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Photo by: Sam Vandervalk
Photo by: Sam Vandervalk

Qualicum/Qualicum Beach

Qualicum is a retirement community right next to Qualicum beach. Stop along highway 19A for great views of the beach, Hornby Island to the north and Lasquitti and Texada Islands to the east. The salty air combined with the perfume from the floral display will tickle your senses during spring and summer months.

Fast Facts


population icon 33

 

Population:
8900


Following the coastline from Nanoose Bay to the Campbell River, The Oceanside Route is a scenic section of the Island that is located on Hwy 19A, and runs parallel to Inland Island Highway on Hwy 19. Parksville and Qualicum Beach offer some unique sights. Continue strolling through the wonderful cummunities of Buckley Back, Fanny Bay, and Union Bay, and then go north through Black Creek, Oyster River, Merville, to Campbell River. There are many attractions alongside the Oceanside Route; golf courses, beaches, and many other attractions makes it one of the island most popular driving tours.

Local Attractions

About 15 minutes north of Qualicum lies The Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery. Here, the salmon come to spawn from August to late October. There are concrete holding pens and viewing windows that make watching easy and comfortable.

The area is home to different artists: sculptors, painters, carvers, glass blowers other artisans. Tourists are welcomed to visit their studios.

Deep in the heart of Qualicum Beach lies the Old School House Art Centre, which exhibits many creations by local artisans and holds frequent workshops, concerts and classes. You can pick a brochure and locate the local galleries that are open for public tours; they are available at the Visitor Centre.

The Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach is a good place for live theatre enthusiasts, as it offers shows both in winter and summer. Most of these productions are created by resident ECHO Players.

“Powerful” artifacts can be found at the Power House Museum. Turn on the lights and test your power on Power Cycle! Storyboards that records early settlement history, storyboards, blacksmithing took, logging and carpentry can also be found at Power House Museum. You can examine antique gold paraphernalia and learn more about Georgia Strait Shipwrecks.

By visiting Vancouver Island Paleontology Museum will feel like taking a journey into our prehistoric past. This museum display the most complete and intact collection of Vancouver Island fossils, featuring fossils from BC and from all over the world. Rambling Rosie, a 70,000 year old adult female walrus fossil is the start of the museum. It was discovered 10km north of Qualicum Bay in 1979.

In May, The Fire & Ice Street Festival attracts more than 6,000 locals and visitors.  Ice carvers compete to create sculptures made from a block of ice, chiseled down to look incredible. In the Chili Cook Off, teams compete for serving and eating the hottest chili. Other festivities include awards ceremony and street ceremony.

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Gardens & Forests

Perched on the edge of an Oceanside, overlooking the Strait of Georgia, 70 acres of unspoiled natural beauty can be found at Milner Gardens and Woodland. Stroll through the winding pathways and mesmerizing surroundings of an ancient Douglas Fir forest. As you meander 10 acres of woodland gardens, lined with cyclamen, rhododendron, and other indigenous plant, peace and tranquil will surround you. After the stroll, take in the history of the house where Queen Elizabeth once stayed, while enjoying a traditional English tea.

Stand of trees over 300-year-old can be found in the 500 acres of Coastal Douglas fir forest, which is protected by The Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach. Every year, thousands of visitors walk the undisturbed bark mulch trails of the forest, and are in wonder at the pure wilderness. The forest is located only minutes from the downtown of Qualicum bay.

Natural habitat for marsh birds can be found in Hamilton Marsh. This habitat is particularly active in fall and spring with migrations of geese and ducks. From the small parking lot, you can take woodland trails that lead you around the marsh, with a clear view of the marsh inhabitants. Hamilton Marsh, 360 hectares, is the most productive waterfowl breeding marsh in Vancouver Island. It is surrounded by second-growth forest. The Marsh’s location is 10 minutes drive south of Qualicum beach, on South Hilliers Road, off the Alberni Highway 4.

Outdoor Activities

Golf Courses

6 golf courses can be found on Qualicum Beach area, being opened all year long due to the sunny and friendly weather. You can select from Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course, Eaglecrest Golf Course, Arrowsmith Golf, and Country Club.

Fishing

Fall Chinook fishing can be decent in front of the Big and Little Qualicum Rivers by boat. Fly fisherman can be seen on the rocky beaches of Qualicum Bay and Nile Creek or down by French Creek from mid August to October as both the Pink and Coho salmon come back to spawn. Kids also cast of their lines off the dock French Creek dock to catch perch and small minnows.

Marinas: 

French Creek, Schooner Cove, Deep Bay, are homes for marinas with moorage. Visitors are welcome to visit boaters; full services nearby, including restaurants are available.

Water Sports

Accessible shorelines and good weather makes a good combo for windsurfers and kayakers. You can get everything from local outfitters, including lessons. At French Creek, Hwy 19 north of Parksville, there is a federal dock sheltered by a study breakwater; this serves as a small hint that weather get breezy here every now and then, most of the time in the winter months when winds blow from southeast.

Bird Watching

Little Qualicum River Estuary in Qualicum Beach beside Hwy 19A provides a well-suited site for launching a canoe, light-weight boat or canoe. You will find easygoing paddling in Marshall Stevenson Wildlife Perserve and Qualicum National Wildlife Area.

Spawning Salmon

Learn more about the life cycle of salmon in BC and take a tour of the fish hatchery at Qualicum Fish Hatchery—located on the Qualicum River.  You can have an eye-to-eye encounter in the viewing area and the holding pens located underwater. You can do this during late August to September. While all species of Pacific salmon return to Big Qualicum, the most interesting are the Chinook Salmon

Provincial Parks

Spider Lake Provincial Park

8 kms west of Hwy 19A, near Horne Lake, you can find Spider Lake Provincial Park. This location is known for its warm water and good conditions for kayaking and canoeing. Besides the warm, clear waters of the lake, there is a stretch of beach, on which no monitorized boats are allowed. If you want to unwind from travel, spend some hours picnicking here, or even throw a hook if you fancy smallmouth bass. Spider Lake is stocked regularly; come in early spring or wait until fall for a great experience. The lake, being indented by some bays, offers a peaceful experience.

MacMillan Provincial Park

Widely known for Cathedral Grove, here you will find some of the most accessible giant Douglas-fir trees on Vancouver Island. Many of the trees here are over 800 years old; walking the trails through this forest can inspire your artist within. You can take the loop trails on either side of the highway to visit the forest strands. If you take the south loop, you can see the largest Douglas-fir trees; their biggest measuring over 9m in circumference. The northern loop goes through groves of ancient Western Red Cedar near the shores of Cameron Lake. The park is located on Highway 4, west of Qualicum Beach, on the shores of Cameron Lake.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

The scenic Little Qualicum River is straddled by Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. You can see gorgeous waterfalls cascade and plummet down a rough rocky gorge in a mesmerizing forest setting. Besides being the most wonderful park in Vancouver Island, this 440-hectare park is also a good recreation area for families. The entire southern shore of Cameron Lake is included in Little Qualicum Falls. Cool, clear swimming holes and rambling riverside trails makes Qualicum Falls a great destination.

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Along the Englishman River lies the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, which features a breathtaking canyon between two spectacular waterfalls that cascade along the descending riverbed. Plenty of walking trails are available at this 97-hectare park. They meander through the forest of cedar, maple, hemlock and arbutus. Gaze up among the tall timbers where fingers of sunlight slant down to the ferns below. You’ll find tent sites and 105 vehicle; there’s great summer swimming, picnicking, and even a 2-mile walking trail that passes through a stand of maple trees with an impressive view of a waterfall and gorge. It is located just south of nearby Errington.

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

Several hundreds of caves are available for exploring on Vancouver Island, especially those loced at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park, just 20 km west of Hwy 19 Qualicum Bay. Seven caves are protected in the Horne Lake Cave system. Tours are conducted in July and August by knowledgeable guides from Canadian Cave Conservancy—a nonprofit organization intended to protect, manage and interpret Canada’s Cave resources. A small fee may be charged. In the summer, you can join the challenging Riverbend Trailtours and Karst Trail; they last about two hours. You can always take a self-guided tour from Main Cave and Lower cave. Although the distance is modest, about 200 meters, you’ll have to duck, bend, and squeeze your way through some narrow passages. You can follow the gravel road that leads to the parking area at the end of the Horne Lake.

No matter the season when you arrive, when you go on a tour you should prepare by dressing warmly, carrying a flashlight, and wearing sturdy boots. If you’re adventurous and want to dive deeper into caves, then the three-four-hour Riverbed Bottoming trip should be your choice. This trip leads down through some vertical pits, the deepest being nearly 19 meters.

Kulth Music Festival

Local and international artists perform folk, electronic and reggae music at The Kulth Music fest. Held in nearby Coombs in Mid July, this festival is for people of all ages. The festival is helt at the Coombs Rodeo Grounds, Alberni Highway.

History

Qualicum name comes from a term by the original Coast Salish settlers. The area was nicknamed Qualicum for the area as “where the dog salmon run”.  It was a wonderful place to pick berries, dig for clams, and fish.

Deep down in the eerie British heritage, famous for its local crafts, arts and wonderful English garden, lies Qualicum Beach, where you can experience the same gentle and golden countryside and seemingly endless sandy beaches. There are six provincial parks located in the nearby of Qualicum Beach.

Qualicum Beach, similar to its close neighbor Parksillve, is an enchanting seaside village that will capture your heart. Accessible by rail, air, or road, Qualicum Bay makes a great playground to enjoy your pleasurable vacation activities on Vancouver Island.