Vancouver
Island Part I

Explore Craft Beer from Farm to Sea in Cowichan and Nanaimo

Community craft breweries abound from Vancouver Island's Cowichan's warm climate and agricultural heritage to Nanaimo’s urban, maritime vibe.

After leaving Victoria and heading north up the Island Highway, the spectacular vistas of the Malahat Summit give way to the rural agricultural splendour of Cowichan, which takes its name from “Quw’utsun,” the name given to the valley by the Quw’utsun people. It is rooted in the Hul’q’umi’num word “shquw’utsun,” which means “to warm one’s back in the sun,” and is why the valley has been known as The Warm Land. And it is warm indeed: the region’s maritime Mediterranean climate boasts the warmest year-round temperature anywhere in Canada.

Sounds like a great place to drink craft beer, right? Well, Cowichan has that covered, too. Duncan is home to three breweries of its own: Red Arrow Brewing, Small Block Brewing, and the Craig Street Brewpub in Duncan.

Continuing north, the next stop is the beautiful Chemainus, famous for its transformation from a lumber industry mill town to a tourist destination.

The charming seaside town of Ladysmith is another ideal place to pull off the highway. Its attractive, well-maintained downtown was named the best street in Canada for 2017 by the Canadian Institute of Planners. And now, Ladysmith has its own brewery, too — Bayview Brewing.

Further up, the port city of Nanaimo offers five breweries, including Longwood Brew Pub & Restaurant and its second location with unique brews on tap, Longwood Brewery on Boxwood Road, as well as Wolf Brewing and White Sails Brewing. Enjoy the urban vibe at some of the city’s many restaurants and shops and then work off all the tasty treats you sampled by snorkelling with seals or hopping on a mountain bike, stand-up paddle board, or kayak.

Continue your island ale-venture with the Vancouver Island Ale Trail — Part II. There is so much to discover with Vancouver Island craft breweries!

Day 1

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Explore the best views and brews in Cowichan

Travel Info

Drive from Victoria

restaurant
Villa Eyrie Resort
600 Ebedora Ln, Malahat, BC

Perched 1880 feet above sea level atop the Malahat Summit, Villa Eyrie Resort is a mountain side retreat with a restaurant, spa, hiking trails and more.

activity
Malahat Skywalk
901 Trans-Canada Highway, Malahat, BC

Malahat SkyWalk is an accessible 600 m TreeWalk through a beautiful arbutus forest leading to a spectacular gentle spiral ramp that takes you up 32m to a sightseeing lookout offering views of Finlayson Arm, Saanich Peninsula, Mount Baker and the distant Coast Mountains.

activity
Kinsol Trestle
Glen Eagles Rd, Shawnigan Lake, BC

A wooden railway trestle located north of Shawnigan Lake with spectacular views of the Koksilah River. One of the tallest free-standing timber rail trestle structures in the world.

brewery
5255 Chaster Rd, Duncan, BC

Make a pit stop at this Duncan brewery located in a converted custom motorcycle shop.

brewery
203 - 5301 Chaster Road, Duncan, BC

Duncan’s newest brewery celebrates classic car culture alongside “precision made” craft beer.

brewery
25 Craig St, Duncan, BC

With a menu that has something for everyone, tuck in for a meal and a sampler flight at Duncan’s downtown brewpub.

liquor-store
#100 - 3292 Cowichan Lake Road , Duncan, BC

Locally owned and managed, focusing on quality craft producers.

accommodation
Find a place to stay in Cowichan

From well-appointed hotels and dozens of delightful B&B’s, to yurts, houseboats and float homes, there is something for everyone and every budget.

Explore More

Along with excellent breweries, Cowichan is also home to a number of craft distilleries and Canada’s first estate cidery.  Just north of Duncan is Canada’s only tea farm. How do you experience all of this during a single trip to Cowichan? Well, if you download the visitor guide (and pace yourself), you can visit the lion’s share of these operations in a self-guided tour or, if you prefer, via coach in a guided tour. In all, and depending on the time of your visit, you’ll be able to drop in and experience no less than 20 establishments, many of which offer tours and have their own bistros, gift shops and tasting rooms.

Don’t miss out on local events during your visit! Check the Cowichan events calendar to see what’s happening.

Day 2

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Experience Duncan and Chemainus

cafe
Duncan Garage Café and Bakery
#101 - 330 Duncan St, Duncan, BC

This community café serves homemade and organic vegetarian fare.

activity
Duncan Farmer's Market
200 Craig St, Duncan, BC

Every Saturday, year round, from 9am until 2pm you will find a sea of tents in the market square on Craig Street and down Ingram Street under which more than 100 vendors sell their wares. As a true farmers’ market, priority is given to farmers and growers, and an amazing array of local artisans and makers offering the unique and unusual are also hosted here.

activity
Pacific Northwest Raptors
1877 Herd Rd., Duncan, BC

The Raptors brings people closer to birds of prey. Their goal is to educate, illuminate and inspire a sense of personal responsibility for the future of both birds of prey and the planet. A variety of experiences and tours available, including flying demonstrations and hand-on experiences.

activity
Mountain Biking in Cowichan

You can hike and bike year round on Vancouver Island and Cowichan offers some of the best trails. There is Mt. Prevost; famous across Canada as a destination for past world champions with double-black pro lines; the forest of Mt. Tzouhalem, known locally as Mt. Zoo with 36 km (22 mi) of trails; and the boardwalks, bridges and techy rocky terrain of Maple Mountain that will challenge even the most skilled riders.

Travel

Drive to Chemainus, about 20 minutes

tap-house
3055 Oak St #201B, Chemainus, BC

Located in Chemainus Village Square, serving Pacific Northwest craft beers, wood-fired brick oven pizza, with an in-house smoker. Good food for good people!

accommodation
Find a place to stay in Cowichan

From well-appointed hotels and dozens of delightful B&B’s, to yurts, houseboats and float homes, there is something for everyone and every budget.

Explore More

Looking for an on-the-water experience? Ocean Ecoventures offers a variety of year-round whale and wildlife watching tours, with a focus on sustainability, conservation, education and research.

Day 3

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Continue your ale-venture in Nanaimo

brewery
204 Dogwood Drive, Ladysmith, BC

A locally owned and operated brewery based in Ladysmith, BC specializing in dessert sours! They also have a full kitchen with daily-made soups, many are gluten-free.

activity
WildPlay Element Parks
35 Nanaimo River Rd, Nanaimo, BC

Aerial adventures, bungee jumps and zip lines right in the midst of nature. For adults, teens, kids and groups.

pub
Crow & Gate English Pub
2313 Yellow Point Rd, Nanaimo, BC

Charming country-style pub in a quiet spacious setting serving pints and classic pub fare. The first neighbourhood pub in British Columbia.

brewery
940 Old Victoria Rd, Nanaimo, BC

Swing by the brewery in the south end of Nanaimo to visit Wolf’s “beer room.”

poi
Sugarloaf Mountain
3160 Marion Way, Nanaimo, BC

A natural viewpoint overlooking picturesque Departure Bay. A perfect spot to watch sunrises.

brewery
101A - 2046 Boxwood Rd, Nanaimo, BC

Longwood’s production brewery has its own tasting room with unique beers on tap.

brewery
5775 Turner Road, Nanaimo, BC

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.

liquor-store
6940 D Island Highway North, Nanaimo, BC

Locally owned and managed, focused on local craft producers

accommodation
Find a place to stay in Nanaimo

In Nanaimo you can settle in with a well-appointed suite at a high-rise hotel overlooking the sailboats in Nanaimo Harbour, or you can book a room in an affordable guest house or hostel in the midst of lively cafes, restaurants and nightlife.

Day 4

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Enjoy more sipping and exploring in Nanaimo

Travel Info

Pair your craft brew sampling with adventure in our outdoor playground! Hike, bike, swim and paddle – Nanaimo is the place to experience your next thrill or moment of reconnection. Rent a paddleboard or kayak from Brechin Boat Ramp and explore the harbour. Take a swim at any of our fine beaches including Blueback and Swy-A-Lana Lagoon, or head to the Nanaimo river for a cool dip. Or take a moment to find yourself in our woods – with biking and hiking trails across the city that take you as far or as close as you’d like to be.

cafe
The Buzz Cafe
4890 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo, BC

A place where people feel welcome, where community is built, where customer service is key, and where you can find the best darn coffee.

activity
Snorkelling with Seals with Sundown Diving
22 Esplanade, Nanaimo, BC

For Divers and non divers, there is no other experience like snorkeling with the seals. A 15 minute boat ride takes you out to the beautiful Snake Island where seals can be found resting on the shore or playing in the surrounding waters.

brewery
125 Comox Rd, Nanaimo, BC

A contemporary brewery based in a historic location.

activity
Neck Point Park
1055 Morningside Dr, Nanaimo, BC

36 acres of a waterfront where you’ll find rugged rock cliffs, with pebble bay beaches, and winding trails through Garry Oak groves.

restaurant
Dinghy Dock Pub
8 Pirates Lane, Nanaimo, BC

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.

liquor-store
2875 Departure Bay Road , Nanaimo, BC

Locally owned and managed, focusing on quality craft producers.

accommodation
Find a place to stay in Nanaimo

In Nanaimo you can settle in with a well-appointed suite at a high-rise hotel overlooking the sailboats in Nanaimo Harbour, or you can book a room in an affordable guest house or hostel in the midst of lively cafes, restaurants and nightlife.

Explore More

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 St. Jean’s Cannery and even a local distillery. Work up a thirst hiking to Ammonite Falls or up Mount Benson for beautiful views.

Also, 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.

Community craft breweries abound from Cowichan’s warm climate and agricultural heritage, leading through Duncan and Chemainus to Nanaimo’s urban, maritime vibe and Ladysmith.

restaurant
Villa Eyrie Resort (Day 1)
600 Ebedora Ln, Malahat, BC
activity
Malahat Skywalk (Day 1)
901 Trans-Canada Highway, Malahat, BC
activity
Kinsol Trestle (Day 1)
Glen Eagles Rd, Shawnigan Lake, BC
brewery
brewery
liquor-store
cafe
Duncan Garage Café and Bakery (Day 2)
#101 - 330 Duncan St, Duncan, BC
activity
Duncan Farmer's Market (Day 2)
200 Craig St, Duncan, BC
activity
Pacific Northwest Raptors (Day 2)
1877 Herd Rd., Duncan, BC
activity
Mountain Biking in Cowichan (Day 2)
brewery
204 Dogwood Drive, Ladysmith, BC
activity
WildPlay Element Parks (Day 3)
35 Nanaimo River Rd, Nanaimo, BC
pub
Crow & Gate English Pub (Day 3)
2313 Yellow Point Rd, Nanaimo, BC
poi
Sugarloaf Mountain (Day 3)
3160 Marion Way, Nanaimo, BC
liquor-store
cafe
The Buzz Cafe (Day 4)
4890 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo, BC
activity
Snorkelling with Seals with Sundown Diving (Day 4)
22 Esplanade, Nanaimo, BC
activity
Neck Point Park (Day 4)
1055 Morningside Dr, Nanaimo, BC
restaurant
Dinghy Dock Pub (Day 4)
8 Pirates Lane, Nanaimo, BC
liquor-store
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Tourism Cowichan

The Cowichan Region takes its name from “Quw’utsun,” the name given to the valley by the Quw’utsun people. It is rooted in the Hul’q’umi’num word “shquw’utsun,” which means “to warm one’s back in the sun,” and is why the valley has been known as The Warm Land. The First People knew what they were talking about: Cowichan is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone and is home to the warmest year-round temperature anywhere in the country.

It’s no wonder this place is so well suited to growing things, including an incredible array of food and an unmatched quality of life. For decades, the Cowichan has been producing amazing artisanal food and drink from the region’s burgeoning farms, wineries, cideries, distilleries, fishers and artists.

Tourism Nanaimo

Located in the heart of Vancouver Island, just 1.5 hours north of Victoria and 30-minutes south of Parksville, Nanaimo is the harbour city and home to 4 craft breweries, a vibrant cultural scene and 360° degrees of adventure. Tap your toes to live music in Diana Krall plaza downtown, or come to one of many outdoor festivals and markets–including internationally recognized Bathtub Days–and Longwoodstock, an annual celebration of music and beer.

There are many options from sea to sky that attract visitors to Nanaimo. Paddle the calm waters of more than 18 lakes in and around Nanaimo, and set your nautical compass for Newcastle Island (Saysutshun), traditional land of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, where you can sample traditional fare of the Coast Salish people.

Find More Things to Explore

in Nanaimo

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Learn More About Nanaimo

and book your stay

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Find Places to Stay

in the Cowichan Valley

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