Shawnigan Lake is a hidden gem within the Cowichan Region. Bordered by Cobble Hill and Mill Bay, the Lake is surrounded by mountains and fresh west coast forests.
At the northern end of the Lake sit the Shawnigan Village — this quaint community is home to many shops and restaurants that are perfect for foodies and families alike. And with many parks and trails along its shores, it’s an adventure seekers’ paradise. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a multi-day expedition, Shawnigan Lake has an adventure for you.
Shawnigan House Coffee + Chocolate
The Shawnigan House specializes in handcrafted chocolates and locally roasted coffee. The chocolates are artfully crafted on-site, in small batches. With varieties in light, dark and white chocolate, these treats can also be handprinted to match the season or holidays. The chocolates sell out quickly, so place an order in advance to ensure you can take a box home.
Grab a coffee and some treats to go, or settle into the inviting atmosphere of the Shawnigan House and stay awhile.
The Lakehouse at Shawnigan
Located at the very northwest tip of the Lake sits the legendary Lakehouse at Shawnigan. Accessible by road and by boat, the Lakehouse has a seasonal and locally sourced menu that changes a little each day. Enjoy a meal in the stunning dining room overlooking the water — 0r dine on the patio or down on the dock in fair weather.
Compass Mexican Bistro
In the heart of the Shawnigan Village, Compass Mexican Bistro serves authentic Mexican cuisine. They take pride in their ‘from scratch’ menu, meaning the tortillas and all the fixings are made in-house, from scratch — including the margaritas. With a fully licensed patio, Compass Mexican is a must-stop location on a sunny Cowichan afternoon.
Shawnigan Vintage Barn
Specializing in vintage furniture and collectables, the Shawnigan Vintage Barn is a treasure trove for antique collectors. Their tailored collection offers an expansive selection of items that can accommodate any budget. The beautiful and intricate displays are full of interesting collectables, decorations, art, antiques and furniture. As you explore the shop, you’ll have to do a couple walkthroughs to see everything they have to offer.
Right next door to the Shawnigan House Coffee + Chocolate is Omas Bakery. Offering fresh baked goods and daily soups and salads, the bakery is a perfect stop for a light and healthy meal.
Black Swan Pub
If you’re looking for some traditional pub fare, the Black Swan is the place to go. With a wide selection of burgers, the Black Swan offers a variety of pub food with flair. Best of all, they observe Happy Hour from 3pm- 5pm every day!
Merridale at the Lake
Open for the season in May, Merridale at the Lake is the perfect destination for a lazy summer afternoon. Accessible by lake or land, you can relax lakeside while enjoying a casual home-cooked meal. They serve all the delicious traditional ciders found at the Merridale orchard, but here you can enjoy them cold by the Lake. Bring the whole family for lunch or for a scoop of ice cream to beat the summer heat.
Shawingan Lake Museum
The Museum may look small from the outside, but inside the story is big. Shawnigan Lake has a rich history of people, places and events. The Museum has become a go-to in Shawnigan Lake where people come to reconnect with their past. Staff and volunteers share their passion for Shawnigan Lake – past, present and future – with every visitor. Their Guarantee: They will surprise you!
The Museum is bursting at its seams. After almost 40 years in the building, the Society is in the process of expanding and enhancing the existing facility to improve the visitor experience, to increase community programming and for future sustainability. Check their website for current hours of operations, special events and unique programming.
The Kinsol Trestle is one of eight trestles along the Cowichan Valley Trail that passes through Cowichan, and it’s by far the most spectacular. Standing 44 metres tall and spanning 187 metres, the Kindle Trestle bridged trains over the Koksilah River from 1920 to 1970. Without trains, the trestle lay dormant for almost three decades; forgotten and vandalized, it fell into hazardous disrepair. Finally, in the summer of 2011, after being restored by passionate locals, the trestle reopened to the public as part of the Cowichan Valley Trail.
You can learn all about the trestle and its rehabilitation by stopping in at the Shawnigan Lake Museum.
Cowichan Valley Trail
Running along the west side of Shawnigan Lake, the Cowichan Valley Trail spans from the top of the Malahat travelling through Duncan to Lake Cowichan and north toward Nanaimo. This multi-use trail is perfected for walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians.
West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park
The West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park provides an expansive area for waterfront access. Equipped with a dedicated swimming area and large lawn, this is the perfect spot for a picnic or group adventure. In addition, the Park is accessible by the road and by the Cowichan Valley Trail — making it an ideal stop on a bike ride from the Kinsol Trestle.
Shawnigan Wharf Park
This little park is perfect for a picnic (maybe some takeout from Compass Mexican or Omas Bakery) or a swim right in the heart of the Shawnigan Village. In the summer, challenge your friends to some beach volleyball on the sandy court.
Old Baldy Mountain Park
On the east side of Shawnigan Lake sits Old Baldy Mountain Park. Explore the trails that travel up the side of the mountain to stunning views of the Lake and beyond.