Oceanside to Courtenay
The Oceanside Route takes you as close to the water as you can get… travelling north from Nanaimo to Courtenay; this is one of our favorite routes. Whether you stretch the trip over days, never stop along the way until you get to Courtenay, or, stop at every one of the great spots highlighted within this page, you are sure to enjoy the Route.
Once on Hwy 19 travelling from Nanaimo to Nanoose Bay, you can’t but help to see the water to your right . This low area, close to the water was once a bustling lumber mill and town called Red Gap, and the stilts of the mill can still be seen rising from the muddy shores of the bay. Turn right at the Petrocan Gas Station and up the hill to a right turn towards the Fairwinds Golf Course. You start to notice the rural feeling of this area, diverse and filled with wildlife… please be alert. The homes in Fairwinds are spectacular and the line between the golf course and residences are often blurred.
Natural rock outcrops make this a favorite drive as you make your way towards Schooner Cove. This is a great marina and a safe boat launch awaits your watercraft.
Leaving Nanoose you come to Parksville and Rathtrevor Beach. I love this Provincial Park as the parking is free, the toilets clean, the picnic areas large, and close to the beach… lots of room for everyone to stretch their legs. Driving into Qualicum Beach, you can’t help but notice the crescent shaped beach that seems to go for hours. We like the Shady Rest for lunch or dinner. They have two patios, are on the beach, and have good food. We always meet great people here. Walk the beach or walk across the road to the liquor store to pick up a BC Wine to have with your next meal.
Driving from Qualicum Beach you start to leave the people behind, traffic thins and you notice that more of the Salish Sea is on your right. Long expanses of forest at times envelope you on your drive up island and you`ll be reminded of how temperate the climate is here. Rivers, streams, ferns, eagles and deer will catch your attention and mix up this great drive. The Fanny Bay Inn is another favorite stop. Try their great Fish and Chips and take them out back to the beautiful outdoor picnic area. Ample parking makes it a great stop for groups of motorcyclists, some of my favorite people!
Coming into Union Bay, you must plan to stop at The Union Bay Studio. This place, regardless of the time of year, or the weather conditions is worth a visit. This is my Disneyland… I`m not kidding. Corrie and her husband Darryl are a couple who have parlayed their creative talents into a studio environment that is both an inside and outside experience. That`s all I`ll say… do yourselves a favour and go there.
Courtenay has amazing shops and restaurants. I love the downtown area of 5th Street. Fantastic shops line the street and are unique and colourful. Here you can find an eclectic group of stores to satisfy any need.