Experience craft beer culture interwoven with natural beauty, agricultural splendour and some of BC’s most spectacular beaches.
Nanaimo, the largest city north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, is the ideal place to begin your exploration of the Central Island Beer Belt. A diverse array of activities is easily accessible within a short drive, including restaurants, farm markets, provincial parks, beach resorts, First Nations heritage sites, and, of course, craft breweries.
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 through Cathedral Grove to Port Alberni, home of Twin City Brewing, the newest addition to this Vancouver Island Ale Trail, where deliciously inventive beers are paired with creative pizzas baked fresh on-site.
An hour north 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. 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, as is Miracle Beach Provincial Park. 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.
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.
This stylish craft brewery is the perfect accompaniment to Parksville’s beaches and resorts.
A comfortable and welcoming destination for breakfast and lunch. The menu features local, sustainable, and seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients.
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.
This small Qualicum Beach brewery is a labour of love for its charismatic founder.
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.
Situated on Rathtrevor Beach on the outskirts of the Oceanside town of Parksville. Enjoy a traditional pub-fare menu paired with a fresh pint.
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.
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.
Head West into the forest for the morning.
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.
This hidden gem will win you over with its inventive beers and delicious pizza.
Drive "up island", and consider the scenic route along the ocean.
Visit this destination brewery in the beautiful and historic small town of Cumberland.
Downtown Courtenay is home to this popular craft brewery connected to a gourmet pizza restaurant.
This nano-brewery’s welcoming tasting room serves up a selection of styles with a focus on organic beers.
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! 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.