A Slice of the Mediterranean in the Heart of Vancouver Island, BC
Did you know the Cowichan Valley has one of the warmest annual temperature averages in all of Canada? It’s comparable to the Mediterranean, but right in our own backyard! You’ll find lush scenery, beautiful views and a plethora of activities for a family friendly camping trip. We visited the Cowichan Valley late in August and camped 3 nights in Lake Cowichan at Lakeview Park Campground. The campground had private beach access but as new visitors to the valley, we were ready to explore!
After travelling across from the BC mainland on BC Ferries through Nanaimo, we ventured south towards the Cowichan Valley. A must stop along the way is Chemainus. Follow the signs for easy RV parking and get your walking shoes ready. The downtown is easily set up for mural enthusiasts with foot prints leading a tour through over 40 murals (and sculptures too!). As a bonus, be sure to check out the Chemainus Candle Company down on Maple Lane for amazing beeswax products as well as the Christmas store downtown. We didn’t plan on buying Christmas ornaments in August – but we did, twice!
The Farmer’s Market is listed on all the Top Things To Do in Duncan lists, so we had to check it out for ourselves. It did not disappoint! After hitting a local coffee shop, we strolled the numerous vendors through the market, took in the performances and even bumped into Batman and Spiderman. The market truly has something for everyone. We picked up the most amazing farm bread, fresh veggies for dinner that night and the kids picked out a heaping serving of frozen yogurt – a win for everyone! As a hockey family, we also had to see the largest hockey stick and puck in the world. They even mark the perfect place to stand to capture the best “raising the stick” photo.
The Lakeview Park Campground was just a few minutes from the shops and amenities of Lake Cowichan. After dinner one evening we parked at the visitor’s centre and made the short walk to the Trans Canada Trail. Even just a simple walk surrounded by huge maples and crossing the Cowichan River was captivating. The lake itself is stunning and perfect for swimming and boating.
On a whim we opted for the 1-hour road trip to Port Renfrew to visit Botanical Beach. While the drive is pretty curvy, the scenery is beautiful and the destination is more than worth the wait. After a 1km walk or so down to the beach, you are greeted with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Witnessing the waves crashing on the rocks is an experience like none other. The beach itself is pebbly, but the rocky shelves are home to so many tide pools. We saw anemones, urchins, crabs and starfish, just to name a few.
Our visit to the Cowichan Valley was better than we could have expected. We only scratched the surface of activities available and could have easily extended our visit. Not only would we recommend this destination, but we will be sure to visit again.
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If this area interest you, check out our drives:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino
Salish Sea Route
To locate campgrounds in the Cowichan Valley, on Vancouver Island or elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.
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Spring Has Sprung! Try Some Spring Fishing & RVing on Central Vancouver Island, BC
Looking to bring out that fishing rod a little early this year? Here are four RV accessible campsites open year-round on central Vancouver Island located on or near a fishable lake or river. Beat the summer heat and enjoy some spring camping and fishing!
Arrowvale Riverside Campground and Cottages
Offering a traditional camping experience with over forty sites, Arrowvale Campground and Cottages in Port Alberni is ideal for a small family adventure or a large group camp-out. There are unserviced or serviced sites, with many close to the Somass River. Sproat Lake Provincial Park is a short drive away from the campground, where you can hike and fish the day away. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and even kokanee, a land-locked sockeye salmon, can be caught along the shore or by boat on this scenic lake.
Chemainus River Campground
Enjoy a scenic getaway at Chemainus River Campground, located on 23 acres along the Chemainus River. Soak in the views atop the river escarpment. Discover wildlife on the property, including eagles, ravens, woodpeckers, squirrels, deer and beaver. Lawn games and swimming can be found along their private beach.
This campground is in a freshwater fishing hub, with Chemainus Lake, Fuller Lake and Lake Cowichan all just a stone’s throw away. Hike around Chemainus Lake to find a secret spot to catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and brook char from shore, or bring a belly boat to explore the lake. Fuller Lake has a dock, so you can cast for larger rainbow trout living in the cooler, deeper waters. Lake Cowichan offers fishing spots from shore and boat rentals to explore the further reaches of the lake.
Horne Lake Regional Park Campground
Don’t let the unpaved road deter you from spending a weekend at Horne Lake Regional Park, located near Qualicum Beach. Over five kilometers of riverfront and lake front RV sites are yours to enjoy and explore, almost all with a view of the water. The famous Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is down the road from the campground and is fun for the whole family. A boat ramp, canoe and kayak rentals, a dock, and ample shore access allow anglers of all ages and abilities to spend their days on the water. Cutthroat trout, kokanee, rainbow trout and brook char can be caught year-round.
Riverside RV & Camping
Located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, Riverside RV & Camping is a full-service RV and camping destination. The entire site is covered by treed and grassy areas, all along the world class Cowichan River. Take your pick of RV sites, as they offer full or partial hook-ups for 50 RV units and 25 tenting spots in shady or sunny spaces. If you are looking for a beautiful day trip, venture to Lake Cowichan to enjoy fishing from shore or by boat. On foot, find a quiet spot along the Cowichan River and try your luck along the river bank.
Don’t forget to purchase your licence and read and understand the Freshwater Fishing Regulations before you head out. And if you’ve never tried fishing and want to give it a try, you can borrow a rod and tackle for free from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery in Duncan.
Share your BC travel and Camping photos using #campinbc.
Published: April 25th, 2018
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