If you’ve been to Cowichan, you know that a few days simply isn’t enough to explore what this destination has to offer. Extending from the Malahat Highway to Ladysmith and inland to Nitinat Lake (covering about 373,000 hectares!) a Cowichan itinerary could fill weeks and even months.
A first-time traveller has much to experience — as does a returning visitor. Whether you’ve already crossed well-travelled and iconic Cowichan attractions off your list or not, we encourage you to slow down and take the scenic route to uncover some of the lesser-known remarkable experiences and start planning your trip to the Warm Land.
Share your own Cowichan curiosities on social with #GetCuriousCowichan!
Sleep soundly, Off The BEaten Track
In Cowichan, there are plenty of places to stay in the urban areas. But venture just a few minutes beyond any downtown and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find quiet little hideaways that are the perfect basecamp for your visit to the region, all wrapped in Cowichan’s breathtaking ambiance. For something a little different, we recommend checking out the following properties for an intimate, rural experience.Find unique places to stay 🠒
Give It the beans
Whether you’re the type of visitor who wants to seize the day or prefer a milder pace, you can never go wrong when starting your day at a local coffee shop or roastery. Grab a freshly baked treat or some artisan chocolates to keep you going no matter where the day’s adventures take you. Drumroaster, the region’s signature roastery, is as close to bean-to-cup as you can get. Meanwhile, the Wheelbase in Duncan is the ultimate gathering place for cyclists of every genre.
- Shawnigan Coffee & Chocolate – Shawnigan Lake
- Drumroaster Coffee – Cobble Hill
- Wheelbase Cafe – Duncan
- Wild Poppy – Ladysmith
sIP, SAVOUR, & sHOP in historic downtown Duncan
A trip to Cowichan would be incomplete without a visit to Downtown Duncan. Also known as the City of Totems (be sure to explore the 40+ totems beautifully carved totems through downtown), Duncan is home to many one-of-a-kind stops and shops. Pick up a coffee and peruse the charming sidewalks, discovering one eclectic store after another. Among the storefronts on Craig Street, is Chocolate Pearl—a locally-owned and operated chocolatery where on most days, you’ll find the owners themselves behind the counter.
Must-Stop Spots:See More Shopping Options 🠒
pop into an Art Gallery
Experience the region through the eyes of its artists! Throughout the region, there are dozens of artisans and masters of their craft. From pottery to paintings and carvings and photography, find the perfect memento from your travels and support the creators who call Cowichan home.
Art enthusiasts will want to check out:See More Arts & Culture 🠒
Satisfying your appetite has never been more local
The Cowichan region is quickly becoming one of Vancouver Island’s most exciting food scenes, and for good reason. Thanks to great local farms and popular slow-food movement, it’s as local as it gets. Professional chefs craft delightful dishes with the best of whatever’s in season, meaning there’s always something new to sample.
Must Stop Spots:
- The Lakehouse at Shawnigan – Shawnigan Lake
- Masthead Restaurant – Cowichan Bay
- Bridgemans Bistro – Mill Bay
Meet the makers at Duncan Farmers Market
Provisions for a trip around Cowichan are important. If you are visiting Cowichan on a Saturday, stop in at the Duncan Farmers Market. Here, see, taste and experience the best that Cowichan has to offer with over 150 local vendors. From fresh produce farmers to artisanal producers, winemakers and craftspeople, the market is a favourite for locals and visitors alike.See More Artisan Producers 🠒
See cowichan from the sea
Flanked by ocean on the eastern side, Cowichan has no shortage of on-the-water experiences. Launch kayaks in Ladysmith or Cowichan Bay, hop on a zodiac to learn more about marine wildlife, or set sail on an expedition on a classic wooden schooner with Outer Shores Expeditions.
These operators can hook you up with rentals and guided experiences:
- Coastal Bliss Adventures – Cowichan Bay
- Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching – Cowichan Bay
- Sealegs Kayaking – Ladysmith
Sip local spirits
As a key component of Vancouver Island’s agricultural sector, it’s little surprise that the Cowichan region would be a natural place for great distilleries, that use locally sourced fruits, grains, and botanicals, and are fermented and distilled by hand in small batches.
- Merridale Cidery & Distillery – Cobble Hill
- Stillhead Distillery – Duncan
- Ampersand Distilling Company – Duncan
See the past and present at Hand of Man Museum
You may have heard of TV’s great outdoorsman, Jim Shockey, from the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel. What you may not know is that Jim’s personal collection from a 30-year career spanning six continents and fifty countries resides in Maple Bay. A visit to the Hand of Man Museum of Natural History, Cultural Arts and Conservation is an unforgettable experience and one that has to make your list. Located in a converted school, every room overflows with history, from a wooly mammoth, to books dating back to 1507 and endless display cases of artifacts from around the world. This attraction alone asks more than a day to truly appreciate its contents.See More Arts & Cutlture Attractions 🠒
Visit The locals
Sometimes, the people you meet are just as impactful as the places you go. In Cowichan, no trip is complete without truly experiencing the people—and the animals—behind the region’s abundance.
When it comes to homegrown goodness, few places can compare to the abundance served up by the Cowichan region.
- The Raptors – Duncan/North Cowichan
- Yellow Point Farms – Yellow Point
- Cowichan Station Creamery – Cowichan Station
Get That vintage Vibe
Calling all thrifters! Did you know that the Cowichan Valley is one of the best places to find vintage goods on Vancouver Island? The amount of longstanding family farms, backyard mechanics, and crafty artisans makes for a region ripe with vintage goodies that have been beautifully restored to last (another) lifetime. Our local vintage stores feature furniture and housewares, retro signs and knick-knacks, and fashions from all of your favourite decades.
Plan a thrift tour of the Cowichan region, starting with these must-visits:Vintage shopping begins here 🠒
Taste a sparkling wine style that is unique to Cowichan
You may have heard that Cowichan is known for its wine, with 14 beautiful wineries dotted throughout the region. What you may not yet know, is that there is a style of wine that is unique to Cowichan: Charme de L’ile, a prosecco-style wine made in the Charmat method. A glass of this fruit-forward, bubbly wine is the perfect way to round out your Cowichan experience.
The sparkling wine is available at these fine vineyards:Check out all of our wineries 🠒
How will you get curious about cowichan?
These are just a few ideas to help get you started, but there are hundreds of places to see and things to do in the Cowichan region…and we want to hear about them from you!
Share your travels with us by tagging @CowichanTourism #GetCuriousCowichan and #ExploreCowichan in your social media posts.