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, peruse our selection of lesser-known but remarkable experiences and start planning your trip to the Warm Land.

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Sip terroir tea at Westholme Tea Co

It’s safe to say that most people haven’t crossed “tea farm” off their bucket list yet, and Cowichan is the best place to do so. In fact, Westholme Tea Co is the first and only commercial organic tea grower in Canada. Explore the farm on a guided tour, then taste imported and blended and Canadian terroir teas in the tea room before perusing the ceramics handcrafted by one of the owners in the gallery.

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Experience local scents at Wild Coast Perfumery

Tucked away in the quaint maritime village of Cowichan Bay, you’ll find a truly unique shop; Wild Coast Perfumery is one of Cowichan’s most iconic artisan makers. At the shop, explore several location-inspired and natural scents, each created in full on site, from hand-blending to bottling. Wild Coast’s products are also free from synthetics, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance oils, dues, parabens, phthalates and chemicals.

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Taste the corners of Cowichan at Chocolate Pearl

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. Among the storefronts on Craig Street, is Chocolate Pear — a locally-owned and operated chocolaterie where on most days, you’ll find the owners themselves behind the counter. Here, experience all corners of Cowichan, with chocolates made using locally produced goods; tea, beer, wine… even lavender at the right time of year.

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Experience art and beautiful surroundings at Ladysmith Art Gallery

Ladysmith is known for many things, and among them is a stop you simply can’t miss. The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery is beautifully situated in Ladysmith’s marina, in an old logging and railway machine shop overlooking Oyster Bay. Visit the gallery to see local artists at work, explore themed exhibitions and shop for handmade gifts.

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Satisfy your appetite (locally) at Carmanah Pizza

Stopping for lunch is a necessity, and what better place to do that than on the shores of Lake Cowichan. Not too far from its namesake, the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, Carmanah Pizza is a locally-owned pizza joint that takes pride in handmade dough and sauces. Any ingredients they can’t make themselves are sourced from other parts of Cowichan — a true, local experience that can’t be missed!

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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.

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Immerse yourself in art and history at Shawnigan Lake Museum

In the southern part of Cowichan, Shawnigan Lake has a long and fascinating history. View the renowned EJ Hughes gallery, whose paintings include several views of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Before you visit the Kinsol Trestle, one of the tallest free standing trestles in the world, first learn about its history and restoration through 3-foot and 10-foot scale models in the museum.

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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, is prepared by three different wineries in Cowichan: Averill Creek Vineyard, Unsworth Vineyards, and Enrico Winery. A glass of this fruit-forward, bubbly wine is the perfect way to round out your Cowichan experience.

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Get out on the water on Cowichan’s coastline

Flanked by ocean on the east side, Cowichan has no shortage of on-the-water experiences. Launch kayaks in Ladysmith or Cowichan Bay, or set out on an expedition on a classic wooden schooner with Outer Shores Expeditions.

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Sip local spirits at Stillhead Distillery

In an industrial area in Duncan, you’ll find a distillery with a unique twist. Stillhead’s spirits use only fruits and grains grown in the province, and are fermented and distilled by hand in small batches. Visit the distillery to taste-test spirits through their small but impactful cocktail menu, including their wild blackberry gin and vodka, London dry gin among other seasonal releases.

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Forage and dine at Deerholme Farm

No trip to Cowichan is complete without dining on locally grown food, or even better, a meal you’ve foraged yourself. At Deerholme Farm, join a farm dinner or a cooking class (with grilling and salmon cooking classes available over the summer) with the renowned chef and cookbook author, Bill Jones. If your trip is planning for fall, Bill offers mushroom foraging workshops October through November.

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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.

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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.

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