Vancouver
Island Part II

Parksville Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, the Comox Valley and Campbell River

Experience craft beer culture interwoven with natural beauty, agricultural splendour and some of BC’s most spectacular beaches.

Vancouver Island is a big place, home to diverse landscapes, cultural groups and communities. This ale trail encompasses the middle of the Island, including Parksville-Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, the Comox Valley, and Campbell River. These cities and towns share many common values independence, creativity, a love of nature but each has its own flavour and style, making any visit to this region a worthwhile and satisfying endeavour.

The sheltered stretch of coastline north of Nanaimo is home to some of the province’s most spectacular beaches. When the tide is out at Parksville’s Rathtrevor Beach, the ocean recedes almost a kilometre (half a mile), 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. When it’s time to dry off, visit Parksville’s own craft brewery, Mount Arrowsmith Brewing, or drop by Love Shack Libations in friendly, laidback Qualicum Beach.

A short side trip west takes you past the quaint town of Coombs, where goats munch on grass on the roof of the Old Country Market, and through Cathedral Grove, a spectacular stand of old growth trees that will awe and inspire any visitor. Your destination is Port Alberni, home of Twin City Brewing, where deliciously inventive beers are paired with creative pizzas baked fresh on-site, and Dog Mountain Brewing, the newest addition to the Vancouver Island Ale Trail that boasts a rooftop patio that might just become your favourite place to drink a beer on Vancouver Island.

An hour north is the Comox Valley, an agricultural paradise with several breweries that cater to their local crowds, including Ace Brewing and Gladstone Brewing in Courtenay, Land & Sea Brewing and New Tradition Brewing in Comox, and Cumberland Brewing in the historic coal mining town of the same name. Throughout the region, visitors will find farmers’ markets, restaurants that celebrate farm (or tide) to table, plus numerous distilleries and wineries that will keep your stomach happy while you explore.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a short drive from Courtenay-Comox, as is Miracle Beach Provincial Park. Nearby is Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest park dating back to 1911 and one of its largest.

Last but not least is Beach Fire Brewing in Campbell River, the final stop on the Vancouver Island Ale Trail.

Don’t forget to check out Part I of the Vancouver Island Ale Trail, as well as the Victoria Ale Trail. There is so much to discover on Vancouver Island. Or extend your beer travels across the water by taking the Comox ferry over to Powell River where you can join the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.

 

Know Before You Go 

Before visiting, we recommend that you check directly with the businesses you are hoping to visit to get the latest on-the-ground information. Some businesses are seasonal, and some may have experienced closures due to COVID-19.

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Day 1

poi
Rathtrevor Beach
1240 Rath Rd, Parksville, BC

One of the province's most popular family destinations. A 347-hectare park featureing a five-kilometre long stretch of sandy beach, a forest and parkland. At low tide, the ocean recedes almost a kilometer back from Rathtrevor's shoreline.

brewery
425 Stanford Avenue East, Parksville, BC

This stylish craft brewery is the perfect accompaniment to Parksville’s beaches and resorts.

restaurant
Q Burger
109 W 2nd Ave, Qualicum Beach, BC

Takeout...Eat...Repeat! Big bangin’ burgers, delightful dips, satisfying salads & pizzas with pizazz.

activity
Horne Lake Caves
3905 Horne Lake Caves Rd, Qualicum Beach, BC

Challenge your abilities and see the world through a caver’s eye. Explore the beauty and mysteries of Vancouver Island’s underworld in a fascinating subterranean adventure. A wide variety of tour options offer many levels of experience for families and adventurous park visitors.

brewery
4134 Island Hwy W #1, Qualicum Beach, BC

This small Qualicum Beach brewery is a labour of love for its charismatic founder.

liquor-store
1401 Alberni Highway, Parksville, BC

With 800+ beers to choose from, Mid Island Liquor's Parksville location has the beer to pair with your meal, big event, friend or just because you want a beer.

pub
Black Goose Inn
1051 Resort Dr, Parksville, BC

Situated on Rathtrevor Beach on the outskirts of the Oceanside town of Parksville. Enjoy a traditional pub-fare menu paired with a fresh pint.

accomodation
Oceanside Village Resort
1080 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC

Oceanside Village Resort's vacation cottages are custom-designed and quality-built, providing luxurious accommodation in Parksville for you, your family and your guests. As you stroll down shaded pathways towards our pool or fabulous Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, you'll understand why our cottages have more charm and character than any other Parksville accommodation.

Explore More

Looking for more outdoor adventures? Plan a stop at the pristine Englishman River Falls, just a short drive from Parksville and Qualicum Beach. The Provincial Park features two stunning waterfalls cascading along the descending riverbed into a deep canyon. During the summer a crystal clear pool at the base of the lower falls turns into one of the best swimming holes in the area, and the whole park becomes a prime viewing area for the return of spawning salmon in the fall.

Day 2

Travel Info

Head into the forest towards the Wild West Coast.

Drive to Port Alberni

poi
Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park

** Note: COVID-19 Alert - This park is currently closed.** The biggest trees in the Grove are about 800 years old and measure 75 m (250 ft) in height and 9 m (29 ft) in circumference. It's a rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem.

restaurant
Pescadores
5093 Johnston Rd, Port Alberni, BC

Farm fresh veggies, local meats and Pacific Rim seafood are all on the menu (when the season allows for it) at this delicious breakfast and lunch spot that highlights seasonal ingredients locally sourced from the Alberni Valley.

activity
West Coast Wild
51861 Highway # 4, , BC

Looking for adventure? Westcoat Wild's zip-line eco tours feature tremendous views and knowledgeable guides - your visit is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

brewery
4503 Margaret St, Port Alberni, BC

This hidden gem will win you over with its inventive beers and delicious pizza.

activity
McLean Mill National Historic Site & Park
5633 Smith Road, Port Alberni, BC

Bring a picnic to this designated national historic site on a former sawmill and logging operation.

brewery
3141 3rd Ave, Port Alberni, BC

Port Alberni's second brewery has a rooftop patio with stellar views.

restaurant
Bare Bones Fish & Chips
4824 Johnston Road, Port Alberni , BC

Always fresh and delicious, try your fish grilled or in the famous beer batter of this upscale fish and chip restaurant.

accomodation
Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel
4277 Stamp Ave, Port Alberni, BC

Exceptional service and a prime location, spend your night in Port Alberni at The Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel

Explore More

No exploration of Vancouver Island is truly complete without a visit to the west coast: the beaches, the surfing, the spectacular landscapes, and don’t forget the beer! Tofino is a popular destination year-round, and so is Ucluelet, a laid-back fishing village that is surrounded by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, with the Broken Group Islands to the south and Long Beach to the north.

Each community is home to its own brewery: Tofino Brewing, a local favourite since 2011; and Ucluelet Brewing, a newer operation based in an old, converted church.

Day 3

Travel Info

Drive “up island”, and consider the scenic route along the ocean.

Drive to Cumberland

brewery
2732 Dunsmuir Ave, Cumberland, BC

Visit this destination brewery in the beautiful and historic small town of Cumberland.

brewery
150 Mansfield Drive, Courtenay, BC

The newest microbrewery to open in Courtenay celebrates the history of the Canadian Air Force through its vintage aviation theme.

brewery
244 4th St, Courtenay, BC

Downtown Courtenay is home to this popular craft brewery with an in-house burger bar.

restaurant
Atlas Cafe
250 6th St, Courtenay, BC

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.

liquor-store
200 - 444 Lerwick Road, Courtenay, BC

A full-service group of Vancouver Island-based liquor stores, dedicated to delivering outstanding service, a surprising product range with a focus on local, organic and hard-to-find products from the Pacific Northwest and around the world, all at everyday best value pricing.

accomodation
Find a place to stay nearby!

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.

Explore More

This region is home to marine and outdoor adventures, the perfect accompaniment to your next brewery tour! Discover the Emerald Sea and what lies below with some of the world’s best cold water activities. Check out Pacific Pro Drive for snorkeling, marine tours, dive charters, rebreathers, & SCUBA training.

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.

Day 4

cafe
The Hen and Hog Cafe
1190 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay BC , BC

Start your day with strong coffee and friendly service at this small but mighty breakfast spot.

activity
Goose Spit Park
10 Hawkins Road, , Comox, BC

This picturesque sand spit is fed by the Willemar Bluffs that, with Gartley Point, create the Comox Harbour. Take in the views from south, east and west—all year round.

brewery
2040 Guthrie Rd, Comox, BC

A place to gather to enjoy craft beer and community—stop here to share a lunch platter. There's something for everyone, including delicious gluten friendly options.

brewery
215 Port Augusta St Unit 11, Comox, BC

A recent addition to Vancouver Island's craft beer landscape, New Tradition Brewing serves fresh beers alongside Aussie meat pies, grilled sandwiches, and more in a family-friendly environment.

pub
Church St. Taphouse
215 Church St , Comox, BC

One of The Comox Valley's newest taphouses proudly serving craft beer and local food.

accomodation
Find a place to stay nearby!

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.

Day 5

Travel Info

Early risers looking for a morning ride can look to Beaver Lodge Lands up in Campbell River. If mountain biking sounds appealing, find trail maps and more at TrailForks.com.

Drive to Campbell River 

cafe
The Island Grind Coffee & Tea
801 Hilchey Rd, Campbell River , BC

Founded by Campbell River born and raised locals—these well traveled entrepreneurs created a community hub focused on quality coffee, tea and food.

activity
Elk Falls Provincial Park & Suspension Bridge

Head out to Elk Falls to view the Provincial Park's suspension bridge and viewing platforms and trails. The park features a waterfall, hiking, cycling, swimming, fishing, picnic areas & a playground.

brewery
594 11 Ave, Campbell River, BC

Fresh, free-range beer—fill up a growler or two after satiating your hunger with an array of sharable small plates and fabulous desserts.

restaurant
Dockside Fish & Chips
1003 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC

Easy going eatery on the water, serving seafood plates alongside fish & chips, sides & takeout.

activity
Discovery Fishing Pier

A favourite spot with local anglers, the pier provides easy access to recreational fishing. No rod? No problem! The seasonal concession stand (Open May-Oct.) provides rod and tackle rentals.

pub
Session Taproom • Kitchen + Spin
926 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC

With an emphasis on supporting local, this accessible Taproom & Kitchen is a counter-service establishment with a variety of both meat and plant-based food options and twelve rotating craft beer and cider lines.

liquor-store
1590 Sayward Road, Sayward, BC

A delightful liquor store on the way north that carries the best selections north of Campbell River. This is your last chance to fill up the cooler before you begin your north island adventures.

accomodation
Find a place to stay in Campbell River!

The central north island has a treasure trove of resorts, cottages, hotels, B&Bs and vacation rental homes that offer stunning views and easy access to Campbell River's craggy shorelines and sandy beaches.

Explore More

Other shops and stops to explore include Tyee Marine, where you can pick up a fishing license and lures before an afternoon fishing adventure and Tyee Spit is a great spot for a beach fire, picnic or birdwatching.

For a moderate to difficult hiking experience, The Ripple Rock Trail & lookout is a 4-hour return hike to the historic sight of the blasting of Ripple Rock.

poi
Rathtrevor Beach
1240 Rath Rd, Parksville, BC
brewery
425 Stanford Avenue East, Parksville, BC
restaurant
Q Burger
109 W 2nd Ave, Qualicum Beach, BC
activity
Horne Lake Caves
3905 Horne Lake Caves Rd, Qualicum Beach, BC
brewery
4134 Island Hwy W #1, Qualicum Beach, BC
liquor-store
1401 Alberni Highway, Parksville, BC
pub
Black Goose Inn
1051 Resort Dr, Parksville, BC
accomodation
Oceanside Village Resort
1080 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
poi
Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park
restaurant
Pescadores
5093 Johnston Rd, Port Alberni, BC
activity
West Coast Wild
51861 Highway # 4, , BC
brewery
4503 Margaret St, Port Alberni, BC
activity
McLean Mill National Historic Site & Park
5633 Smith Road, Port Alberni, BC
brewery
restaurant
Bare Bones Fish & Chips
4824 Johnston Road, Port Alberni , BC
accomodation
Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel
4277 Stamp Ave, Port Alberni, BC
brewery
brewery
150 Mansfield Drive, Courtenay, BC
brewery
restaurant
Atlas Cafe
250 6th St, Courtenay, BC
liquor-store
accomodation
Find a place to stay nearby!
cafe
The Hen and Hog Cafe
1190 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay BC , BC
activity
Goose Spit Park
10 Hawkins Road, , Comox, BC
brewery
brewery
215 Port Augusta St Unit 11, Comox, BC
pub
Church St. Taphouse
215 Church St , Comox, BC
cafe
The Island Grind Coffee & Tea
801 Hilchey Rd, Campbell River , BC
activity
Elk Falls Provincial Park & Suspension Bridge
brewery
restaurant
Dockside Fish & Chips
1003 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC
activity
Discovery Fishing Pier
pub
Session Taproom • Kitchen + Spin
926 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC
liquor-store
Print

Tasting Notes: Vancouver Island

Join Sonia Motisca on a tasting tour of Vancouver Island’s beer belt.

Journeying north up the east coast of Vancouver Island, this tour starts in the rural Cowichan Valley making stops in Duncan, Chemainus, and the historic harbour town of Nanaimo, before arriving at its final destination – scenic Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Follow along this island journey of quaint communities, beaches, and of course – plenty of beers.

Produced In Collaboration With

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.

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism

Parksville Qualicum Beach is where memories come to life; the smells and sounds, tastes and textures that bring you back to a time when the world was a little smaller, people were a little nicer, and time wasn’t a big worry.

While Parksville Qualicum Beach may be best known for amazing sandy beaches that stretch for nearly a mile at low tide, there’s much more to the region than saltwater and sandy shores.

Start your next story with ‘there were goats on the roof’ or ‘we slept in a suspended treehouse,’, and see what kind of a reaction you get from your friends. Discover crystal formations and ancient fossils while sliding through Horne Lake Caves. Explore the ancient forests of Cathedral Grove, raging Englishman River and Little Qualicum Falls – enjoying the scenery and serenity, connecting with the Earth in a way that isn’t possible in the busy city. Visit rescued black bears, eagles, falcons, and other forest creatures, or paddle a kayak to discover sea lions and seals, watching from a respectful distance as they observe you, too.

Alberni Valley Tourism

The Alberni Valley is called the “real west coast” because you’ll find a variety of outdoor activities here, including hiking, fishing and boating, windsurfing, zip lining, mountain climbing, mountain biking and more.

The Alberni Inlet is a long narrow arm of the ocean that travels inland from Barkley Sound, excellent for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Just north of Port Alberni is Stamp River, with incredible Chinook and steelhead fishing. In late summer, over half a million salmon spawn near the Stamp River Hatchery, making it a favourite for local black bears (and bear watching!). Sproat Lake is great for rainbow trout fishing, and features the famous Mars Water Bombers. Or, if you’re keen on kayaking or diving, try Barkley Sound, home to the Broken Group of Islands, a series of islands and reefs.

Discover Comox Valley

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!

Destination Campbell River

Campbell River is at the heart of the “North Central Island” and surrounded by 5 Provincial Parks, (Strathcona, Miracle Beach, Mohun Lake, Loveland Bay and Elk Falls), but exploring a little farther afield, our region offers visitors an opportunity to explore some of Vancouver Island’s best-kept secrets. Paddle the Sayward Canoe Route, discover Gold River’s Upana Caves, fish the west coast near Tahsis and Zeballos, or island hop in the Discovery Islands for a truly memorable experience.

Dining options are plentiful in Campbell River, whether it’s fish and chips served dockside in a marina or surf and turf platters in a comfortable pub or restaurant, the fine cuisine offers visitors a chance to hang out with locals and savour the fine food of the region.

No matter how you chose to enjoy the outdoors and dining options, you’ll leave our city by the sea feeling fulfilled and connected to your natural surroundings.

Book a Room

in Parksville Qualicum Beach

visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com

Learn More About Port Alberni

and book your stay

albernivalleytourism.com

Find Places To Stay

in the Comox Valley

discovercomoxvalley.com

Synopsis

This is the cradle of the "craft beer revolution," home to Canada’s first brewpub and some of British Columbia’s most popular breweries.

Travel Method

Cycling, Driving, Walking

Towns & Communities

North Saanich, Victoria

Duration

3 Days

Breweries

Howl Brewing, Category 12 Brewing, Twa Dogs Brewery at Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery, Canoe Brewpub, Phillips Brewing & Malting, Driftwood Brewery, Vancouver Island Brewing, Lighthouse Brewing, île Sauvage Brewing, Whistle Buoy Brewing, Spinnakers Brewpub

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