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Chemainus BC: An Artisan Village Beckoning You to Explore

About Chemainus

Chemainus BC is a small coastal community along the east coast of Vancouver Island with approximately 4,000 residents. The town name is derived from a local native shaman and prophet “Tsa-meeun-is” which is roughly translated to Broken Chest.

Chemainus BC is located approximately mid-way between Nanaimo and Victoria, and is a very popular day trip for locals and visitors to the Island. 

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Things to Do

Without a doubt, Chemainus is best known for their murals, sculptures and other artforms located throughout the town.

This is truly an artisan village.

They have made it so easy to explore the town simply by following the yellow footprints on the sidewalks which take you from one mural to the next.

Not up for walking? No problem, you can also enjoy a narrated tour in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Second only to the murals, Chemainus’ other outstanding attraction is the theatre. The Chemainus Theatre Festival is a non-profit, professional theatre featuring exceptional performers and performances. They normally host several performances each year however they are currently temporarily closed due to the pandemic. They are working hard to fund-raise in order to offer live performances for the 2022 season. Head to their website for details.

One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC

Naturally, since this is Beautiful British Columbia, another very popular activity is enjoying the spectacular outdoors. Chemainus BC is surrounded by old growth trees, the Trans Canada trail, lakes, sandy beaches and even a sunken scuba diving treasure! On January 14, 2006 a decommissioned, stripped-down Boeing 737 was intentionally sunk off the coast of Vancouver Island near Chemainus. It created the first artificial reef in BC made from an aircraft and it’s just sitting there, waiting for you to explore. Learn more here

One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC
One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC

Where to Stay

Accommodation in the Chemainus area is somewhat limited however there are a few motels, B&Bs, day and overnight moorage available at the marina and there is camping just outside of town. 

What to Do

  • Stroll through town to see all the murals and sculptures
  • Help the kids burn off energy with a trip to the skate park
  • Sit back and relax on a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy a narrated tour of town
  • Get out the SCUBA equipment and dive the Boeing 737 site
  • Walk through old growth forests
  • Enjoy a round of golf at the par 71/73 Mt Brenton Golf Course
  • Plan a day at the beach kayaking, on a SUP or just splashing in the water
One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC

Where to Eat

There’s something for everyone in Chemainus with family-style restaurants and diners, fish and chips, pizza, a bakery, and ice cream and candy shops. You can also enjoy salads, sandwiches, entrees, pizza and a terrific selection of Pacific Northwest craft beers at the Sawmill Taphouse & Grill. Or stop in for a tour, a sample, a flight or the whole sleeve of beer at the kid-friendly, dog-friendly Riot Brewing Company.  You’re invited to stay as long as you like and enjoy the expansive patio. There is no food available at the brewery but you are welcome to bring your own picnic lunch (roast your hotdogs at the fire pit), or order in from one of the local establishments. Menus available. 

Chemainus BC Beach Guide

Kinsmen Beach Park (also known as Kin Park)

This park is home to North Cowichan’s first playbox which is a storage container locked and mounted at the park that is filled with sports and play equipment, free to use! To access the box, simply email the town at playbox@northcowichan.ca and they’ll provide you with the code. How awesome is that?

The park is kid-friendly with a well-equipped playground, a sandy beach with warm, shallow water, washrooms and change rooms. It is also is a terrific spot for beachcombing, sightseeing, bird-watching and picnicking with benches and a nice grassy area. A paved boat launch and convenient parking round out the amenities. 

Cook Beach Park

A wooden staircase will lead you down to a small, rocky beach that overlooks the beautiful islands just off the coast.

Enjoy a rest on one of the washed-up logs and take in the sunrise or sunset. Access to the beach is limited during high tide.

There are limited amenities at the park with just a couple picnic tables at the top of the staircase. Parking is limited to residential street parking. 

Fuller Lake Park

Fuller Lake Park is a family favourite spot that is popular for swimming, boating and picnicking. The park features:

  • a small sandy beach
  • picnic tables
  • beach volleyball
  • tennis courts
  • a playbox similar to the one at Kinsmen Park
  • a boat launch
  • a lifeguard during summer months
  • change rooms
  • washrooms
  • a floating swimming pier
  • a grassy area (that fills up quickly with families in the summer) with both sunny and shady spots
  • electric motor boats are permitted on the lake and it boasts good fishing for cutthroat and rainbow trout
  • inflatable kayaks are available for rent
  • No pets allowed at the beach

The District of North Cowichan recently introduced a life-jacket loaner program at the park with various sized jackets available for visitors to borrow during their visit, free of charge. The lifejacket station is open from the end of June until Labour Day. 

Weather in Chemainus BC

The weather in Chemainus is very similar to that of Victoria with relatively mild winters and sunny, warm summers. And it doesn’t rain nearly as often around here as some seem to think it does! 

One of 40+ murals in the Town of Chemainus BC

Getting to Chemainus BC

Chemainus BC is located just off Highway 1 on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island. It is approximately 75 km north of Victoria (about 1 hour and 15 minutes by car) and 35 kms south of Nanaimo (about 45 minutes). 

To get to Vancouver Island, you’ll need to either take a ferry or fly here – there is no bridge from the mainland. By ferry, there are terminal locations in Victoria and Nanaimo that connect from Vancouver (Tsawwassen & Horseshoe Bay) and from the USA that arrive from Port Angeles, Anacortes and Seattle. Visit either BC Ferries or Washington State Ferries for the relevant schedules. 

By air you can arrive via the Victoria International Airport, the Nanaimo Airport or via floatplane (Harbour Air) or helicopter (Helijet). 

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