resort … miles of warm sandy beach, ocean and mountain views, acres of lush forest, and a range of resort accommodations to delight your family and friends. Our family-friendly, beachfront accommodations offer private self-contained cottages, spacious townhouses – all with two bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and fireplaces – and majestic ocean views from every window.
Situated on 23 acres of forested property bordered by Rathtrevor Beach’s sandy seashore, we offer the perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, waterfront, forest, and private accommodation … the perfect place for a relaxing vacation retreat or romantic Vancouver Island getaway. The perfect “kid-free” getaway awaits in a cozy little cottage … right on the beach.
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront ResortSunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort is a year round destination in Parksville offering gorgeous west coast inspired vacation rentals and beachfront resort accommodation. The resort offers 65 fully furnished, fully equipped 1, 2 and 3 bedroom vacation homes boasting magnificent mountain and ocean views. Pamper yourself in our newly constructed seasonal outdoor heated pool, hot tub, and fitness facility. Our guest services and friendly approach will ensure that this resort experience is one you will want to repeat again and again. Reserve your Parksville vacation rental home today and discover why you may never want to leave Vancouver Island.