Out in Nature
If you love nature, you’ll fall in love with Parksville. With many regional and provincial parks, outdoor enthusiasts can hike in thick forests, kayak on the lakes, mountain bike in the mountains and feel the serenity of rushing waterfalls.
Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Park should be at the top of your list: here, towering Douglas firs that are more than a century old, along with ancient Western red cedars, line a network of easily walkable trails.
In Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park – which straddles the Little Qualicum River and the entire southern shore of Cameron Lake – impressive waterfalls cascade down a rocky gorge into a forested tableau bordered by steep mountain peaks; in addition to strolling riverside trails, you can explore the falls and swim, fish or sailboard in the lake.
Those who adore animals can plan a visit to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, where more than 227,000 wildlife have been rescued and rehabilitated.
The centre is home to more than 60 resident, non-releasable animals, as well as those who will eventually return to the wild; see them at your leisure, then visit the gardens to enjoy local wildlife in their natural habitat, including tadpoles hatching, bees pollinating and hummingbirds feeding.
For a fully avian experience, follow a self-guided tour of the BC Bird Trail. Situated on the Pacific Flyway, Vancouver Island and BC is home to some of the best bird watching in North America; here, diverse ocean, estuary, riverside, marshland, forest and alpine habitats make for busy birding hot spots.
Follow the Central Vancouver Island three-day itinerary, where you’ll see various birds while exploring the region’s charming coastal communities.
If roaming underground is more your speed, you’ve come to the right place: Vancouver Island is home to more than 1,000 caves, including some of Canada’s longest and deepest. Start out at Horne Lake Caves, the only cave accessible to the public, where multiple tours are available.
If you’re a caving newbie, start with the Riverbend Cave Explorer, an easy jaunt that takes you past beautiful crystal formations and ancient fossils while you learn about the cave’s geology.