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“Island Girls” for the Weekend – a trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

By Anne Philley
 

Girls just wanna have a fun weekend with a sprinkle of work. I had to take a trip to Vancouver Island to visit some accommodation properties, members of the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association, to discuss marketing. I always mix in some fun so took along my besties.

Bay Moorings Restaurant, Horseshoe Bay

Bay Moorings Restaurant, Horseshoe Bay

Our four day weekend excursion from the hustle and bustle of city life began with travelling to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver to sail to Nanaimo. Ferry crossing time 1 hour and 40 minutes to travel 30-nautical miles. I would strongly recommend making reservations and it is worth the additional charge of $15 to be guaranteed getting the sailing of your choice, check out www.bcferries.com for more information.

We arrived in plenty of time at the terminal and decided to walk into the village at Horseshoe Bay and have an early lunch at Bay Moorings Restaurant. The food was delish and offered a great outdoor patio that has a good vantage point to watch the ferries come into the terminal and to make sure you get back to your car in plenty of time.

40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery, Comox

40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery, Comox

After disembarking in Nanaimo we travelled onto the Inland Island Hwy (Hwy 19) to Qualicum Beach where we dropped off our friend who was visiting with family. We then ventured onto the Old Island Hwy (Hwy 19A) to 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery on Anderton Road in Comox where we enjoyed wine tasting and purchased some wine. This winery offers a cellar tasting lounge and vineyard terrace.

Cruise ship seen from Passage View Motel

Cruise ship seen from Passage View Motel

Our next stop was Campbell River and the Passage View Motel, where we were greeted with a very friendly reception. This was the base for the duration of our trip. This property offers spectacular ocean views of Discovery Passage from every room and we were lucky to experience many cruise ships in the evening passing by going to Alaska or heading back to Vancouver. Rooms are very clean, provide mini-fridge, microwave, in-room coffee and tea service, free cable TV, WiFi, hairdryers and rooms are pet friendly.

View from Quay West Restaurant

View from Quay West Restaurant

After settling into our room and enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, it was time to go for dinner. We asked the staff for a recommendation and they suggested the Quay West Restaurant, 921 Island Hwy, located in downtown Campbell River.

This is a 90-seat waterfront restaurant with a good outdoor patio that offers views of Quadra Island and Discovery Passage. Menu has a good selection. After an enjoyable meal we headed back to the motel for more wine and catching up while watching all the busy activity out on the water.

Suspension Bridge Elk Falls

Suspension Bridge Elk Falls

The next morning it was time to reconnect with friends who live in Campbell River and spend quality time with them venturing around the local area. Our friend Georgina, was going to be a tourist in her own town. Our first stop was the new suspension bridge at Elk Lake Falls. This attraction is located on the northwest side of Campbell River on the Gold River Hwy, entrance is off of Brewster Lake Road. There is ample parking that can accommodate vehicles, RVs and buses. This project was made possible from funding from BC Parks, BC Hydro, Campbell River Rotary Club and the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Elk Falls

Elk Falls

There is a Presentation Centre in the parking lot which provides history and information on the project. The only washrooms available are at the start of the trail head. I would strongly recommend sturdy footwear and if you have any disabilities or are handicapped, this is probably not the trail for you. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to hike down to the suspension bridge which includes 124 stairs down and 124 stairs up. There is a cantilevered viewing platform that provides stunning views of Elk Falls from the top to the canyon bottom, not for the “faint at heart”. It was a great experience.

Jim host of Parkside

Jim host of Parkside

After leaving Elk Falls we drove to Parkside Campground & RV Park. This campground is located on the Gold River Hwy and is owned and operated by Jim and Joan Munro. It offers 50 large private treed RV and tent sites. Services include washrooms with free showers, coin laundry, electric, water, sewer hookups, sani-station, pull thrus, wheelchair access, wireless internet, fire ring/firewood and is open from May-September. It is in close proximity to Campbell River and day trip distances to Strathcona Park and Quadra Island.

View from Painters Lodge

View from Painters Lodge

After having a nice visit with the Munros and a tour around the campground, it was time to head back to Campbell River and lunch. We ended up at Painter’s Lodge. This is a legendary BC fishing lodge that offers accommodation, fishing charters, whale watching and wildlife tours. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch sitting on the outdoor patio enjoying the scenic views of Quadra Island and Discovery Passage. We were even lucky to catch a glimpse of a pod of whales. From Painter’s dock they will take you over by boat to their other property on Quadra Island, April Point Lodge. Painter’s also has a great gift shop in the lobby of the Lodge. After lunch we headed back to our friend’s place and had an enjoyable afternoon and evening catching up on all our news.

On Sunday it was another beautiful day in Campbell River and we were able to walk from our motel to the Pier Street Farmers Market & Arts Fair, an open-air market held each Sunday from May-September from 10:00 am – 2:30 pm in downtown Campbell River. It hosts many artisans, local crafts, fresh vegetables, wine tasting, live music and a variety of food.

Farmers Market Campbell River

Farmers Market Campbell River

Campbell River Pier

Campbell River Pier

We then walked over to Discovery Pier. It was Canada’s first saltwater fishing pier and extends 150 ft. from the shore, is 600 ft. long and provides access to high quality recreational fishing. It is also ideal for wildlife viewing, day and evening strolls. The pier offers fully built-in rod holders, bait stands, fish cleaning tables, covered areas, picnic tables and benches. There is free fishing and rods for kids under 16. The pier is wheelchair accessible with onsite public restrooms. It has a concession stand that offers a variety of food and serves the best ice-cream in Campbell River, which I have experienced many times on my trips over there.

Our next stop required travelling in the car with our friends, Pete and Georgina, as we headed to Tyee Spit, which is located at the mouth of Campbell River and Discovery Passage. It offers walking paths which are surrounded by beach access, picnic tables, benches and provides an opportunity to watch the float planes land and take-off. There is also access to a public boat launch.

Walkway at Tyee Spit

Walkway at Tyee Spit

After walking the trails, we stopped by Thunderbird RV Park.  This park is located on the traditional territory of the Campbell River Laich-Kwil-Tach First Nation. The campground is open year round, offers oceanfront views and has 77 serviced sites, big rig friendly pull-thrus, 15 non-serviced tent sites and offers immaculate facilities which help you get back to the basics of camping in comfort and is close to downtown shopping. It is a great spot to park your RV, sit back and enjoy the views.

Tent site Thunderbird

Tent site Thunderbird

Later that evening we went and had a farewell dinner with our friends at one of our favourite spots, Salmon Point Restaurant & Bar. This restaurant is approximately a 10 minute drive from Campbell River and is located on 2158 Salmon Point Road. The restaurant offers a good selection of food and you can enjoy dining on the outside patio or inside which also offers a fireplace for those chilly winter evenings.

Salmon Point RV Site

Salmon Point RV Site

Salmon Point Resort RV Park & Marina is within walking distance of the restaurant. This RV Park offers 28 acres of treed and open beachfront sites with full hook-ups as well as cabins, onsite RV rentals and park model units. The marina has just recently been renovated and can accommodate boats up to 32 ft. This is a great family destination with plenty to keep you busy.

The next day, after an enjoyable weekend of catching up with friends, it was time to hit the road and head back to the ferry terminal at Departure Bay in Nanaimo and home and back to reality with the promise to make this an annual trek with some other adventures to explore.

Anne Philley

About the Author

Anne Philley has worked for the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association for eleven years and is their Membership Services Co-ordinator. Anne loves to travel and has travelled to many parts of the province. She has extensive knowledge within the camping and lodging sector. Anne is the face of Super Camping, distributing 35,000 camping packages at BC & Alberta RV Consumer Shows. Anne also worked as a Volunteer for Tourism Vancouver during the Olympics and worked at the Info Kiosk at the live site on Hamilton/Beatty, as well as being a city host along the Coal Harbour sea walk prior to the games and working in the Tourism Vancouver Info Centre.

 

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