It’s that time of year here in Cowichan when the sun is out and the days are hot. The locals here know how to escape the heat while having some fun too. On top of offering many amazing spots along the coast to witness wildlife and relax at the beach, Cowichan also has a bunch of lakes and rivers to explore. Grab a paddle, some friends or family, and lots of sunscreen because it’s a hot one here in Cowichan!
1. Take A Paddle Off The Coast
From sunrise to sunset (and even after sunset when the moon is out!) you can get out on the water and experience the beauty of our Pacific Ocean.
At Blue Dog Kayaking in Mill Bay, there’s no need to be a pro; they offer plenty of instructional classes to get you started or improve your skills. They also offer a wide variety of guided tours where you’re sure to see plenty of the local wildlife, like harbor seals or sea lions.
Staying in Duncan and looking for a paddle closer by? Head down to Maple Bay and hop into a kayak from Wilderness Kayaking. They offer tons of guided tours around the harbour and local coastline. Once you have the hang of it, rent your own equipment for a few hours and tour around the surrounding coast.
When you’re done exploring the local waters head over to the Lion Rampant Scottish Pub for some excellent classic eats.
2. Or Sit Back and Just Enjoy The Views
Not feeling like a paddle but still want to see the wildlife along our coast? No problem! Ocean Ecoventures offers half-day and full-day tours around the local Salish Sea where you can see everything from bald eagles and sea lions to gray and minke whales.
3. Let The Water Be Your Guide
After a day out at sea you might be ready for a lazy afternoon. What better way to keep on enjoying the Warmland sun than heading over to Lake Cowichan and hopping on a tube to float down the Cowichan River.
You can BYOT (Bring Your Own Tube) or rent one from Tube Shack. The 2.5-hour leisurely ride down the river gives you a whole new view of the beautiful scenery we have here in Cowichan. At the end of your trip down the river, jump on the complimentary shuttle service taking you right back to Lake Cowichan and the Tube Shack.
Once you’re back in Lake Cowichan, head over to Jake’s at the Lake for burgers and great Red Arrow Brewing beer.
4. Swimming Spots
Beyond Cowichan Lake, don’t forget about the other amazing lakes we have tucked away. A hidden gem right on Cowichan Lake is Arbutus Park in Youbou. Equipped with a playground, covered picnic area and lifeguards (in the summer) this is an excellent spot for the whole family to relax and play!
Shawnigan Lake is a can’t miss destination in the Cowichan region due to its stunning scenery, great public parks, and of course heat-beating water. If you’re planning a visit we recommend picking up some tasty treats from Oma’s Bakery & Market in Shawnigan Lake village and then heading to Old Mill Park. Old Mill Park has lots of space to sit and enjoy the view, offering access to the lake and a playground.
In Chemainus, dive into Fuller Lake for the perfect lake day getaway. Fuller Lake is less than a 5-minute drive from the heart of Chemainus and has lots of space to sit back, relax, and soak in the rays…or get a little competitive with a diving competition off of the floating pier. Just a short drive from the lake, Riot Brewing Co. offers a different solution to the heat of the summer.
5. Reel In The Good Times (And Dinner Too!)
For those interested in getting out the ol’ rod and reel, book a trip with Kenzie’s Fishing Adventures or River Quest Charters.
With a license to fish in over 44 lakes and 11 rivers, you’ll never have to fish the same place twice. Their trips include fishing for all the big ones: steelhead, salmon, bass, and trout. Regardless of whether you’re just casting your line for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro, these local guides have a fishing adventure that will suit you.
If you’re coming to fish, you may as well make a weekend of it. Book your group into the Cowichan River Lodge for an extended stay. Located right on the bank of the Cowichan River, the Lodge gives visitors a front row seat to the natural environment of the area. With extensive grounds and comfortable living space, this is the perfect retreat for fishing and outdoor enthusiasts alike!
6. Dive Right In
The Cowichan coast offers some stunning spots for divers. Chemainus and Ladysmith are home to spectacular diving conditions. Just outside of Chemainus rests a purposefully sunken Boeing 737. The aircraft was sunk to create an artificial reef and serves as an excellent spot for diving and underwater photo ops.
Off the Ladysmith coast lies the historic shipwreck of the Robert Kerr. This 190-foot vessel sunk in 1911 and remains in surprisingly good condition (for a ship that has been submerged in eight to 15 metres of water for over 100 years). The wreck is now home to a wide variety of sea life that makes for some very interesting diving.
For certified divers, Pacific Watersports rents full scuba gear or individual pieces of equipment. Just remember to bring your certification card with you!
7. Stroll Around Our Seaside Towns
Once you’ve dried off from your day at sea there are some spectacular seaside towns that will make you feel like you never really left the water.
Start off in Cowichan Bay, a Cittaslow community, where things really slow down so you can always hear the waves washing up along the rocks and the birds flying overhead. While you’re walking along the main street, be sure to stop in for some Old World inspired handmade bread and pastries at True Grain Bread. Afterwards, stroll down to the park which looks out to Genoa Bay and the Cowichan Estuary for an amazing view that pairs perfectly with a True Grain treat.
A nearby spot where you could take your picnic for a spectacular view is down to Ladysmith’s Amphitheatre located at Transfer Beach. Here you are able to lookout over the covered inlet and often can spot Bald Eagles soaring overhead. Continue down the Transfer Beach trail or take Dogpatch trail and work your way towards Ladysmith’s Maritime Museum.
Not far away, Crofton offers visitors the opportunity to stroll through a quaint seaside town. The walk along the Crofton Boardwalk gives you a great view of the local harbour and surrounding bay, eventually winding you in to the heart of the town. The Osborne Bay Pub has become a hot-spot, not only for their delicious menu but for a live show with your dinner this is the place to be. The pub features the best of our local talent with shows almost every week during the summer.
8. Learn About The Waters Around You
Now that you’ve seen and experienced the water, you may be curious to learn more about everything on and around our coast.
At the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre in Cowichan Bay visitors can learn all about the estuary, the bay and the watershed around them. A perfect place for kids and adults alike, the Centre offers you the chance to interact with some of the local marine life housed in their touch tank and aquarium. You can also explore the oceanfront interpretive trail to observe the local migrant birds that rest at the estuary.
Afterwards, head over to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre. The Centre not only boasts the annual Wooden Boat Festival, but also contains numerous displays.
Cap off your local waters day of discovery at the floating Ladysmith Maritime Museum. Here you’ll discover interesting displays on local maritime history, authentic artifacts and nautical displays, as well as a 16-foot skiff dinghy!
9. Set Sail For A Day Of Adventure
What better way to spend a day out on the water than to hoist your own sail and set out for a trip. With loads of islands right off the coast and plenty of wildlife to see along the way, water travel is truly the best way to get around.
Luckily, in Cowichan, we have plenty of marinas for you to tie-up at once your sea legs are ready for a break. At Maple Bay Marina the Shipyard Restaurant and Pub offers visitors a unique lunch spot. The Shipyard Restaurant & Pub was originally a working shipyard, after the shipyard closed the building was converted into the restaurant it is now. The building still has some of the original structure left from its shipyard days, adding a rustic charm to the stunning views of the bay.
A little float down the coast, towards Victoria, is Genoa Bay Marina, and looking out over the marina is the Genoa Bay Cafe, a picturesque, casual fine dining restaurant, with delicious dishes will make you want to spend a few nights in this spot.
There are many other marvellous marinas to dock at in Cowichan too, to find more amazing spots go to www.tourismcowichan.com/activities/boating-marinas/.
10. Enjoy The Water With A Meal
After all these water activities we’re sure that you are probably getting hungry.
Take in amazing views of Cowichan Bay from Rock Cod Cafe’s patio seating. While you’re enjoying the view don’t forget to try some of their amazing food off their 99% Ocean Wise certified menu.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat that’s even closer to the water, try breakfast or lunch at the Oyster Bay Cafe in Ladysmith. Oyster Bay Cafe is right in the Ladysmith Marina giving you the chance to have a meal on the water.
Any way you choose to spend your hot summer day, the water here in Cowichan always promises to be a perfect getaway.