From the Cowichan Valley’s warm climate and agricultural heritage to Nanaimo’s urban, maritime vibe, there is something for everyone here.
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 the Cowichan Valley, which takes its name from “Quw’utsun’,” an aboriginal word that means “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, the 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 beautiful Chemainus, famous for its transformation from a lumber industry mill town to a tourist destination. Check out the town’s murals downtown and then swing by Riot Brewing for a taste in the tap room or on the sun-drenched patio.
The port city of Nanaimo is home to four breweries, including the handsome Longwood Brewpub and its separate production facility, Longwood Brewing, 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 paddleboard, or kayak.
Continue your island ale-venture with the Vancouver Island Ale Trail — Part II. There is so much to discover on Vancouver Island!
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.
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.
Make a pit stop at this Duncan brewery located in a converted custom motorcycle shop.
Duncan’s newest brewery celebrates classic car culture alongside “precision made” craft beer.
With a menu that has something for everyone, tuck in for a meal and a sampler flight at Duncan’s downtown brewpub.
Celebrate the riot that is life at this beautiful, custom-built Chemainus brewery.
Located in Chemainus Village Square, offering a unique selection of Northwest Pacific craft beers, fresh Italian style wood fired pizzas and slow cooked smoked meat.
Along with excellent breweries the Cowichan Valley 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 the Cowichan Valley? Well, if you download this map (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 Valley events calendar to see what’s happening.
Aerial adventures, bungee jumps and zip lines right in the midst of nature. For adults, teens, kids and groups.
Charming country-style pub in a quiet spacious setting serving pints and classic pub fare. The first neighbourhood pub in British Columbia.
Swing by the brewery in the south end of Nanaimo to visit Wolf’s “beer room.”
A natural viewpoint overlooking picturesque Departure Bay. A perfect spot to watch sunrises.
Longwood’s production brewery has its own tasting room with unique beers on tap.
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.
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.
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.
A place where people feel welcome, where community is built, where customer service is key, and where you can find the best darn coffee.
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.
Nanaimo’s newest brewery is the city’s first with a downtown location.
36 acres of a waterfront where you’ll find rugged rock cliffs, with pebble bay beaches, and winding trails through Garry Oak groves.
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.
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.
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.
The Cowichan Region takes its name from “Quw’utsun’,” an aboriginal word that means “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.
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.