- mountain biking
- whitewater paddling
- sea kayaking
- rock climbing
- SCUBA diving
Why Go? Think of Comox Valley as a mini-Whistler, but without the crowds and with a healthy dose of Island mellow. Here on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the topography goes from ocean to alpine in less than 20 km, often with the ragged Coast Range as a backdrop. Find just about everything you need—including an impressive foodie scene—in the valley’s three towns: Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland.
Play: The mountain bike trails begin right in Cumberland. Ride logging roads to Bear Buns, Blue Collar and Crafty Butcher (a classic loop). Brake-burners should head to Forbidden Plateau; for fast and flowy, nearby Hornby Island can’t be beat. When BC Hydro releases water into the Puntledge River, as they do during the annual paddling festival, it erupts into one of the best play-boating rivers in Western Canada. The Browns and Oyster are smaller, more adventurous runs. Goose Spit is considered one of the best places to learn to kiteboard on Vancouver Island—watch for southeast winds. Otherwise, it’s a good place to hang-out on the beach and paddle, either along the coast or across the harbour to the Royston Wrecks, a group of half-submerged rusting hulks. The best hikes are found at extremes: Helliwell Provincial Park’s loop-hike along coastal bluffs, or up Mount Becher. Both brag big views of the Coast Range and Strait of Georgia. In the winter, head uphill 30 minutes to Mount Washington Alpine Resort for downhill and cross-country skiing and easy access to snowy Paradise Meadows, a vast subalpine plateau. The area often claims Canada’s deepest snowpack.
Boomer Jerritt/Tourism Vancouver Island
Stay: Camp at the centrally located Puntledge RV Park. It’s right on the river, a short walk to Courtenay and about 15 minutes to everything else. For a basic room or bunk, check into the Riding Fool Hostel in Cumberland. With a cafe and bike shop in the building and a brewery/pizza joint across the street, you may never want to leave.
Eat: The co-owned Riders Pizza and Cumberland Brewing Company are the obvious choices for a post-ride refuel. Find them in “downtown” Cumberland. Courtenay’s Atlas Cafe is guaranteed good food and good service in a casual atmosphere.