The first time you visit the Central Island region you’ll wonder why you’ve never been there before—and you’ll start planning your next visit. Outdoor activities abound, including hiking, biking, camping, sailing, SUPing and skiing. Nanaimo, the largest city on the Island north of Victoria, is far more than just a hub for travellers taking a ferry to the mainland. And the Comox Valley an hour north is bursting with food, culture and history. Craft beer is the thread that draws it all together.
Bustling Nanaimo is the perfect place to begin your exploration of the Central Island Ale Trail. The Port City is home to four separate breweries, including the handsome Longwood Brewpub and its separate production facility, the Longwood Brewery, as well as Wolf Brewing and White Sails Brewing, which opened downtown late in 2015. Spend a day or two visiting breweries and enjoying Nanaimo’s many other opportunities, from the Nanaimo Bar Trail to outdoor activities such as trail bike riding, hiking or fishing.
The sheltered stretch of coastline above Nanaimo is home to one of the province’s most spectacular beaches. When the tide is out at Rathtrevor Beach, the ocean recedes almost a kilometre (0.6 mi), revealing clean sand and fascinating tidal pools that teem with marine life. As the tide rolls in over sun-warmed sand, the shallow water is perfect for swimming and splashing.
An hour north of Nanaimo is the Comox Valley, an agricultural paradise with three breweries that cater to their local crowds: Forbidden Brewing and Gladstone Brewing in Courtenay, and Cumberland Brewing in Cumberland. History is imbued in the very ground here thanks to the rich coal-mining heritage centered in Cumberland. Farm markets, restaurants, distilleries and wineries will keep your stomach content while you explore.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a short drive from Courtenay, as is Miracle Beach Provincial Park, with a beach just as spectacular as Rathtrevor’s. Nearby is Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest park dating back to 1911 and one of its largest. Catch a ferry to beautiful, secluded Denman Island and Hornby Island. Or extend your beer travels by taking the Comox ferry to Powell River where you can join the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.
Aerial adventures, bungee jumps and zip lines right in the midst of nature. For adults, teens, kids and groups.
Swing by the brewery in the south end of Nanaimo to visit Wolf’s “beer room.”
Nanaimo’s newest brewery is the city’s first with a downtown location.
A natural viewpoint overlooking picturesque Departure Bay. A perfect spot to watch sunrises.
The Longwood Brewpub has anchored the Longwood Station plaza in the north end of Nanaimo since 1999. It has a family-friendly restaurant upstairs and a pub downstairs, with four English-style draught engines serving cellar-conditioned beer to go along with excellent food from the kitchen.
Longwood’s production brewery has its own tasting room with unique beers on tap.
While in Nanaimo you simply can’t leave until you sample a Nanaimo Bar (or two). Pick up or download a copy of the Nanaimo Bar Trail and sample a few variations of Nanaimo’s beloved dessert.
Take a short ferry to Canada’s only registered floating pub, the Dinghy Dock. Watch the float planes land and watch the sun set behind Mt. Benson at this nautical themed, family friendly pub/restaurant.
All rooms feature a full array of amenities for your comfort and entertainment, plus a private balcony overlooking Long Lake. Nestle alongside nature while enjoying all that the city has to offer.
If you would like to pair your craft sampling with some of the local food, book a Taste of Nanaimo Tour with Vancouver Island Expeditions. Some of the tours include a visit to the Cedar Valley Hop Yards, St. Jean’s Cannery and even a local distillery. Work up a thirst hiking to Ammonite Falls or up Mount Benson for beautiful views.
Discover the Emerald Sea and what lies below with some of the world's best cold water activities. Snorkeling, marine tours, dive charters, rebreathers, & SCUBA training.
Visit this destination brewery in the beautiful and historic small town of Cumberland.
This nano-brewery’s welcoming tasting room serves up a selection of styles with a focus on organic beers.
Downtown Courtenay is home to this popular craft brewery connected to a gourmet pizza restaurant.
home of perfectly overstuffed breakfasts, bustling lunches and inspired dinners. It’s where friends and family share laughs, colleagues share ideas, and the entire community gathers to share our passion for great food.
The Comox Valley has an extensive selection of accommodation options; from boutique hotels with spas to family-friendly brand name hotels complete with waterslides and complimentary breakfast! To book your next Comox Valley getaway head to the link above.
This region is home to marine and outdoor adventures, the perfect accompaniment to your next brewery tour! The Island’s only ski and snowboard resort destination, extensive mountain biking plus pristine beach and ocean adventures await. Don’t miss out on festivals like the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival or pick fresh, local produce up at the popular Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
Stretched along the central east coast of Vancouver Island, appearing like arms reached out to welcome visitors, is the city of Nanaimo & Region, the heartbeat of the Island. Here, we set the pace of “Island time” with ferry horns, sea lion barks and the quiet roar of floatplanes passing above. Accessible by air via the Nanaimo airport, by seaplane or helicopter service directly into downtown and with your choice of two ferries to sail with, Nanaimo was long ago nicknamed the hub of the island for good reason.
The Comox Valley is a place that inspires creativity, tempts the taste buds, soothes the soul and fires the imagination of adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Situated halfway up the east coast of Vancouver Island, this community faces the sea and embraces the mountains, has the charm of a small town but with a touch of urban sophistication and taste. Experience it all, from full on adventures to blissful relaxation. Blast down an alpine ski run with an ocean view, scuba dive in crystal clear water, mountain bike or hike along a glacier-fed river, dine on true farm to table fare, or get pampered at one of the popular spas. The choices are endless and it all starts now in the Comox Valley!