Winter Sports

3 Places for Winter Sports on Vancouver Island

Mountain landscapes are idyllic in the wintertime—glittering, powdery snow lining elegant slopes; rays of bright sunshine peeking through the clouds; sentinel-like fir trees topped in fluffy white caps. The perfect way to take all of this in is skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing across kilometers of fresh, fantastic trails.

Is there skiing and snowboarding on Vancouver Island? You bet! Sure, there is more variety on the mainland but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the local haunts on the Island. Luckily, our vacation properties in Qualicum Beach and Parksville are a few hours’ drive from some of the best winter sports hubs on the Island.

  1. Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is the only ski hill on Vancouver Island with maintained trails, hence it’s rabid popularity. The resort is open for outdoor activity year-round but wintertime is obviously the hit season. As soon as snowfall lands, guests will be privy to 1,700 acres and 505 vertical metres of alpine terrain, 55kms of cross-country skiing and 25kms of snowshoeing trails along with a dedicated Nordic lodge, Tube Park, and Fat Bike trails.

  1. Mount Cain

Mount Cain is Vancouver Island’s only 100% Canadian owned and operated ski resort, which makes it stand out for that reason alone. Mount Cain opens in early December (snow permitting) and closes early April, conditions permitting with an average snowfall of 1500cm/30f annually. They offer both groomed and ungroomed territory with varying levels of difficulty. Mt. Cain is located near Schoen Lake provincial park and is run by the Mt. Cain Alpine Park Society.

  1. JumpCamp

JumpCamp is a registered non-profit organization with youth programs and opportunities and partnerships with other like-minded companies who support community initiatives. JumpCamp is a snowboard camp with a mix of natural terrain and man-made terrain park, along with various sizes and shapes of jumps and rails. The camp is located one hour north of Nanaimo on the Island Highway 19.

Skiing Safety and Tips:

  • Build your endurance with light cardio before you hit the hill
  • Go slow at first and keep your knees bent
  • Make sure you have proper equipment, rental or owned
  • Take a lesson, even just for a day, if this is your first time on a hill
  • Dress in layers so that you can accommodate changing temperatures
  • Wear sun protection, reflection off the snow can cause tanning and burns
  • Use eye protection always
  • Dress in water and wind-resistant material

What are you waiting for? Let’s hit the hills!

Don’t hesitate to check out the many winter sports opportunities during your stay on Vancouver Island. Canadian winters may be chilly but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a ton of fun. Check out our rental properties and start planning your winter getaway today!



Family Day

Family Day Activities Near Parksville & Qualicum Beach

You’ll be thrilled to know that there is much to do if you are spending Family Day in a cozy Breakaway Vacations rental. The Qualicum Beach area is tranquil and unbusy, so you won’t have to fight the noise or crowds. Here are a few activities you can count on in the Parksville Qualicum Beach this Family Day long weekend:

  1. Tour the Old School House

This Classical Revival style home was built in 1914 and was designed by Allan Waters for the British Columbia Department of Public Works. The Old School House (TOSH) was officially re-opened in 1988 as an arts centre after considerable community-based fundraising and restoration work. Now, visitors can walk through the property to get a taste of history, arts, and community.

  1. Catch a Show at ECHO Players Village Theatre

This charming little theatre was originally built as a movie house but now exclusively hosts live plays and shows. The theatre has been an entertainment venue within the community for over 60 years. This February, you can catch The Secret Garden playing – a perfect show for kids and adults alike. You can buy tickets on their website or just browse what they have to offer (sometimes they have educational workshops, too).

  1. Visit the Milner Gardens for Tea

The Milner Gardens welcomes guests to browse the tea room, plant sales, and gift shop for a small admission fee (children 12 and under are free). You can take part in a guided tour as a group to learn about the property and its history. Stop by The Camellia Tea Room for a cheap drink and dessert. They accept walk-ins but reservations are required for their Full Afternoon High Tea and large groups.

  1. Take a Hike or Walk on a Park Trail

There are many trails to choose from in the area, which boasts over 280 hectares of Town-owned parks and greenspace and 14 kilometres of maintained trails. You can wander Qualicum Beach Heritage Forest, Park Ridge – Laburnum Connector, Qualicum Beach Community Park, and Grandon Creek, to name a few. Walking with young ones? Make it fun by putting together a scavenger hunt of natural items.

  1. See the Sights at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

A bit adventure sightseeing, a bit educational experience – Horne Lake Caves offer year-round guided cave tours where you’ll see breathtaking rock formations and twisting stone passageways. They have different levels of difficulty for different age groups so you can tailor the experience to your family. You can spend anywhere from 45 minutes to multiple hours on the tour, depending on the level you pick.

Feel like staying in instead? Try these!

  • Have a movie night on the large flat-screen TV
  • Play pool at the resort Club House
  • Do some baking in one of our full kitchens
  • Take turns reading books aloud by the stone fireplace
  • Play a board game, cards, or charades

Not sure where to start planning your vacation in at Qualicum Beach? Stop by their Visitor Centre for more recommendations and expert advice.

Baking with the kids

Whether you are vacationing together or just enjoying some downtime at home, baking with the kids is a great family activity. It’s easy, fun, and the end result is having a bunch of sweet treats to share. These recipes are so easy that all ages can participate, so it’s great family time fun.

  1. Microwave Fudge

All the tools you need for this one is an 8X8 glass pan, a microwave-safe bowl, and a microwave. Melt the chocolate chips into the condensed milk and butter in the microwave in a bowl. Cook them for 2-3 minutes, checking every minute and stirring as needed. Add vanilla and salt. Stir well. Then pour into the pan and chill for 2-3 hours. Bonus fun: The kids can lick the bowl clean because there are no raw eggs in this recipe!

Full recipe: Microwave fudge by SheKnows

  1. Eggo S’mores

For a fun twist on a classic, use mini Eggo waffles instead of graham crackers when making s’mores. If you can’t find mini waffles, you can get regular toaster waffles and cut them into 4 pieces. You can also try flavored waffles, like cinnamon sugar or blueberry, for some added flavor. Melt marshmallow and chocolate between two mini waffles and then brush the waffle tops with melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Full recipe: Eggo S’mores by Delish

  1. Easy Cornflake Tart

For these, you can make your own tart shells or buy them pre-made. If you decide to make the pastry from scratch, you will need 320g of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry. Melt butter in a pan with syrup, sugar and a pinch of salt. Fold the Cornflakes into this mixture. Put jam in the tart shells and then fill with the Cornflakes mixture. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool and serve with custard. Baking with the kids has never been so simple!

Full recipe: Easy Cornflakes Tarts by BBC Good Food

  1. Slow Cooker Gooey Brownie Cake

We recommend that all of our guests pack a slow cooker. A single kitchen item can be used for all sorts of meals  and even desserts. This slow cooker brownie cake is a perfect set-it-and-forget-it treat. Line the slow cooker with foil and butter the foil. Whisk together melted butter, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Fold in some chocolate chunks. Pour the mixture into the cooker and leave it on low for 3 hours.

Full recipe: Slow Cooker Gooey Brownie Cake by Food Network

  1. Easy Gluten-Free Shortcake

Here is an easy gluten-free baking idea for those who have food sensitives or anyone who might be health conscious. Preheat the oven to 450. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. Beat cream and eggs together in a different bowl. Then, mix the wet and dry bowls together. Make 1 1/2-ounce balls, place them on a baking sheet, and flatten each. Brush the raw cookies with cream and dust with some coarse white sparkling sugar. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes.

Full recipe: Easy Gluten-Free Shortcake by King Arthur Flour

Baking with the kids while on vacation is a perfect leisure family activity, especially when the recipes are this easy. Put aside a day of a long weekend just for baking and try out one or two of these tasty treats. Then you’ll have snacks to pack with you for the rest of your trip.

If you are looking for other easy family meals check out these Slowcooker Recipes that are great for easy cottage cooking!


5 Winter Activities to Try on Pender Island

North and South Pender Island are rich with activities, even when covered in snow. Pender Island is a small town community (think: only one gas station and nothing is open 24/7) so you might not be able to count on the usual city amenities to keep you entertained. That makes the island a great place to disconnect and experience nature. Here are just a few ways travelers can do that:

  1. Hike Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Weather conditions permitting, there is plenty to see and do in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The Reserve hosts the only Mediterranean-type climate in Canada, meaning that winters tend to be mild and wet. Gulf Island National Park is made up of 15 islands and over 30 islets and the area is home to Garry oaks, wild lilies, kelp beds, and Orca whales. You can access the different islands by BC Ferry, private boat, water taxi, or kayak.

  1. Birdwatch Near Your Cabin or at a Park

You might fall asleep to the occasional hoot of an owl during your stay on Pender Island. Many feathered friends roam about in the daytime, too. You may see grebes, murrelets, auklets, loons, hooded mergansers, thrushes, red-breasted nuthatches, and rufous-sided towhees. Be sure to pack a pair of binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to make the most out of the experience.

  1. Share a Treat at Vanilla Bakery Cafe

Driftwood Shopping Centre is the Island’s quaint answer to a “mall.” The boutiques are small, family-run, and filled with souvenirs bursting with character. Within the shopping centre, you’ll find Vanilla Bakery Cafe, which is the perfect rest stop on a chilly, wet winter day. You’ll be treated to a variety of baked goods for sale, as well as both warm and cold drink options. On the Island for an event? They cater too!

  1. Tour Vern Simpson Fine Art Studio

Have you heard of the famous Gassy Jack statue located in Vancouver’s hip Gastown area? Vern Simpson is the artist who designed and built it for the city. His studio is located on the Island and is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also call to make an appointment if those times don’t work for you. Stop by and you’ll be treated to a galley of his work.

  1. Pender Island Lantern Festival

Visiting Pender Island over New Years? Prepare to be awe-struck if you can catch the annual Pender Island Lantern Festival during your stay. First hosted in 1999, the festival takes place by Magic Lake and tends to start around 4:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. The Three on the Tree Production Society puts on a multimedia event with paper lanterns, stilt walkers, shadow play, giant puppetry, fire spinning, and a kayak ballet.

Wondering What To Do On Pender Island in the Winter?

Now you know! Just because it’s chilly and damp, doesn’t mean the islands aren’t still full of life and activity. Let Breakaway Vacations help you plan your winter wonderland trip today.


4 Easy Slowcooker Recipes for Wintertime Vacation Comfort

The last thing you want to do on any vacation is spend a ton of time cooking and cleaning. That’s why slowcookers are so perfect. They are an easy set-it-and-leave-it meal that only dirties a single pot. Plus, they can feed plenty of guests if you are hosting a family event.

For winter vacations, like a Christmas get-together or group ski trip, you are going to want most of your meals to be steaming hot. There’s nothing better than a warm bowl of stew on a beautiful snowy winter day. Here are a few easy slowcooker recipes that you can bring with you on your snowy wonderland travels.

  1. Loaded Sweet Potato by the Lean Green Bean

For this recipe, cut the potatoes in half and lay it on a piece of tinfoil. Then, load it with your favorite vegetable, grain, and meat toppings. Add cumin and grated cheese. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. When finished, you can add refrigerated toppings like tomatoes, avocado, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, et cetera, as desired.

Check out the full recipe here: Loaded Sweet Potato.

  1. Slowcooker Steel-Cut Oats by AllRecpies

To make quick and easy steel-cut oats in a slowcooker, just add 2 cups of water, 1 cup of milk, and 1 cup of steel-cut oats. Then, add fruit, butter, or spices as you see fit. This recipe suggests apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and a bit of salt. Cook it for 8 hours (so you will want to start it the evening before) and then you have a ready-to-go warm breakfast.

Check out the full recipe here: Slowcooker Steel-Cut Oats.

  1. Slowcooker Chicken Breast with Gravy by Dinner at the Zoo

Place 6 raw (not frozen) chicken breasts into the slowcooker. The broth is made with olive oil, chicken broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic. You then have the option to cook the meal on low for 4-5 hours or high to 2-3 hours. Once done, you can set the chicken aside and boil the broth with cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water for about a minute to make the gravy.

Check out the full recipe here: Slowcooker Chicken Breast.

  1. Hearty Pork Bean Soup by Taste of Home

This full recipe makes about 12 servings so you can half it if you are feeding less people. Soak the beans overnight and rinse them the next day. Then, layer the beans, vegetables, and pork into the slowcooker. Add seasonings, broth, and pale ale. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the pork, add the tomatoes, spinach, and salt, and then cook for another 20 minutes.

Check out the full recipe here: Hearty Pork Bean Soup.

Those are a few simple, fun, and delicious slowcooker recipes for you and your loved ones to enjoy this holiday season. They are perfect for any occasion and sure to bring some holiday cheer.

Check out our cozy cottages here, and don’t forget to pack your slowcooker!

Winter Cocktail

7 Easy DIY Winter Cocktail Recipes

‘Tis the season for oversized sweaters, plush slippers, fuzzy blankets, and cozy nights at home. Nothing can keep you warm while it snows quite like a hearty winter cocktail. These 7 cocktails are perfect for the cool weather season and super easy to make yourself at home.

  1. The Winter Bramble Cocktail

This wintry-themed cocktail features your choice of gin, Crème de mûre, lemon juice, blackberries to muddle and as garnish, and homemade Cinnamon and Star Anise Syrup that can be mixed in or drizzled on top. Vibrant, bold, and tart, this drink is perfect for warm evenings by the fireplace.

  1. Sex on a Snowbank

This 3-ingredient cocktail is super easy to whip up so long as you have a blender and some ice on hand. You only need Malibu Rum, cream of coconut, and some shredded coconut for the rim. This frothy, ivory drink just screams winter wonderland. Blend the ingredients together and serve in a martini glass for an uber-elegant look.

  1. Chocolatey Winter Cocktail

If you’re a fan of hot cocoa, you’ll love this next winter-themed cocktail. Notes of chocolate, nutmeg, and vanilla will remind you of your favorite wintery baked goods. It’s simple to make, too. Boil milk, half and half cream, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla extract in a saucer. Turn off the heat and add some cocoa powder. Add vodka.

  1. Winter Sangria

The best part of sangria is that slight modifications can make it perfect for any season. This winter variety has a flavor profile with cranberries, pomegranates, and cinnamon. Typically, sangria is made with red wine but there are white wine varieties, as well. Use fruits that pair well with the wine you are using and make sure it has time to sit and soak up the flavors.

  1. Winter Spiced Negroni

Made with Infused Navy Strength Gin, Campari, Antica Formula, and hot water – this wintertime cocktail is super easy to throw together. Make the infused Gin yourself with your choice of gin, 4 cloves, 2 star anise, 1 liquorice stick, and 1/2 tsp of allspice and let it sit for 24-hours. This spiced drink is rich and warm, perfect for the holidays.

  1. Winter Waltz

Winter Waltz is a twist on the Sazerac containing Angostura Bitter, Rye Whiskey, Amaro Averna, and All Spice Dram. Warm, golden, and savory, this is the perfect snow-day drink. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake vigorously until the shaker gets frosty. Strain into a lightly chilled martini glass and enjoy.

  1. Winter Ginger Recipe

Ginger, apple, and cinnamon are the perfect winter flavor trio. Spicey, sweet, and hearty, this cocktail is sure to keep you warm this snowy season. Start by simmering Ginger Liqueur, apple juice, and hard apple cider. Let the mixture cool before pouring into a brandy sniffer. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Voila.

Hopefully these special seasonal cocktails bring you warmth and comfort as the weather dips. Happy holidays and happy drinking.

eco friendly Vancouver Island

Eco-friendly clothing on Vancouver Island


Are you curious about fashion? How about clothes made with eco-friendly sustainable materials?

Many companies and shops in Vancouver Island create sustainable local clothes. Every shop has its own taste of fashion and motto for earth friendly garments.

       They use many sustainable fabrics and strive to have a positive relationship with everyone who works to create their line. Their designs are sewn in India and Thailand to support small family run production houses that provide ethical working conditions and fair wages to their employees.

Blue Sky Clothing is a fair trade, natural fiber, sustainable clothing company specializing in fashion for all sizes. Their clothing is created using exclusively natural fibers, including bamboo, cotton, wool, and modal sourced from beech trees.  Not only do these fabrics feel wonderful on the skin, but they are also less harmful to manufacture and create longer lasting clothing. As fair trade, bamboo fabric is sourced and sewn in China, and naturally sourced rayon is batiked and sewn in Bali. 

Their vision is a world where we are all able to consider the impact of our purchases. They create clothes by local designers. Their signature fabric is a hemp and organic cotton blend, custom dyed using low impact dyes and a 100% uptake process. Their own line of Hemp and Company Originals and Essentials is designed and manufactured entirely in Canada.

Salt & West was established in 2005 with a vision for creating quality clothing with fabrics like certified organic cotton, viscose from bamboo, hemp, soy and merino wool. Their fabrics have been tested to ensure that they have no traces of harmful chemicals. Salts Organic clothing is a community based project that delivers high quality employment opportunities to women. Salts clothing is available online or at Hemp & Company.

Smoking Lily use mostly bamboo, eucalyptus, dead stock (left over stock from larger companies) and vintage fabrics found on their travels. They use only nontoxic inks in their print room and work to be good stewards to the earth. Smoking Lily’s goal is to be a zero fabric waste company, to make use of every last piece of fabric they bring in. Their kids’ line is made entirely out of leftover parts from other projects, as are many of their accessories.


With the growing push towards a more sustainable future, these shops and others are helping locals and visitors live a less wasteful, more purposeful life! Please visit our site to see our beautiful accommodations for your next getaway! 


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

fishing gulf islands

Fishing on the Gulf Islands


The Gulf Islands consist of over a dozen islands in the Strait of Georgia, off the coast of British Columbia’s mainland. The landscape is characterized by dramatic coastlines, beautiful beaches, and a diversity of plants and animals.

As for fishing, the Southern Gulf Islands offer some great salmon fishing year round. May and June are exceptional months for Chinook which are migrating to their home waters at this time. During the summer months and early fall you can catch all species of Salmon. Sockeye, Coho, Pinks, Chinook and Chum all pass through these waters as they migrate to their spawning grounds. The area is also very good for ground fish such as Ling cod and rock fish.

You will need a fishing license to go fishing. You can purchase your non-tidal/freshwater fishing license online through the government of B.C.’s website. In addition, you have to get a special stamp or an additional permit to fish for salmon legally. This is important not only to the continued general health of the aquatic ecosystem, but also for stocking and conservation programs. For all fishing regulations please click here. Of course, you will also need basic fishing tools such as a fishing rod, reel, bait, hook, bobber, and rig!

Tips for Salmon Fishing

 Fishing sometimes depends on luck. Still, there are some tips to fish salmon effectively.

  • Sharpen your hooks

Salmon have a very thick jawline so make sure that hook is razor sharp to increase your chances of a catch.

  • Choose the best bait for salmon

The most successful type of live bait for salmon fishing is to use roe (eggs). You can also use Flashtrap spinners, which is an artificial lure very effective to fish salmon.

  • Use a flashy item

Make sure your bait has something flashy attached to it to attract the fish. Salmon prefer low lighting conditions, so something that flashes will attract them in deeper, darker waters.

  • Use a red line

Certain colors disappear completely at deeper depths and the very first color that disappears is red. Your bait will appear more life-like if you use red line.

  • Fish in the clouds

Since salmon do prefer low lighting, overcast days are the perfect days to fish. If it is not overcast, dawn and dusk are optimal times, too. Try to avoid bright, sunny days, as the visibility of the salmon will be greater.


As long as you know these tips, you can have fun fishing on the Gulf Islands. Haven’t booked your accommodation yet?  Take a look at our Gulf Islands vacation homes and have a wonderful visit with us!


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

Vancouver Island

Facts about Vancouver Island

If you are planning to visit, or are already on, Vancouver Island, here are some fun facts to make your stay more interesting and knowledgeable.

Fast Facts

  • Vancouver Island is in the North-Eastern Part of the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Canada.
  • It is part of the Canadian province of British Columbia. 
  • It has been the homeland to many indigenous peoples for thousands of years. 
  • Vancouver Island is the world’s 43rd largest island, Canada’s 11th largest island.
  • Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, the Island’s largest city.
  • It has the world’s largest hockey stick in Duncan.
  • It has the world’s largest totem pole in Victoria, B.C.
  • The Island has an average coldest temperature of -2 degrees Celsius in the winter and an average high of 23 degrees Celsius in the summer. It is considered to have the mildest climate in Canada.
  • Vancouver Island is 3x bigger than the island of Hawaii, 3x smaller than Ireland.

How was the island formed?

The island was formed through a combination of processes, including tectonic plate movement, volcanism, erosion and glaciation. In terms of tectonic plate movement, the island is mostly made up of volcanic and sedimentary rock which was formed offshore on the now disappeared Kula oceanic plate. Around 55 million years ago, a microplate of the Kula Plate subducted below the North American continental margin with great strain. 

The mountains in Vancouver Island have produced a rain shadow so that the west of the island receives more annual rainfall than the east of the Island. The climate is generally mild and despite variations in rainfall this has led to it being a natural temperate forest biome. Along with many fast-flowing rivers these physical factors combine to make the island a fantastic location to explore the natural wonders that these rich ecosystems have to offer. 

Vancouver Island

Interested in Vancouver Island? We have a great selection of accommodations! Check out our Tanglewood Beach Homes & Qualicum Landing Vacation Rentals and contact or call 1-877-778-6466!


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

sand sculpture

The Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition


July 12:  2pm – 9pm

July 13 & 14:  9am – 9pm


July 15 – August 18

Open 9am – 9pm daily


What are you going to do this summer? If you are interested in art, you will be fascinated by these professional sand sculptures!

The Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition is a world class event for Master Sand Sculptors and is an official qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting. These Master Sculptors travel from all corners of the globe to participate in our remarkable competition and exhibition in Parksville. You can watch the sculptures “under construction” beginning Friday, July 12 at 2 pm. Judging will take place on Sunday from 3-5 pm and the winners will be announced Sunday at approximately 5:30 pm. The gated exhibition will remain open to the public until Sunday, August 18th, from 9am-9pm daily. Voting for the ever popular “People’s Choice Award” begins after judging has been completed.

Be sure to bring your camera to this amazing event because once the exhibition is over the sculptures are gone forever.  You and your family are sure to be inspired to create a little sandcastle magic of your own after viewing the sand sculptures – so bring your own buckets and shovels! 

Here are some photos to show the previous winners of this prestigious competition.

Each soloist has a 12×15 foot plot and gets 10 yards of sand while doubles get a 20×20 foot plot and 15 yards of sand. ALL the sand must be utilized in the creation of their artwork. They have 30 pre-set hours over 4 days to create their masterpieces.

Looking at these masterpieces you might wonder how they stay together!  Essentially they are just made from sand and water. However to withstand wind and rain, they are sprayed with a diluted mixture of environmentally-friendly white glue (like the glue kids use at school) and water only AFTER the sculptures are completed. In the first place, the sculptures must be constructed properly – lots of packing and pounding to make them strong!

Want to see the sculptures for yourself?  Book a stay near Parksville and you can do just that!

Check out our accommodation options – then call us on 1.877.778.6466 or email to book your perfect visit to Vancouver Island.


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto