Gorgeous. Exquisite. Radiant. Those adjectives all describe Parksville Qualicum Beach, a gem of a place on Vancouver Island ideal for an escape into nature.
With its breathtaking wildlife, rich diversity and ocean vistas, this delightful destination is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in British Columbia. And here are six reasons why.
Old growth forests
Defined as wilderness areas that have survived for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, old-growth forests are increasingly popular as they become more and more rare. Unlike second-growth forests, which emerge from re-planting activities that follow forest fires or logging, old-growth forests have giant trees and a majesty to which other woodlands can’t compare. A number of protected tracts of old-growth exists on the Island, including in Cathedral Grove at MacMillan Provincial Park and Qualicum Beach Heritage Forest.
The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region
Contained within the traditional territories of seven First Nations, the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region is a diverse ecosystem unique to Vancouver Island. In the Amazing Places project, which is dedicated to the biosphere region, you will see a spectacular array of scenic gems, including gardens, secret lookouts, supremely high summits, stunning vistas of the Salish Sea, parks and much more.
No trip to the Island is complete without time spent with its adorable sea lions. In Parksville Qualicum Beach, it’s easy to find them in their natural habitat. Wildlife-viewing tours leave frequently from the French Creek Marina and Deep Bay Harbour, taking visitors close to the sea lions who congregate on the off-shore rocks. For another heartwarming experience, wander over to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, where you will find rescued black bears, eagles, owls, falcons, ravens and other wildlife.
Unusual cave systems
Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park won Destination BC’s 2015 Remarkable Experiences Award — and for good reason. The cave system, which features fragile crystal formations, has fossils embedded in its walls. An underground waterfall plummets seven dramatic storeys before crashing to the cave floor. Open to the public throughout the year, the cave also offers visitors guided and self-guided tours you will no doubt want to participate in.
Parksville Qualicum Beach is rich with above-ground waterfalls, too. Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park offers six kilometres of hiking trails, with the shortest route running about one kilometre and leading to a beautiful lookout of the cascading waters. It’s an easy hike that alone is worth a visit to the area. Similarly attractive is the Englishman River Falls, the highlight of one of the prettiest parks on Vancouver Island.
Hamilton Marsh, five minutes by car from Qualicum Beach, presents a completely different nature experience than what most visitors to British Columbia expect. The wetland wonder is three kilometres long and half a kilometre wide, boasting more than 120 bird species and other wildlife. Photographers, bird watchers and nature lovers will be fascinated by this sublime attraction.
With ecosystems such as old-growth forests, wetlands, coastal beaches and underground cave systems, Vancouver Island is home to some of the most impressive beauty in British Columbia.
Parksville Qualicum Beach, a small town with a laid-back lifestyle on the Island’s eastern shore, is close to all of the locations listed above and offers a ton of other outdoor experiences, too. It is an ideal spot to base your stay on the Island.