Vancouver Island's Beach Bliss

Nestled on a sandy shore overlooking the Strait of Georgia, Parksville is a friendly spot on the south-central coast of eastern Vancouver Island with a laid-back, small-town vibe. Circled by raw, natural beauty, Parksville is popular among beachgoers, nature lovers and those looking for a slower pace of life.

The vast, cobalt ocean stretches as far as the eye can see and miles of golden, sandy beaches greet the ocean.

When the tide retreats, the beaches reveal a treasure trove of life. While away the hours digging up clams, collecting sand dollars and sea shells and feeling the rhythm of the waves hitting the shore. Seals pop their heads out of the salty water, only to vanish again moments later. Hundreds of seabirds circle in the sky and congregate on the beach.

The spectacular forests in Parksville and Qualicum Beach have been designated a United Nations Biosphere Reserve because of the range of life they support. Embracing five distinct climatic zones, the local habitat spans the extremes between alpine meadows and lush, sea-level gardens. Boardwalks and well-worn trails through the cool forest make it easy to find shelter from the hot summer sun and local rivers provide ‘swimming holes’ for a refreshing dip.

Each summer the beaches in Parksville become a canvas for sand castle artists during the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition which draws master sand sculptors from around the globe. There’s plenty of opportunity and inspiration for amatuer participation on the beaches, as well.

The small town feel of Parksville is reinforced by the presence of farmer’s markets, craft fairs and local eateries. It’s easy to rub elbows with the locals here as a warm smile and a welcoming ‘hello’ greet visitors in the boutique shops and local coffee houses. Don’t expect big box stores and high fashion here, but local, hand-made, artisan goods will tempt even staunch non-shoppers. Local art galleries and shops highlight the local First Nations culture and rich heritage which influences the area. Keep watch for totem poles and intricately-carved masks and learn the stories and legends that run deep through the culture.

Take a trip out on the water and get a feel for the ocean. Guided boat tours, local kayak outfitters and dive shops can help find a suitable way to explore the water. Or ‘take the waters’ in a more traditional sense and indulge in a spa treatment from one of the many local spas. Take relaxation further and pop in to a local yoga studio for some holiday zen.

Towering behind Parksville, rugged Mount Arrowsmith boldly juts into the blue sky. Nearby provincial parks are home to wild waterfalls and lush forests of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock, arbutus and maple trees.

While most visitors enjoy spending lazy summer days lounging on the beach and playing in the ocean, Parksville is also a superb destination for kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. With six excellent golf courses in the area, there is no better place on Vancouver Island to golf!