The Comox Valley is a creative place. More than 1,000 artists have chosen to make it their home. Painters, sculptors, potters, jewellers, paper designers and fiber, wood, graphic and media artists can be found at work in their studios. You can also admire their pieces on display at local galleries, annual events or at the Crafter’s Market in Courtenay.
The Comox Valley Art Galleryis a regional public art gallery exhibiting emergent contemporary art. Special events like the Toronto International Film Festival film series bring the big city to the Comox Valley.
BC’s premier fossil destination is at the Courtenay and District Museum & Paleontology Centre. Known for its marine fossils, the museum’s collections allows visitors to travel as far back as 80 million years ago and explore the valley’s palaeontology and cultural history.
While the 100-mile diet has become popular to many locavores, the Comox Valley boasts the 50-kilometre diet. With high quality dairy producers, berry farms, meat producers, fishermen, wineries, beekeepers, bakers and vegetable farms, eating in the Comox Valley is a treat.
Many restaurants within walking distance of the boardwalk in Comox or the Riverway in Courtenay celebrate their abundant surroundings serving up local organic blueberries, island-raised bison and edible flowers. One restaurant in particular, aptly named Locals, is not to be missed for its fresh land and sea features.
Award-winning wineries are giving the Okanagan a run for their money. Take a Comox Valley wine tourto visit and sample the goods from some of BC’s award winning wineries.
Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery grows its own grapes, and uses grapes from the Okanagan and Saanich to produce about 1,800 cases of wine each year. While tasting, take in beautiful views of the Beaufort Mountains.
Blue Moon Wineryis located on Natures Way Farm, an organic farm, and specializes in 100% organic, small batch, fruit wine. On the property is Blue Moon Kitchen, an intimate venue for a special events focused on food, art or agriculture.
Coastal Black Estate Winery, at the base of Mount Washington, specializes in fruit wines and mead. Their tasting room is open seven days a week and their Patio Bistro is open for lunch everyday and dinner on Wednesdays.
40 Knots Estate Winery and Vineyardoffers a tasting room ready to sample you their award winning pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, rose and sparkling brut. Also available are picnic baskets, boxed sets of wine and gifts.
On the Water
The Comox Valley is a water lover's paradise. Relaxing days spent on ocean beaches or lakeside invite long walks beachcombing for shells and fossils. Dive into crystal clear salt or fresh water for a swim or a snorkle. Popular swimming spots in the Comox Valley include Stotan Falls on the Puntledge River, Comox Lake, Saratoga Beach, Goose Spit, Miracle Beach, Nymph Falls, Trent River and Tribune Bay on beautiful Hornby Island.
Sea kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboard rentalsprovide access to hours of fun discovering hidden beaches, bald eagles and marine life.
Fisherman’s Wharf in Comox hints at the fact that some of the richest fishing found on Canada’s West Coast is close by. Depending on the season, fresh salmon, halibut, Dungeness crab and spot prawns are available for sale directly from the fishermen on their boats.
But this is also the perfect place to try fishing yourself. Hire a fishing charter or cast a line from shore and catch a trophy-sized spring, chinook or coho salmon. Fresh water rivers are full of sea, cutthroat and steelhead trout. Delicious!
In the Mountains
While Whistler-Blackcomb steals all the attention on the mainland, just 25 kms from the Comox Valley, Mount Washington Ski Resort boasts some of the biggest and best snowfalls around. Snowboarders, downhill and nordic skiers come to enjoy powder-filled days of alpine terrain from December to April. Come summertime, the chairlift transports visitors to the summit for breathtaking views and gives hikers a boost on a backcountry adventure.
And where there are mountains, there are mountain bikers. Strathcona Provincial Parkis home to Forbidden Plateau, a series of mountain bike and hiking trails with some of the most varied terrain. Hikers have a variety of day hikes to choose from, or can access multi-day hikes to Mount Becher, Mount Drabble, Indian Head Mountain and the Comox Glacier, all within the park's boundaries.
Tucked up on the central east coast of Vancouver Island is a region known for its spectacular mountains, glistening water views, succulent local food and wine, and thriving artisan culture. Here's how to get the most out of the Comox Valley
Surrounded by spectacular ocean views, ancient forests, towering mountains and abundant farmland, it’s easy to see why the First Nations named the Comox Valley "Komoux" or the "Land of Plenty." Home to Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland, the Comox Valley is the perfect place to explore the outdoors, enjoy food and wine, and discover arts and culture.
Getting there is easy. By car, the Comox Valley is just 1¼ hours north of Nanaimo, or 2½ hours north of Victoria. The Comox Valley Airport provides access to and from the rest of the country with ease, and BC Ferries provide access to northern gulf islands and the mainland.
Jenn Chic is a trained chef, photographer and food writer. Her stories and photographs have appeared in Swerve, Uppercase, Edible Toronto, Western Living, Condo & Vanmag online. Wherever she goes, the scent of fresh baking is close by.
Her cooking blog is http://www.jennchiccooks.com and photo blog is http://www.jennchic.com.