For anyone contemplating a trip to Canada’s West coast, Comox and its companion city of Courtenay, makes an excellent destination at any time of the year. With stunning views combined with unlimited outdoor adventures and cultural activities, it is no surprise that the Comox Valley is one of BC’s top year-round destinations.
It sprawls on the east coast of Vancouver Island about halfway between the capital city of Victoria (a 2.5 hour drive south) and Port Hardy which is the last community at the northern end of the highway. Campbell River, a sport fisher’s paradise lies about an hour’s drive north. From there it is a ten minute ferry ride to Quadra Island, the largest and most populated of the picturesque and laid back Discovery Islands.
Comox visitors can also head west on a day long trip to the long and lonely beaches and towns of Tofino and Ucluelet on the Pacific Rim, or south to the bustling retirement and beach resorts, marinas and golf courses at Qualicum, Parksville and Nanaimo. As well, a ferry takes visitors and their vehicles across the Georgia Strait to the Sunshine Coast on the BC Mainland (the trip is shorter from Comox than it is from Vancouver). Victoria is less than a three hour drive south.
The Comox Valley stretches along the coast for 50 km and in addition to excellent beaches and parks, is a montage of rolling mountains, alpine meadows, rushing rivers, pristine lakes, lush forests, and fertile farms.
Within the valley, recreational opportunities are limited only by how many can be achieved in a week. The town’s tourism website offers visitors a list of 101 things to do. Along with its newest signature golf course and resort complex at Crown Isle, golfers can tee up at six nearby courses.
Anglers enjoy world class salmon fishing and sport fishing for many species of saltwater and freshwater fish but if you prefer, you can buy freshly caught seafood right off the fishing boats. There has been a dock at Comox since 1874 and many fishing charters operate from there.
The diving is excellent here in what Jacques Cousteau named the Emerald Sea. Whale watching takes on new meaning here where Orcas (killer whales) frequently swim right under the boat.
The Comox Valley is also an ideal spot for beachcombing and nature viewing. Sandy stretches of beach yield intriguing shells and fossils, while the pebbled shores are filled with flat skipping stones and colourful rocks polished by the waves. For bird watchers, the valley is home to the highest concentration of over wintering waterfowl, including some 2000 Trumpeter Swans.
Comox is a land of plenty with abundant fish, wild berries, market gardens, vast oyster beads, and local chefs know what to do with this bounty. In addition to fine dining, gourmet events, cooking classes and the farmers’ market, existing activities – like the annual Mount Washington Beer Festival, open-house tours at Fanny Bay Oysters, and tastings at Middle Mountain Mead on Hornby.
Finally, Comox and Courtenay are host to several cultural events throughout the year that draw visitors from all over the island.