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Photo by: Sam Vandervalk
Photo by: Guy Monty
Photo by: Sam Vandervalk
Photo by: Sam Vandervalk
Photo by: Sam Vandervalk

CENTRAL ISLANDS

The central island region includes the cities of Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Deep Bay, and Port Alberni are the main areas to visit in the Central Island region. It is known to be a place to take young families since the warm weather, beaches, short walks and slow pace make it an ideal vacation spot. Parksville and Qualicum Beach have many resorts for those wanting to stay right on the water. There are small communities around that have events going on year round.

Top things to do:

Scenic walks

There are many easy short scenic walks (we call them short hikes) within a few minutes of Parksville or Qualicum to Cathedral Grove, Little QualicumFalls,and Englishman River Falls. The Nanaimo Harbour walkor the trails through Beban Parkare beautiful walks in downtown Nanaimo. The Deep Bay Spit is a great short drive during spring months to watch birds in with a scenic background.

Rivers

The Big Qualicum fish hatchery has trout in a rearing pond during summer months. The Chinook salmon start coming up in late August and can be seen in holding pens until late September. Coho salmon can be seen during October here and Chum salmon during November. You are allowed to fly fish the Big Qualicum, Little Qualicum, Englishman and Nanaimo Rivers for returning salmon as well as trout during summer and fall seasons. Check with DFO for regulations.

Junior Hockey

There is Junior AA Hockey with the Nanaimo Clippers in Nanaimo and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Port Alberni from September to March. The Junior B Oceanside Generals play in Parksville and this league is often a little tougher with more physical play. All three hockey teams are entertaining.

Nile Creek fly fishing

A private group led by Ken Kirkby decided to restore Nile creek to its original glory with Cutthroat trout and Pink and Coho salmon. Fighting through government red tape and working to get DFO approval they restored the creek bed here. Now during August, September and October good numbers of Pink and Coho salmon are caught by fly fisherman along the shores leading up to Nile Creek. More about is Nile Creek is at http://nilecreek.org/.

Beaches

Parksville and Qualicum Beaches are great places to go all year round for a stroll. During summer months the water gets warm enough to get refreshed and do a little free diving.

Lakes

Cameron Lake, Horne Lake, and Spider Lake are all popular places to swim during summer months.

Small Island trips

Newcastle Island is a great place to catch a small passenger ferry from the Nanaimo Harbour or Denman Island and Hornby Island are fun to explore by car or bike leaving from Buckley Bay.

Skating

There is very inexpensive skating at any of the hockey rinks which include: Alberni Valley Multiplex, Oceanside Hockey Rinks (north Parksville), Beban Rink or Nanaimo Ice Center.

Golf, Mini-golf

Some of the best golfing is available on one of the many golf courses. Mini golf is available in Qualicum, Parksville and Nanaimo.

Annual Events

Parksville Sandcastle competition

Sandcastle week happens every summer bringing professionals to sculpt in a showdown for the top prize. July usually brings warm weather and it is a great time to hit the beach!

Coombs Rodeo

Every August riders try their hand at taking down colts or calves in the fastest time or trying to hang on to the bucking bull for the longest. This event provides some good laughs and entertainment and is worth taking in.