by Meg Cuthbert
Enjoying the Cowichan coastline is easy. The shore is scattered with beautiful beaches, seaside communities and spectacular marinas to tie-up to. Whether you’re cruising for the day or planning a multi-day trip there are plenty of places to check out by boat.
With an abundance of local restaurants and food producers, Cowichan is a foodies paradise. There are even several restaurants and pubs located right on the water, and with easy marine access you just have to tie-up and dig-in!
Bridgemans Bistro – Mill Bay
Cruise into the Mill Bay Marina and take a rest stop at Bridgemans Bistro. Sitting high above the tides with floor to ceiling windows, the Bistro’s open concept construction provides a uniquely beautiful dining experience.
Bridgemans is becoming known for their cocktails, and the wide range of carefully crafted concoctions offer something for everyone on a sunny afternoon rest stop. Try the Bridgemans Spiked Lemonade, made with homemade lemonade that is infused with basil, dill, rosemary and mint.
The menu is full of appetizing items, including a bowl of local clams and mussels that are combined with bacon, roasted red pepper tomato broth and a hint of chipotle. Between the tantalizing menu and stunning views, you may want to sit all day rather than returning to your boat!
Mill Bay Marina
Tie-up as a visitor and moorage is free as you dine at Bridgemans Bistro. Dock overnight for $1.75/foot/night in the summer and $1.25/foot/night in the winter (with power). Docking services include fuel sales, power, potable water and wifi. The marina also offers many activities to boaters such as wine tours, dining packages and golf packages. View the full range of services on their website: http://www.millbaymarina.ca/moorage/
The Rock Cod Cafe – Cowichan Bay
Serving Oceanwise sustainable seafood, the Rock Cod Cafe in Cowichan Bay is a staple for fish and chips (and other delightful offerings from the sea)! They work hard to source sustainable seafood that is as close to home as possible.
Their fish and chips comes in huge 6oz portions, so you had better be hungry to order more than once piece! With 10 side options to choose from the Rock Cod Cafe allows you to mix-and-match your meal to create the whatever combo you’re craving.
Cowichan Bay is a perfect pitstop for boaters. Built up on stilts, the village shops offer something for everyone and the restaurants like the Rock Cod Cafe will fill you up for your ocean voyage. Two-hour marine access is available at the Fisherman’s Wharf.
Genoa Bay Cafe – Genoa Bay
Nestled just off the north side of Cowichan Bay sits Genoa Bay. The Genoa Bay Cafe is perfect for boaters looking to slow down and enjoy a meal together. This laid back establishment offers fine dining with a fun atmosphere. Sourcing ingredients from local farms and serving local beer and wine the Genoa Bay Cafe offers a truly Cowichan dining experience.
The chefs create mouthwatering dishes that range from everything from a classic fish and chips to an elegant seared tuna loin topped with blood orange and apricot chutney. In the summer enjoy sangria and fish tacos on the balcony as you look out over the marina.
Genoa Bay Marina
Stay overnight at the Genoa Bay Marina. Amenities include laundry, washrooms and showers, picnic facilities, wifi, a breakfast cabana, and a general store. This quaint and quiet little bay will make you feel at home. For rates contact: 250-746-7621
The Shipyard Restaurant & Pub – Maple Bay
Maple Bay Marina is a fabulous stop for boaters looking for lunch or an overnight stay. Cruise all the way into Maple Bay and stop in at the Shipyard Restaurant and Pub.
Built in the 1950s, the building was originally a working shipyard. In the 1980s the Shipyard received a new lease on life when it was converted into a restaurant and pub, however, it still maintains much of its historic charms — for example, all of the front ocean facing windows are from the original structure.
Enjoy the New England style Clam Chowder. Made from scratch it is filled with mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp and vegetables. It is the perfect meal after a day on the water.
Maple Bay Marina
The Maple Bay Marina offers a wide range of amenities and services for boaters. They offer fuel sales, yacht enclosures, wifi, kayak rentals, and day charters! Stop in at the Mariners Market and Espresso Bar for local art, gifts, coffee and breakfast. For boaters with day cruisers the Maple Bay Marina even offers float home accommodations. For a full list of amenities and services check out their website: http://www.maplebaymarina.com
The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub – Maple Bay
Offering some of the best ocean views along the Cowichan coast, The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub sits in the seaside neighbourhood of Maple Bay. Dock at their private pier and walk straight up to the pub. Moorage is free and the pub offers one-night complimentary moorage to their patrons.
Enjoy a range of locally sourced beers and a selection of over 45 bottles of scotch. The food is modern pub fair with a variety of menu items that have a Scottish twist (including Scottish poutine with haggis). In the summer cruise up to the pub and enjoy an afternoon meal on the patio. The pub looks over the pristine waters of Maple Bay with a stunning view of Mount Maxwell on Saltspring Island.
If you’re cruising the Cowichan waters a bit further north stop in or stay at the Ladysmith Marina or the Ladysmith Harbour Society.
The Ladysmith Marina is the last marina in the harbour. Their amenities include showers, washroom, laundry, wifi, and the local grocery stores deliver. For more information: http://www.ladysmithmarina.com
The Ladysmith Harbour Society offers visitor moorage as well as a variety of activities and events for boaters passing through. Enjoy washroom, showers and laundry services as well as a cafe (open for the summer) a Harbour Heritage Centre and Museum, and harbour tours. For more information: http://www.lmsmarina.ca
Government Wharves – The Municipality of North Cowichan operates public wharves in Chemainus, Crofton and Maple Bay. For rates and info: http://www.northcowichan.ca/EN/main/community/amenities/harbours.html
For more information on Fisherman’s Wharves you can contact the Harbour Authority Association: http://haa.bc.ca/south-island-zone/