Staycations are becoming an increasingly popular travel option. Rather than travelling abroad many of us are choosing to indulge in a bit of R and R here at home in Vancouver or in nearby coastal townships.
With such wondrous scenery, tranquil coastal waters, wilderness parks it’s no wonder that Vancouver residents are keen to explore their gorgeous surroundings more.
So, this year instead of travelling overseas on a long-haul flight, why not plan a relaxing staycation in the beachside town of Parksville and unwind for a few days.
Located on the sheltered East Coast of Vancouver Island (30 minutes drive north of Nanaimo), Parksville possesses an abundance of natural beauty, small town charm and warm hospitality.
While these ingredients are sure to entice those looking for some peace and quite, we’ve also listed below seven reasons why “staycationing” in Parksville is a great idea and why you should try it!
1. Parksville Beach
Parksville is home to a beautiful protected sandy beach, where pleasure seekers of all styles and ages can find a quiet spot to kick back and relax.
In the summer months Parksville Beach is dotted with people swimming in the sun-warmed salt water, basking in the sun, picnicking on the sandy shore and walking barefoot along the remarkable wide tidal sand flats. At low tide Parksville Beach stretches out a kilometer into the Strait of Georgia.
While visitors who travel to Parksville in the shoulder seasons may not be able to enjoy a dip in the sea, they can still appreciate Parksville Beach’s beautiful surroundings and sunsets, as well as a stroll along the waterfront boardwalk – an activity that can be enjoyed no matter what time of year it is.
With a peaceful setting, striking views and terrific playground facilities for the kiddies it’s easy to see why Parksville is one of Canada’s top beach holiday destinations!
Photo Credit: Jess Fleming
2. The Beach Club Resort
Staying at The Beach Club Resort is worth the trip to Parksville alone. With direct access to Parksville Beach, stunning views of the ocean, modern self contained studios and suites, private balconies, indoor pool, hot tub, Spa and an on-site restaurant, The Beach Club Resort is the ideal place for families and couples to spend a few hassle free days.
Friendly and accommodating staff ensures a pleasant stay, as does the high level of comfort and amenities the hotel provides, such as the Pacific Prime Lounge and Restaurant.
Headed by locally born and raised Executive Chef Rick Davidson, the Pacific Prime Restaurant offers beachside dining with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
With so many great features you many never want to leave The Beach Club (it is certainly a spot you’ll wish to come back to) but if you do feel like venturing out, the hotel is ideally located and is in walking distance to the centre of town and a short drive (or bike ride) away from many nearby attractions.
Photo Credit: The Beach Club Resort
3. Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort
Those chasing a spot of restful downtime and relaxation in Parksville cannot go past a pampering day at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort’s Grotto Spa. Named as one of the top Spas in Canada (Spas of America Online, 2014), The Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara offers a wonderful and calming experience through a variety of signature treatments and services.
Guests can take a soothing dip in the Spa’s detoxifying mineral pool. Designed to emulate a natural stone grotto, the 2,500 square foot pool is infused with natural minerals and trace elements to detoxify the body and rejuvenate the spirit.
The Spa also offers an array of treatments: body wraps, massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials many with a focus on natural West Coast ingredients. There’s also a Relaxation Lounge where visitors can enjoy complimentary fresh fruit along with a selection of teas and coffee.
All in all the Tigh-Na-Mara’s Grotto Spa is a memorable and invigorating experience. While at the resort be sure to check out the log cabins – talk about a rustic getaway!
Photo Credit: Tigh-Na-Mara Resort
4. Island SodaWorks Brewtopia
Located amongst the forests and farmland of Errington, Island SodaWorks is a tiny soda distillery focusing on seasonal, wild-crafted and organic ingredients. Utilising the process of natural fermentation to create its trademark bubbles, Island SodaWorks’ glassed bottled pop is delightfully sweet with little to no sugar, and contains living probiotics.
Careful blendings of fresh and exotic flavours offer patrons a healthy alternative to a drink that’s been around for many years. The botanical flavours vary with each season, and currently include: wild Salal and Ginger, Nootak Rose, Bloomint (blueberries, shisandra berries and mint) and Skookum Tonic.
Island SodaWork’s healthy tonic “helps to boost immunity” says owner Mandolyn Jonasson and is a great alternative thirst-quencher for kids with diabetes and people following sugar free diets. She also says that it’s “an inspired mix for cocktails” too.
At the weekend Island SodaWorks brewery transforms into a gluten-free taco shack that centres on health, nutrition and whole foods, which are only sourced from local farms and local food producers. The menu is small, offering handmade, GMO-free corn tortillas topped with farmer’s market greens, local pastured chicken and fresh salsa. Also available is a nourishing bone broth, which is a lot tastier than it sounds.
Photo Credit: Jess Fleming
5. Morningstar Farm
You’ll find a fantastic range of handcrafted cheeses (made-on-site with milk produced from the farms own diary cows), which you are free to sample, a variety of delicious award-winning fruit wines, which you are encouraged to taste and a working farmstead with a range of barnyard animals.
Pick-up a self guided tour brochure and wander the farm at leisure. Be sure to pop into the store to browse the giftware section and stock up on the farms local, artisan cheeses and wines.
Light, fresh and well balanced you’ll want to grab a few bottles of MooBerry Wineries fruit wines to take home, especially as they’re only available on the Island. Blackberry, blueberry and sparking rhubarb are recommended.
Photo Credit: Morningstar Farm
6. The Old Country Market – Coombs
A trip to Parksville is not complete without a visit to The Old Country Market in Coombs. Despite being home to selection of international foods, imported gifts, hearty gluten free goods, delicious in-store baked goods and ice cream, the Coombs Market is perhaps best known for having goats freely roaming on its grassed roof. That’s right, goats!
Each spring a heard of goats make their home on the “green roof” (and have done so for more than thirty years) entertaining both locals and visitors from all over the world.
Aside from featuring this remarkable habitat built especially for their goats, the Coombs Market is chock-a-block with gourmet goodies, making it the perfect spot to pick up holiday grocery supplies: cheese, breads, sauces as well as a range of other food stuffs.
The bustling Coomb’s Market Place is a fantastic (and truly unique) place to stop, shop and eat!
Photo Credit: The Old Country Market
7. Rathtrevor Beach
If you’re after another reason to head to Parksville here it is, Rathtrevor Beach. One of the province’s most popular family destinations, Rathtrevor Beach is a sheltered bay with a gentle sloping sandy beach, pristine parkland and shallow waters.
There a walking trails, picnics benches, camping facilities and plenty of local wildlife to keep beach goers amused, not to mention the stunning views of the Sunshine Coast across the Strait of Georgia.
While the beach is a popular destination in the summer months it can also be enjoyed on a brisk winters day. Indeed, Rathtrevor Beach is equally as beautiful in the winter as it is in middle of August, perhaps even more so. With fewer visitors, those who do call on Rathtrevor Beach come December are guaranteed a truly serene and tanquil setting.
Photo Credit: Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association
BC Ferries has two terminals that offer Vancouver Island ferry service: Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen.
Sailing time from West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to Nanaimo (Departure Bay): 1 hour 35 minutes. Sailing time from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Nanaimo (Duke Point): 2 hours.
Driving time from Nanaimo to Parksville: 30 minutes. Driving time from Victoria: 2 hours.
For more information on Parksville visit http://www.
Feature Image: Jess Fleming