Category   Island Highway 19, Vancouver Island, BC
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Island Highway (19)

Entering the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island
The Island Highway (Highway 19) runs beside the open water of the Strait of Georgia, from Nanaimo in the south through the Comox Valley, north to Campbell River and terminates in the town of Port Hardy in North Vancouver Island.

As you drive the Island Highway, it's always a treat to look across the Strait of Georgia at landmarks on the mainland as the spires of the Coast Mountains rise on the eastern horizon.

One such scenic view is the profile of the Howe Sound Crest as revealed when you look back towards the city of Vancouver from Parksville. The farther north you head towards Courtenay and Campbell River, however, the more the peaks and glaciers of Vancouver Island's ranges, principally the imposing Comox Glacier, Forbidden Plateau, and Mount Washington, rise in the west and vie for equal attention.

As the highway winds past well-kept farms, this is a serenely rural part of the journey. Flowers abound in the gardens that front many of the homes along the way. Small rivers such as the Little Qualicum and the Englishman, as well as mightier ones such as the Puntledge and the Campbell, empty into the strait. From the highway you catch glimpses of quiet green forest settings on the banks that line each river's course. Come late summer, these streams teem with spawning salmon.

From Nanaimo north to Parksville, the eastern coastline of Vancouver Island softens considerably. There are no islands along this stretch to interrupt the views across the Strait of Georgia to the snow-covered peaks of the Coast Mountains as they rise above the Sunshine Coast.

Qualicum Beach, about 7.5 miles (12 km) north of Parksville beside Hwy 19A, gently spreads in front of one of the most pleasant small towns on east side of Vancouver Island. Pause here at any of the numerous beachside pullouts and smell the salt air intermingled with the perfume from the many private and public floral displays. From this point on, the pace of Vancouver Island slackens noticeably. Not that the southern portion is any more hurried, it's just that there are more people and more congestion. From here north, there is less traffic, and what habitation there is clings to a narrow coastal plain beside the ocean.

Offshore to the east of Parksville lies Lasqueti Island, the first of several northern Gulf Islands that you catch glimpses of as the Island Highway heads north towards Courtenay and Campbell River. Farther off in the distance is the dark profile of Texada Island. Other islands closer at hand are Denman and Hornby south of Courtenay, and Quadra across Discovery Passage from Campbell River.

For much of the way between Courtenay and Campbell River the Island Highway runs beside Qualicum Bay, an area rich in seafood. Pullouts beside the road give easy access to the bay's sand and pebble beaches. At several places you can buy fresh seafood, brought to the docks daily from local waters.Take your time as you meander through this laid-back region. Its rhythms are subtle, but with gentle probing they reveal themselves, showing greater complexity than first meets the eye.

The northern portion of Highway 19 runs from Campbell River to Port Hardy and Cape Scott, including access to Alert Bay, Telegraph Cove, Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park, and Cape Scott Provincial Park. As 97 percent of the population lives on the southern half of Vancouver Island, outdoor recreationists in search of solitude come north.

Much of Vancouver Island once looked as the north still does today. Thanks to recent government protection, some of the remaining wilderness, such as Brooks Peninsula, a stubby, 8.5-mile-long (14-km) projection on the northwest coast of the island, has been preserved. Other places, such as the most northerly tip of the island, are sheltered by the elements from the preying eye of industry. Cape Scott Provincial Park is one of the wildest, windiest, most woebegone locales in the province for human habitation. Journeying to either Brooks Peninsula or Cape Scott is only for those whose mettle has been tested by repeated exposure to the bellows and blast-furnace of nature in the raw.

Gentler conditions prevail in the sheltered waters of Johnstone Strait, where the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations are the traditional gatekeepers. To experience a tranquillity that passes all description, paddle these waters where whales rub and salmon run in summer months.

Location: The new Island Highway (Highway 19) has superseded the old Island highway (Highway 19A) as the way to move quickly between Nanaimo and Campbell River. Parksville, 23 miles (37 km) north of Nanaimo's Departure Bay ferry, lies just east of the new Island Highway. For those wishing to make time, the new four-lane route will be a blessing.

For those wishing to take their time, this will mean fewer cars tailgating along the scenic ocean drive. Highways 19 and 19A link Parksville with southern Vancouver Island. Highway 4 links Parksville with Port Alberni, and with Tofino and Ucluelet on the west side of Vancouver Island. Campbell River may also be reached by BC Ferries from Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island, a 10-minute ride.

Approaching from the north, Highway 19 links Campbell River with the northern half of Vancouver Island. The top half of 280-mile-long (450-km) Vancouver Island is served by a maze of logging roads and Highway 19 (North Island Highway), which links Campbell River with Port Hardy, the southern terminus of BC Ferries' Inside Passage and Discovery Coast routes. BC Ferries links the north and central coasts (Prince Rupert and Bella Coola, respectively) with Vancouver Island at Port Hardy.

The following towns are located on or near the Island Highway:
Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Deep Bay, Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay, Union Bay, Royston, Courtenay, Comox, Merville, Black Creek, Campbell River, Woss, Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy.

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  Singing Sands Bed & Breakfast, Comox Listing Details 
Singing Sands Bed and Breakfast offers friendly hospitality and comfortable ocean view accommodation in the beautiful Little River area of Comox, steps away from the beach. Two queen-sized rooms with en-suite bathrooms, guest entrances, TV, home baked breakfast, and full use of guest lounge and hot tub. Refrigerator and microwave available for guests' convenience should you wish to self-cater. A tranquil, relaxed stay is assured in this beautiful, quiet location. Discover the charm of Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley. Just 30 minutes drive to Mount Washington ski slopes.
  Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort, Parksville Listing Details 
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort is a year round destination in Parksville offering gorgeous west coast inspired vacation rentals and beachfront resort accommodation. The resort offers 65 fully furnished, fully equipped 1, 2 and 3 bedroom vacation homes boasting magnificent mountain and ocean views. Pamper yourself in our newly constructed seasonal outdoor heated pool, hot tub, and fitness facility. Our guest services and friendly approach will ensure that this resort experience is one you will want to repeat again and again. Reserve your Parksville vacation rental home today and discover why you may never want to leave Vancouver Island.
  Beach Acres Resort, Parksville Listing Details 
Bring your friends and family together to enjoy our seaside charm and tranquil forest setting. Stroll our vast sandy beach in search of treasures, enjoy our ocean and mountain views, or just stretch out and listen to the hush of the wind. Just the two of you? The perfect “kid-free” get-a-way awaits in a cozy little cottage……right on the beach.
  Black Bear Resort, Port McNeill Listing Details 
Black Bear Resort in the beautiful coastal community of Port McNeill is the newest property on Northern Vancouver Island, offering elegant accommodation on the fringe of a natural forest with beautiful ocean views. The stylish cedar resort boasts 40 tastefully decorated guestrooms each with stunning views of the protected harbour, Malcolm Island, and the coastal mountains of the BC mainland.
  Black Creek Bed and Breakfast, Black Creek Listing Details 
Nestled between the Ocean and the Mountains in the scenic Comox Valley, halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River, this rural setting offers privacy to unwind 2km from beautiful Saratoga Beach and close to Mount Washington. Offering a comfortable stay in two separate suites to cater for couples, family or groups.
  Campbell River Whale Watching, Campbell River Listing Details 
Campbell River Whale Watching invites you to experience some of the most spectacular Orca Killer whale watching and wildlife viewing in the world. You can take a Grizzly Tour, go Orca Whale Watching, see Bald Eagles, and experience the life of seals and sea lions on an adventure tour of a lifetime.
  Dent Island Lodge, Dent Island Listing Details 
Dent Island Lodge is a superb BC salmon fishing & vacation resort, yachting destination, marina and corporate retreat north of Campbell River, adjacent to Vancouver Island off the west coast British Columbia, Canada. Guided fishing charters, protected marina for yachts up to 140 feet, fine gourmet dining room, luxury lodgings.
  Discovery Marine Safaris, Campbell River Listing Details 
Travel along stunning shorelines and inlets in search of killer whales, black bears, pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, seals, and magnificent bald eagles. Our tour boats feature an enclosed and heated cabin, two outdoor viewing decks, and an onboard washroom. Enjoy a Romantic Sun Set Cruise, or embark on our Grizzly Bear Viewing Excursion and observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat far away from human civilization.
  Haida Way Hotel, Port McNeill Listing Details 
Haida Way Hotel is Port McNeill’s largest and most popular accommodation and hospitality complex. Located near Port McNeill downtown, the Haida Way is within walking distance of shopping, the harbour and the ferry terminal. We have 70 cozy guestrooms and suites, and our own full-service Northern Lights Restaurant, lively pub, liquor store, and banquet and meeting room. Featuring killer whale and grizzly bear watching tours, salmon and halibut fishing, and kayaking expeditions.
  Hidden Cove Lodge, Port McNeill Listing Details 
A west coast cedar lodge on northern Vancouver Island, 20 minutes from the boardwalk Village of Telegraph Cove, with 8 fully accommodated rooms, a licensed dining room, and 2 self-contained ocean view cottages for those seeking complete privacy. Kayak to Robson Bight to view killer whales, or watch black bear, deer and river otter from our patio.
  Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, Parksville Listing Details 
Nestled in the shadow of Mt. Arrowsmith, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks on Morningstar Farm produce a variety of world-class, award-winning cheese. Made from high quality milk from our own herd of dairy cows, we have an artisan cheese to suit any occasion, meal or light snack. Come and visit us at the farm - take a self-guided tour, sample the different cheeses, and explore the fruit wines made on location from our own MooBerry Winery. Open daily 9-5.
  MooBerry Winery, Parksville Listing Details 
MooBerry Winery is located on Morningstar Farm where we produce a wide variety of high-quality fruit wines. Winemaker Phil Charlebois invites you to come by for tastings and a self-guided tour. Located on a working dairy farm together with Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, there’s lots to do, see and taste! Open daily from 9am to 5pm.
  Morningstar Farm, Parksville Listing Details 
Morningstar Farm is a heritage dairy farm located between Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Central Vancouver Island. Home to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery, there is something to see, do and taste for everyone. Visit us and see how they make that yummy cheese, pet the farm animals, shop in our FarmGate store, try some cheese and wine samples, take a self-guided tour and stay for a picnic! Open daily 9am - 5pm.
  North Shore Inn, Port Hardy Listing Details 
North Shore Inn is located in downtown Port Hardy, at the northernmost end of Island Highway 19, two blocks from the bus terminal, a 7-minute drive from the Ferry Terminal (Prince Rupert/Inside Passage), and 10 minutes from the Airport. All rooms have an ocean view, and children under the age of 12 stay free when accompanied by adult. There's also a popular Japanese restaurant on the premises.
  Northern Lights Restaurant, Port McNeill Listing Details 
The Northern Lights Restaurant is known among Islanders as the nicest dining room with the very best food in all of Northern Vancouver Island. Starting from 7 am, 6 days a week with a hearty breakfast, through a delicious lunch to a relaxing dinner after a full day of work or sightseeing, you'll enjoy the ambiance of this unique dining experience. Our diners enjoy fresh, premium seafood from our local West Coast prepared with care and pride - all at affordable prices. Reservations are advised.
  Pioneer Inn & Riverside RV, Port Hardy Listing Details 
Closest accommodation to the ferry terminal. The quiet, park-like setting across from Quatse River offers suites, rooms, and large two room kitchen units. Services include free local calls, complimentary in-room coffee, cable TV, and licenced dining room. The 25 RV sites offer full hookups, hydro, water, sewer, and cable. A laundry and dry room are available.
  Salmon Point Resort RV Park & Marina, Campbell River Listing Details 
The Salmon Point Resort in Campbell River offers oceanfront cabins, serviced RV sites, a marina with boat launch and boat moorage, a pub and restaurant, camping, fishing, fishing charters, and whale watching. Salmon Point Resort is located between Campbell River and Courtenay, with spectacular views of Georgia Strait and the BC Coast Mountains.
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