Learn More about the Local Attractions in Comox Valley
Some say there are “Seven Wonders of the World.” But, ask anyone who lives on Vancouver Island, or any visitors for that matter, and they’ll tell you that Vancouver Island should be among them.
One of the Island’s “gems” that should not to be missed is the Comox Valley—centrally located on the island’s east coast with a population of approximately 65,000. The name “Comox” dates back to the First Nations term “k’omoks” which means “plentiful, rich or wealthy.”
One B&B owner said, “We live a vacation here on the island. What other people travel from around the world to experience we enjoy every day. Yet, very few of us take that privilege for granted. Islanders love being here and know how amazing what we have here really is.”
There is no shortage of things to do in Comox Valley, especially if you’re a “cultural explorer” who loves opportunities to embrace, discover and immerse yourselves in the culture, people and settings of the places you visit.
In Fanny Bay, on the south end of the Valley, visitors should stop by the Fanny Bay dock to check out the sea lions. More than 50 sea lions often gather there, so it’s even fun to sit in your car on the end of the dock and watch their antics.
The waters of Baynes Sound are renowned for aquaculture, with “Fanny Bay Oysters” being served in more than 150 countries around the world. The Deep Bay Marine Field Station just south of Fanny Bay offers public tours, and is a great place for family fun and hands-on exhibits of marine life in Baynes Sound and Salish Sea.
You will also enjoy a stop at the wooden post office, a heritage building that is next to the old jail in Union Bay—a sleepy little town that was once home to a booming shipping operation when the coal mines in Cumberland were shipping coal. There is a great “secret” walking trail along the water, just north of the boat ramp with parking near the construction trailer.
Just a bit farther north, Courtenay, Cumberland and Comox welcome visitors to explore and to play. Whether you’re into fishing or bird-watching…hiking or fossil hunting (check out the specimens in the Courtenay museum) … tubing down the Puntledge River or paddling a peaceful kayak trek to an uninhabited island, the Comox Valley is an outdoor person’s paradise.
Mount Washington, a spectacular, but intimate ski mountain that often holds the record for North American snowfall, is on the north end of the Comox Valley—easily accessed from Highway 19 or through Courtenay.
Just the short ride from Courtenay or Campbell River to the top of the ski hill is pretty, with views to the east that include the Strait of Georgia, a maze of small islands, and the coastal mountains on the mainland in the distance.
Enjoy Recreational Activities
In Courtenay, check out the airpark, for an up-close view of small planes taking off and landing while you walk along the estuary trail and enjoy the waterfowl. For those who like to be in the water, tubing down a river or swimming are on the summer lists; others enjoy donning wet or dry suits for scuba diving and kite surfing year round.
If land is more your speed, the Valley offers several golf courses, road and mountain biking, a plethora of back roads for exploring, and a unique shopping day in the boutiques on 5th Street.
Just across the bridge from Courtenay, take the “Dike Road” into Comox, a cozy community that is home to First Nation’s I-HOS Gallery, the Air Force Base– CFB Comox and the Air Force Museum— and the Comox Marina. Be sure to stop there to take a picture-perfect photo of sailboat masts against the backdrop of the Comox Glacier and the Beaufort Mountain range, and walk out to the commercial dock to see those big fishing boats.
In addition to the outdoor experiences, the Comox Valley is rich in agriculture, which makes it easy for the area to be an “eat local” mecca for a huge variety of culinary experiences.
There is an annual Shellfish Festival in the spring that should not be missed. Visits to the local wineries can be part of an afternoon drive in the pastoral areas of the Valley any time of year, or plan a stop at the year-round Farmer’s Market –a Saturday showcase for farmers and local producers to share the bounty of the Valley’s terrific growing conditions.
Encounter Year-Round Entertainment
For those who like arts, music and entertainment, the Comox Valley has exhibits, festivals and pubs with live entertainment year round. There are several art galleries, many artisans working from home studios (but marked by “Artisan” road signs).
The Sid Williams Theater is a hub for drama and musical performances, but smaller venues and even churches host various shows. There’s even a weekly Bluegrass Brunch in Cumberland, which hosts a lantern festival every February and an annual motorcycle rally in August, among many other events in this sleepy little mountain town where dogs still sleep in the roads.
The Vancouver Island Music Festival, held at the Valley’s exhibition grounds against a backdrop of evergreens is a mid-July highlight for locals and visitors alike–bringing performers from around the world for a three-day event that attracts nearly 10,000 people each year.
In August, the Filberg Festival and Nautical Days (Comox Marina) are annual artisan-music festivals that should not be missed; plus there is the Comox Valley Exhibition Fall Fair which promises fun for young and old. Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens is a 22-acre private property that is open to the public year-round , but also home to artisan festivals in May and September.
Bring your beach shoes (our beaches are rocky), your hiking shoes, binoculars, and a camera for sure. Come with a hearty appetite for adventure and great food.
You won’t be disappointed in the Comox Valley, but be sure to plan enough time to enjoy your stay instead of just passing through, and even consider day-tripping to the more remote destinations, on the island from your “home base” in the Valley. Don’t forget to visit Cumberland and the Mining Museum for a fascinating look back in time to the arduous life of a coal-mining community.
Speaking of staying, get the locals’ perspective and additional tips to make your Valley stay amazing. By choosing one of the association’s B&Bs, which best fits your style and personality, you will enjoy the comfort and safety of having a “home-away-from-home” and the benefits of having an island concierge whose goal it is to help you make the most of your time here in paradise.
Whether you’re here as a local enjoying a “getaway” or visiting from far-away places, the Comox Valley is the perfect place to Discover, Explore, and Play. You’ll never be the same!