The Comox Valley offers the tourist so much it is hard to put into words all
the things there are to experience here. It only takes an hour to drive the
length of it and half an hour to drive the width of it but in between the
traveller can enjoy three distinct communities, Comox, Courtenay and
Cumberland; visit two beautiful Gulf Islands, go from sandy beaches,
across the farmlands in the valley bottom to mountain meadows; fish hike,
swim, kayak, golf, ski, bike, horseback ride; all are available within minutes
of each other without the crowds you find in other areas of the Island.
The town of Comox stretches along the coast from the estuary of the
Courtenay River to the airbase which has the second longest runway in
B.C. Two major airlines fly into the airport (YQQ). The harbour is a safe
haven for the fishing fleet and the many recreational boats that visit the
area. At the public pier you can buy fish, catch fish or just watch the
activities in the marina or the harbour. Two fine pubs and a restaurant are
situated here at Marina Park. The view of the Comox Glacier at sunset is
second to none.
The city of Courtenay was established to serve the farming community in
the valley. You can shop the main street to the strains of music or dine in
one of it's many restaurants and pubs. Down by the Courtenay River you
can rent kayaks for a trip up or down the river and over to Tree Island or
down the Royston Wrecks. The kayak rentals also offer many wonderful
expeditions to various parts of the West Coast. A must for the experienced
Cumberland is a small historic town that hasn't changed that much from the
turn of the century when it was a major source of coal coming from it's
eight mines. The mines are closed now but the museum is a must-see with
it's replica mine built by former miners down in the basement of the
museum. You can take a tour around the town in a horse-drawn carriage
or take to mountain bikes and explore the old townsites of Bevin and
Chinatown along the logging roads that run along the bottom of the
mountains. Cumberland is also the gateway to Comox Lake which supplies
the Valley with its water.
Mt. Washington is the eastern entrance to Strathcona Park and offers many
winter and summer activities. The skiing is the best on the island but the
trails and flowers of summer are incredible! They offer trail rides and bike
rentals. The lift to the top of the mile-high mountain offers spectacular
views of the Coast Mountains and the Georgia Strait. From the top you can
either ride down the chairlift or walk the road down while admiring the
Beaufort Range, alpine lakes and the nearby Comox Glacier. Strathcona
Park is the oldest park in BC and contains the highest mountains on the
Island. This area is called the "Little Alps" because of it's rugged terrain.
The area is inhabited by black bears, wolves, cougars, deer and elk.
The shoreline of the Valley offers fishing and lots of beaches. Seal Bay
Park, directly opposite Mt. Washington, offers 15 miles of trails covering
1700 acres of woodland. This area has trails designated for horses, bikes
and hikers. The trails around the Swamp are a bird watchers paradise!
The Bay itself has seals, sea otters, eagles, great blue heron, ducks and
sea gulls. At it's northern end is Bates Beach, a wonderful spot to explore
at low tide. This is one of the only walking parks between Parksville and
Port Hardy. Other beaches in the Valtey are Kye Bay, Williams, Beach,
Miracle Beach and Saratoga Beach. There are guided tours out to
Middlenatch Island, (a bird sanctuary) from Saratoga Beach and the Comox
Harbour. Fishing charters are also available from here as well as Bates
Beach and King Coho.
The rivers in the Valley offer wonderful hiking trails and many of the
residents like to float down the rivers in the summer on innertubes. Explore
the Stotan and Myra Falls and the Medicine Bowls on the Puntledge River.
Watch the salmon spawn at the fish hatcheries, go fossil hunting with the
museum staff from Courtenay on the Puntledge and Trent Rivers. Go
spelunking at Home Lake or Gold River.
Finally, this area is the access point for two of the most beautiful of the Gulf
Islands. Denman and Hornby Islands are just a short ferry ride from
Vancouver Island and offer wonderful beaches and parks. The islands
have many gifted artisans who open their studios for tours.
The Comox Valley is truly a diverse region and offers the tourist many,
many, different opportunities for adventure. We hope you come and enjoy
our little area of Beautiful British Columbia!
This Travel Guide was kindley made available by Lois Enns of Forest Glen B&B in Courtenay.
Further information on destinations on Vancouver Island can be found here: