Words by Chris Istace, Canadian Travel Writer
Looking to welcome in the longer days and sunny warm skies? Whether you are on a couple’s romantic getaway or taking advantage of the school break as a family there is something for everyone in the Cowichan Valley.
Explore and Shop City of Totems
Located in the heart of the Cowichan Valley is the City of Duncan. It is considered the commercial and historic center of the region.
The Downtown Duncan Business Association as quoted from their website states, “Duncan is home to one of the world’s most unique outdoor collections of totem poles. These works of art stand proudly beside our roads, businesses, and parks in celebration of an ancient art, and as testament to today’s thriving First Nations Culture.”
Let the exploration of the 40 totems throughout the area be unique way to visit the many shops, cafes and restaurants. Don’t forget when planning your trip that Saturday’s from 10-2 are when the famous Duncan market takes over the downtown city square.
Zip Away on a Guided Racetrack Tour
Cheers Cowichan is a wonderful destination tour provider in the region that specializes in taking the stress out of your trip. Let them help you explore the sights and sounds. This year they are offering exclusive tour and track options for Non-Circuit members at Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit.
Nestled by Mount Prevost and only 45 minutes drive from Victoria, the circuit is a world-class, dynamic, year-round motorsports club that boasts a Tilke designed, 2.3 kilometer road course built to FIA standards with a dynamic driving area and a 1.0 kilometer off-road proving ground.
Take in a Live Theatre Performance
Often mentioned as Vancouver Islands, if not the province’s finest live performance venue, the Chemainus Theatre is a memorable way to spend and afternoon or evening. The theatre also offers a well reviewed dining room and a carefully curated gift shop.
Located in the beautiful artisanal mural town of Chemainus the theatre is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary in 2017. The season features the well-known classic play Pride and Prejudice running through March. It is followed by a much anticipated musical comedy 2 Pianos 4 Hands” in April.
Have a Riot with Vancouver Island Expeditions
Vancouver Island Expeditions has been running tours to the local wineries, breweries and nature tours with rave reviews over the past seasons in the Cowichan Valley. They create authentic, intimate and memorable visitor experiences while honoring the culture, heritage, and natural beauty of Vancouver Island as quoted from their interactive website.
The unique experience they are offering for the upcoming year is an in-depth and thorough educational tour behind the scenes at Vancouver Island’s most anticipated new Craft Brewer, Riot Brewing.
Experience the Trails on Two Wheels
If you were to google mountain biking in British Columbia you would find endless information on the trails of the Cowichan Valley. One local shop that knows these trails intimately is Cowichan Cycles and for the 2017 season they are offering high-end mountain bike rentals and gear.
Don’t worry about the hassle of bringing your riding gear and bike when you pick Cowichan as your destination. Swing by the shop to get outfitted with a day rental to start your adventure. Be sure to check out Tracks and Trails page for more info and trails to visit.
Get an Early Jump on Your Swing
While the rest of Canada wakes from its winter slumber the golf courses of the Cowichan Valley have been open year-round. With an endless list of awards and recognitions Arbutus Ridge Golf Club is sure to put a smile on the face of any golfer that stops by to test their skills against this serene 18 hole golf course.
Located just outside of Duncan in the seaside community of Cobble Hill the golf course is situated alongside pristine forest and the rolling mountains of Cowichan. After enjoying your round of golf don’t forget to relax and enjoy a meal or drink at the Satellite Bar & Grille.
Have a Whale of a Time
We couldn’t be more proud to have one of the highest rated whale watching companies by Trip Advisor right here in Cowichan Bay. Ocean Ecoventures has been operating in the Cowichan Valley for over 14 years and boasts the highest Orca sightings of any tour operator on Vancouver Island.
The wildlife tours focus on the Southern Resident Orca Whales, Transient Orca Whales, Humpback Whales, Grey Whales and Minke Whales. You will also encounter Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Harbour Seals, Dalls and Harbour Porpoise as well as a myriad of marine birds on your whale watching eco tour.
Let Your Fascination Soar
So many people admire the large majestic predator birds that call the Pacific Northwest home but seldom get a chance to see them up close. Take the opportunity to be both educated and fascinated by the beautiful birds of prey at The Raptors visitor center.
The Raptors provides an interactive visit one could dub a wildlife adventure. You learn more about these birds through educational discussions, demonstrations and “hands on” experiences. Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Vultures, Falcons and more are waiting to meet you.
Immerse Yourself in a Countryside Vineyard
There are wine regions all over North America but we feel the Cowichan Valley is very special. This uniqueness comes from the fact that so many of our wineries and vineyards are immersed into the community. They are a part of the landscape that makes up the countryside. Visiting a Cowichan vineyard is like being welcomed into a friends home.
This couldn’t be a more true statement than for Emandare Vineyard where they share this message. “SIMPLY PUT, EMANDARE VINEYARD IS OUR HOME AND WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO WORK ALONGSIDE NATURE TO CAPTURE A GLIMPSE OF THIS PLACE IN EVERY BOTTLE.” The tasting room is open every Saturday from 12-4 and starting April Thursday and Friday are added to the hours.
Sleep Amongst the Kiwis
You read that right, how unique would is it to stay at a Bed and Breakfast that has an operational kiwi farm on it’s property. Located at the northernmost reaches of the Cowichan Valley is Kiwi Cove lodge. The 10 acre property features waterfront access, 12 rooms and meeting rooms for retreats or large groups.
Kiwi Cove provides a serene secluded setting to call your home base during your stay. Uniquely situated on the opposite shore of the Ladysmith Harbour. You will have beautiful views of the inlet as well as distant forest and mountains as a backdrop over the maritime town of Ladysmith. The Nanaimo airport is only 3kms away making travel plans for your Cowichan Valley stay quick and convenient.