A new year brings new opportunities for adventure! In Cowichan, we believe that you can experience a laid-back morning, an afternoon packed with adventure and an evening of luxury all within the same day. There are so many one of a kind activities in this region we’ve prepared a 2019 bucket list of activities to add to your travel lineup.

1. Raptors

Birds of prey have always inspired awe, and it’s easy to understand why. At the Raptor Centre in Duncan, you have the opportunity to get up-close with these magnificent creatures. Home to eagles, owls, falcons and many more birds of prey, at the Raptors you can take in a flying demonstration or stroll through the forest with a hawk as a companion on a Hawk Walk.

The Raptors reopen for the season on March 8th.

2. Mountain Bike

Ride the mountain trails of Vancouver Island’s best-kept secret. The Cowichan biking scene offers tracks and trails for riders of all skill levels. Looking for easier trails? Cruise around the paths of the Cobble Hill bike park. More experienced riders will find ample trails on Maple Mountain and Mount Tzouhalem. And for the downhill riders, we have some wickedly steep trails on Mount Prevost.

Regardless of what tracks you end up riding, at the end of the day you’re going to want to treat yourself with a pint of craft brew from one of the local breweries.

3. Charm of the Islands

France has champagne, Tuscany has Chianti, and Vancouver Island has the Charme de l’Ile, This Prosecco-style sparkling wine is only found on our west coast islands. Cowichan is home to three different Charme de l’Ile interpretations that are all produced in the classic Charmat Method.

Unsworth Vineyards in Cobble Hill has produced a Rosé Charme de l’Ile as well as a traditional white Charme de l’Ile that is beautifully balanced with notes of green apple and citrus.

Averill Creek’s Charme de l’Ile has notes of crisp apple and citrus flavours topped with toasty, nutty notes. This light and fresh bubbly is a perfect apéritif or accompaniment to a light meal.

Enrico Winery’s Célébration is a floral and citrus sparkling wine that pours in a beautiful golden colour from the Estate Pinot Gris grapes. Enrico also produces a Rose Charme de l’Ile, Revelation has fruity tones of wild strawberry, cranberry and a grapefruit finish.

Taste these wines in the landscape that they were crafted, but don’t forget to take some home as a memento of your time in Cowichan.

4.Chemainus Theatre

The 2019 show list at the Chemainus Theatre Festival is one that you won’t want to miss. Not only are they opening with the classic Sound of Music, but their summer show is Mamma Mia!

This is going to be a busy season for the theatre, so you’ll want to make sure you book your tickets well in advance.

5. Moonlight Kayak

Looking for a bit of magic in 2019? Go for a full moon kayaking tour with Wilderness Kayaking in Maple Bay. Watch the full moon rise over Salt Spring Island, every full moon from April to September. Enjoy a hot chocolate as you float over the pristine waters of Maple Bay.

Romance your soul in Ladysmith for Sealegs Kayaking Adventures’ full moon tour. Paddle out in the Ladysmith harbour and experience the light of the moon and the light of the hillside community come together.

6. Island Circuit

Is 2019 your year for speed? Check out Canada’s only year-round motorsport circuit. You can sign up for a day of driving and instruction with the Taste of the Circuit, or book yourself in for specific driver training. 

If speed isn’t your thing, you can enjoy lunch at the paddock lounge and watch as other drivers testing the circuit.

7. Kinsol Trestle – The Great Trail

The Kinsol Trestle is an iconic landmark here on Vancouver Island. Standing an impressive 44-metres tall and spanning 187-metres, it one of the tallest free-standing timber trestles in the world. The trestle is a part of the Great Trail and is only a two-kilometre walk from the parking lot, making it a perfect afternoon adventure for trekkers of all ages.

The trestle has a long history in the region that dates back to 1914. Stop in at the Shawnigan Lake Museum before walking out to the trestle to get the full story.

8. Farm to Table

Cowichan is home to more than 800 farms. With an abundance of fresh ingredients, there are many restaurants in Cowichan that produce excellent farm to table menus.

Near Lake Cowichan enjoy an incredible dinner at Farm Table Inn (watch out for the chickens on the drive up to the main building!). Or spend the night at the Bed & Breakfast to enjoy some truly farm fresh eggs!

Alderlea Farm opens again for the season in March. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a farm to table experience as you can sit on the veranda and watch the cattle graze. In the summer, mark your calendar for their pizza nights!

The Ainslie in Duncan is one of the newest restaurants in Cowichan, and they are offering an impressive farm to table menu. Prepared by chef Ian Blom, this new eatery is a must stop on your Cowichan tasting tour.

9. Gallery Time

From painting to pottery, woodwork to photography Cowichan is home to all disciplines of art.

Take in one of the rotating exhibits at the Ou Gallery. Or explore the historic building that the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery calls home.

In Cowichan Bay soak in the deep history of the Arthur Vickers Gallery. Vickers’ art has roots that are thousands of years old, and his work is at the forefront of contemporary First Nations art. Vickers is world renowned for his sophisticated work, which you can experience first-hand at this gallery in Cowichan.

10. Sips for Savouring

2018 brought some incredible new beverage businesses into the region. Make sure you put these new stops on our tasting and touring lists.

Grab a pint in Duncan at Small Block Brewing — the newest brewery in the region. Then head across the parking lot to Stillhead Distillery and sample some award-winning gin.

Just outside of Maple Bay is the brand new Valley Cider. They opened their tasting room last summer and is a must stop for cider lovers.

These are just some ideas to add to your Cowichan Bucket list. Let us know what’s on your list and start planning your trip today!

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