If you want to relax along the peaceful coastline, Parksville can be an ecapist’s paradise. Often featured as one of the premier locations to be visited in Vancouver Island for young families, Parkville’s natural, laid back culture, along with its easy accessibility and central locations will make you want to come back again and again.
Parksville enjoys one of the finest climates in all Canada. There are six provincial parks located within thirty minutes drive for easy and moderate walking. A popular destination spot for tourists during the summer, Parksville’s spectacular views of the Strait of Georgia and the Vancouver Island Mountain Range, capped with snow even on a hot summer beach day, only adds to this quiet communities charm.
If you happen to come to Parksville in April, you might think that Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” has become a reality. The annual Brant Wildlife Festival celebrates the migration of nearly 20,000 Black Brant geese from California and Mexico to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska. The beaches between Qualicum and Parksville host the annual migration of thousands of Brant Geese.
The Parksville Beach Festival, held in August, hosts the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition. Tens of thousands of visitors are attracted annually to this event. The creations are made during early August, but they still remain standing until the end of the month.
Parksville summers can be described in three words: sun, swimwear and beaches. It is an excellent location to spot and spend time relaxing on the exposed shorelines. The sand here is like cement, and the long tides makes it perfect for making sand castles.
Some of the most beautiful and dynamic natural colors on the island can be found on each spring, late May or early June. Pink rhododendrons, growing wild on the shoreline of this beautiful lake are a spectacular sight. Botanists believe these species belong to a strain that survived the Ice Age. Access to Rhododendron Lake and the 5-acre groove is by private logging road. You can find signs posted at the entrance to Northwest Bay Logging Division, located approximately 7.2 km south of Parksville.
The biggest and one of the most popular beaches in the area, offers great swimming conditions, depending upon the season. This beach is one of the vastest expanses of beach sand in all BC, the beach stretching out nearly a kilometer out of the sea when the tide is low. Strait of Georgia waters tend to warm up quickly during summer, as the tide rises over the hot sand making it one of the best swimming locations on the entire island. Plenty of campsites can be found in the park, but they fill up quickly, so calling ahead of time is recommended. The beach gets its name from the Rath family, who once owned the land where the park resides.
This park has old and second growth forest of Douglas fir, hemlock, red cedar and western maple. The waterfall is located south of Errington on the picturesque Englishman River. Tumbling down on a narrow canyon the waterfall is the main piece of this 97-hectare park that has walking trails along cliffed banks of the river.
MacMillan Provincial Park is home to the infamous stand of ancient and resilient Douglas Fir known as Cathedral Grove. Its hundreds of feet tall canopy shelter visitors, leaving them amazed at the magnificence of these Vancouver Island marvels. Some of the Douglas-fir here are 800 years old, attracting and captivating visitors leaving them humbled by their natural enormity. Trails can be found on either side of the highway. The northern trail goes through groves of ancient Western Red Cedar toward the shores of Cameron Lake while the south loop showcases the largest Douglas-fir trees, biggest one measuring over 9 meters in circumference. MacMillan can be found on Highway 4 on the shores of Cameron Lake, 17 miles west of Qualicum Beach.
Anyone into spelunking? Squeezing, bending, crawling through this unique cave network is not an opportunity to be missed. Seven caves in the Horne Lake Cave system are protected by the park. Tours are available from July through August. There is a small fee, but the friendly and knowledgeable guides from Canadian Cave Conservancy will help you have an unforgettable adventure. As an alternative, self-guided tours are available to Main Cave and Lower Main Cave throughout the year. Tip: Grab your boots, warm clothes flashlights and headlamps. Adrenaline junkies should t ry the Riverbed Bottoming trip. This is a 3-4 hour guided tour that leads you through a series of vertical pits, deepest one being nearly 19 meters.
Every mid-July, the Kulth Music Fest is a unique venue held in many communities near Qualicum and Parksville. The festival was born as a method to celebrate and protect the natural environment through music and entertainment. It is a great experience for people of all age—artists, international and local are invited performing music in their preferred styles
The first Europeans to discover and explore this part of Vancouver Island were the Spanish voyagers in 1791. E & N Railroad built its right of way to McBridge Junction in 1901. Parksville was regarded a village in 1945, town in 1978 and finally city in 1986. It was name in honor of Nelson Parks, its first postmaster.