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Parksville BC: Your Beach Getaway on Vancouver Island

About Parksville

Parksville BC is a beach holiday destination on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island. It is an ocean-front community overlooking the Strait of Georgia north of Nanaimo and south of Qualicum Beach. Frequently Parksville and Qualicum Beach are lumped together as one location and even share the same tourism board. Parksville BC has a population of approximately 13,000 year-round residents while Qualicum Beach has about 9,000.

In addition to its reputation of a beach town, Parksville BC is also becoming a popular retirement destination. There are several vibrant retirement “communities” popping up in the area and when combined with the incredibly mild climate, it makes it easy to keep an active lifestyle.  

Sand Sculpture Competition - Parksville BC
Sand Sculpture Competition - Parksville BC
Sand Sculpture Competition - Parksville BC

Things to Do

Unlike many of the pebbly west coast beaches, the oceanfront playground of Parksville BC is known for its sheltered, shallow and sandy beach. Therefore, much of what there is to do in Parksville, centers around the beach. Sandcastle building, kite flying, exploring tide pools at low tide, beach volleyball and stand-up paddle boarding are very popular activities.

Additionally, Parksville has several golf courses, adventure parks for the kids and spots for nature walks. And with its central island location, it also makes a prime base location for exploring the region.

If you are lucky enough to visit in March, you may get to experience the annual herring spawn that turns the ocean into a milky turquoise colour. It's quite the spectacle!

Where to Stay in Parksville BC

One thing we couldn’t help but notice was the similarity of some of the lodging names. Double check before you book to ensure you are confirming the one you really want. The most popular accommodations in the area are:

Where to Stay in Qualicum Beach

Sand Sculpture Competition - Parksville BC

What to Do

Golfing

With several golf courses within 30 minutes of Parksville BC, you're sure to find one to match your level of play and budget. And just to rub it in, it's so mild here that golf courses are open year round!

Mini Golf and Bumper Boats

Do your kids love bumper cars at the fair? How about bumper boats? At Paradise Mini Golf and Fun Park kids of all ages can enjoy driving their own boat at this wet and wild attraction (height and weight restrictions apply, check their website for details). And as the name implies, its also the destination for mini golf. Choose from two different themed courses - Turn 'n Surf or Treasure Island - each with 18 holes. Round off the fun with indoor arcade games. 

Day Trip to Coombs

Coombs is a funky little town about 10 kms west of Parksville BC that boasts over a million visitors annually who come to meet and take pictures of their most popular residents - goats! Not just any goats though, these ones live on the sod roof of the Old Country Market!

Although the goats are the highlight for many, Coombs is also home to eclectic shops, artistic studios, outstanding local produce and products, a garden store, surf shop, the Coombs Emporium (giant stone sculptures) and a unique store called Demxx.

Folks travel from across the island to visit this store full of reclaimed lumber, building materials, home and garden decor and antiques.

You never know what you'll find in Coombs!

Goats pooping magnet - Coombs BC

Day Trip to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

The two biggest attractions at Englishman River Falls park are the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls - each spectacular in their own right. The park has a large day-use area, welcomes pets on a leash and is very popular with hikers and swimmers.

Hikers enjoy 3 kms of well maintained trails that meander through old-growth and second-growth forest of fir, cedar, hemlock and maple. The  scenery is particularly outstanding from the two bridges that cross the river. 

Swimming is allowed in the river below the lower falls. When river levels are low, the deep crystal-clear pool makes for an ideal swimming hole. Note there are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.

With its close proximity to Parksville BC, visiting this park is an easy day trip that is well worth it.

Beach Activities

Of course if you're visiting a beach town, maybe all you want to do is spend the day at the beach! With 19 kilometres of shoreline and a wide, sandy beach that goes out for a kilometre at low tide, the Parksville/Qualicum area is paradise. There is plenty of beach for everyone and for all your favourite activities:

  • swimming
  • stand up paddling
  • sandcastle building
  • kite flying
  • playing beach volleyball
  • beachcombing
  • tide pool exploring
  • picnicking
  • sunbathing

Where to Eat

There are several options in the Parksville/Qualicum area. Some favourites include:

  • Realm Food Co. - healthy food, locally sourced
  • Lefty's Restaurant - tacos, pizza and burgers
  • Mekong River - Vietnamese
  • Salt Pizzeria - every imaginable type of pizza!
  • Dosirak Restaurant - Korean
  • Chameleons - pasta, seafood
  • Taste Bistro - sandwiches and burgers
  • Black Goose Inn - appy's, burgers, fish, salads
  • Rod and Gun Bar & Grill - soups, salads, burgers

Parksville Beach Guide

Rathtrevor Beach

Rathtrevor Beach is an ocean water beach located beside the provincial park and campground of the same name. Several resorts (along Resort Drive) are located along Rathtrevor Beach which includes approximately 5 kilometres of beachfront, along with parkland and various trails. During low tide - the water recedes an astounding 1 km, leaving behind an oasis of intertidal pools waiting to be explored.

The beach is shallow and sandy and is one of the warmest places to swim in the ocean.

The beach is also well known for viewing the migrating Brant Geese between mid-February and the end of April. During this time, no pets are allowed within 100 metres of the beach.

Parksville Community Beach

In addition to the warm, shallow, sandy beach that is awesome for being in the water, the Parksville Community Beach is well known for:

  1. The annual sand sculpture competition
  2. Beach volleyball league play and tournaments
  3. It is home to one of the most awesome playgrounds for children. My son loved the zipline! Other play structures include swings, slides and water cannons

The Parksville Community Beach is located in the heart of town at 193 Beachside Drive.

Qualicum Beach

With a name like Qualicum Beach it is pretty obviously a beach town! Located just 11 km north of Parksville, Qualicum Beach features its own slice of ocean paradise. Similar to the beaches in Parksville, you can expect golden sand, and a sheltered, shallow beach ideal for beachcombing. The town also boasts 4km of accessible, paved seafront walkway that welcomes hikers and bikers. With benches and picnic tables and easy access to the highway, it is a perfect destination for a day trip or a leisurely stop to stretch your legs as you pass through. 

Weather in Parksville BC

Those of who get to call this island home know how lucky we are. Our climate is the envy of the rest of the country with our moderate year-round weather. Parksville rarely dips below freezing in the winter and averages a comfortable 21-24ºC in the summer (approximately 70-75ºF). A Globe and Mail article once dubbed Parksville Qualicum Beach "Canada's Riveria" and we don't disagree! As for rain, the region does get some but also benefits from the rain shadow of local mountains. Most of the precipitation occurs October to January with summers being largely warm and dry. 

Getting to Parksville BC

There is no bridge to Vancouver Island; therefore arriving by sea or air are your two choices - and you simply can't go wrong with either.

Parksville Qualicum Beach is located in Vancouver Island's Central Region, approximately 2.5 hours north of Victoria which has both an international airport and vehicle ferry terminals from both the Canadian mainland and also from USA.

Nanaimo is located just .5 hours south of Parksville and has a regional airport and ferry terminals from mainland Canada. A third option for flights is to arrive at the Comox Regional Airport. Vehicle rentals are available at all airports.

However you get here, the warm, friendly people and breathtaking scenery of ocean water, forests and mountains that await just may convince you to never leave!

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