Vancouver Island

Saint Patrick's Day

Where to Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Qualicum Beach

Looking to vacation on Vancouver Island? Want to travel BC or enjoy a staycation near the coast? Qualicum Beach or Parksville could be the perfect location for you. With Saint Patrick’s Day around the corner, why not start planning a fun getaway?

Saint Patrick’s Day has long held a reputation for being an excuse to drink and party. Across the Strait of Georgia, you’ll find people doing just that in the heart of downtown Vancouver and neighbouring municipalities. But Vancouver Island moves at a different pace and we think you’ll appreciate doing things our way.

We welcome you to enjoy St. Paddy’s Day our way!

  1. Catch Some Live Music

Better yet, make it live Celtic music or other Irish-inspired tunes. There’s always a musical show or two going on but Vancouver Island has a small claim to fame in the Celtic music circle. Celtic Chaos—a traditional Celtic band that includes fiddle, Irish wooden flute, a pennywhistle, and more—calls Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo their home. You can also look out for other performers, for example, Will Millar (ex-frontman of The Irish Rovers) has been known to play shows on the Island (he did in 2019)!

  1. Make Your Own Green Beer

Breakaway Vacation rentals each have a full-sized kitchen for you to enjoy—so why not use it? Stay in and make your own festive green beer. There are several ways to do this so you can pick the one you like best. Using a light-coloured brew will yield the best results. You can use green food colouring, 4-6 drops should do. There are other ways to achieve a similar effect, like using a green beerzicle in a clear glass bottle or, if you’re brave, try making it using matcha powder!

  1. Watch The Irishman (or another Irish-themed movie)

Been meaning to watch the much-buzzed-about Martin Scorsese movie, The Irishman? Why not dive in on the day meant for celebrating Irish culture? Okay, okay, The Irishman isn’t exactly the pinnacle “Irish movie” (it was filmed in the New York area) but it’s definitely a title on everybody’s lips these days since it’s Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Looking for something more traditionally Irish? Try The Hole in the Ground by Lee Cronin or Float Like a Butterfly by Carmel Winters.

  1. Grab a Beer at LoveShack Libations

Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and by appointment, LoveShack Libations is a must-visit venue for beer drinkers near and far. This microbrewery and pub is a local treasure and the owners have a genuine love of all things beer. They have served Irish beer in the past, like their Who’s Your Paddy Irish red ale, but you should always call ahead to see what they have going on before you set out. Green beer or no green beer, this charming little pub is a must-see on St. Paddy’s Day and beyond.

What are your favourite things to do for St. Paddy’s Day?


10 Best Hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park

Strathcona Provincial Park is one of British Columbia’s hidden gems – a vast wilderness in the heart of Vancouver Island, teeming with unusual wildlife and impressive mountain landscapes. This 250,000-hectare park is a hiker’s paradise, with plenty of beautiful trails over magnificent terrain, passing by wildflower meadows, craggy ridges, and serene lakes.

The hiking trails in Strathcona Provincial Park are concentrated around Buttle Lake and the Forbidden Plateau, and here you’ll find dozens of bucket list hikes. Outside these areas, the wilderness of the park beckons, making it the perfect destination for adventurous hikers. Strathcona Provincial Park is one of the best places to go get lost on Vancouver Island, and we’d highly recommend it as a hiking destination!

To give you a little inspiration, we’ve put together a list of the top ten best hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park. These epic trails are just waiting to be explored, so grab your hiking boots and get out on the trails today!

Flower Ridge Trail

This iconic Strathcona hike certainly lives up to its name, passing along a high ridge littered with delicate alpine flowers. The trail rises steeply before emerging out onto the ridge, where you’ll enjoy a fabulous panorama of Mounts Septimus and Rousseau, Cream Lake, and the picturesque Nine Peaks. In the right season you’ll find some glorious flora alongside the trail, including bright pink mountain heather. This is one of the best hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park, and will leave you with wonderful memories.

Mount Albert Edward

Perched at the edge of the Forbidden Plateau, Mount Albert Edward’s distinctive peak dominates the Mount Washington Ski Resort. This is a popular area of the park for both skiing and hiking, and this hike is one of the most satisfying and impressive routes in the region. The trail passes through dense, atmospheric forests, past the beautiful Whiskey Meadows, and finally emerges, after a steep climb, at the summit of Mount Albert Edward. The views here are incomparable, and a welcome reward after the efforts of the hike!

Lady Falls

Strathcona Provincial Park is known for its lovely waterfalls, and this route to Lady Falls showcases one of the finest. The falls lie deep in the enigmatic forests of the Cervus Creek Valley, and the trail to the viewing platform is simply magical. The cliff walls surrounding the falls are covered in fragrant moss, and the mists that rise from the waters sometimes create beautiful rainbows. This is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park.

Bedwell Lake Hike

The hike up to Bedwell Lake will take you along one of the most accessible trails in Strathcona Provincial Park, with plenty of bridges, staircases and boardwalks to help you to navigate the park’s terrain. The views from the trail are simply spectacular, with a vista that includes Big Interior Mountain and its enormous glacier. Baby Bedwell, the small lagoon at the start of the lake, is an excellent spot for swimming, and you may well feel like a dip after the steep climb!

Elk River Trail

The Elk River trail traces the path of the river all the way to Landslide Lake, and is one of the most popular treks in Strathcona Provincial Park. The route passes through a beautiful landscape filled with tall trees, all the way up to Landslide Lake. The views from the top are incredible, with a fantastic view of Mount Colonel Forster and the southern side of Elkhorn Mountain.

Mount Becher

Looking for a fun half-day hike in Strathcona Provincial Park? The hike up Mount Becher offers incredible views over to the Comox Glacier and Mount Albert Edward, from the top of the easternmost peak in the park. The trail rises gently, passing tranquil ponds and meadows filled with flowers, until you ascend above the tree line to enjoy a fabulous panorama over the nearby mountains. This is one of the best hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park.

Mount Myra

One of the classic Vancouver Island hikes, Mount Myra is one of the most famous hiking peaks in Strathcona Provincial Park. Passing by tranquil lakes, flower-strewn alpine meadows and rocky gullies, this trail is deservedly popular among local residents of Vancouver Island, and makes for a very satisfying day out. The views from the summit of Mount Myra are spectacular, taking in the Golden Hinde, Mount Tom Taylor, and several impressive glaciers.

Mount Helen MacKenzie

This short hike out to Lake Helen MacKenzie is an excellent family-friendly trail in Strathcona Provincial Park. The trail is well maintained, passing along boardwalks and gravel walkways, through atmospheric old growth forest. The beautiful lake offers many wonderful photo opportunities, with the tranquil waters reflecting the snow-capped peaks that surround it.

Upper Myra Falls

The Upper Myra Falls tumble 23 meters down a lush cavern into a deep blue basin, making this one of the most magical sights in Strathcona Provincial Park. This easy, family-friendly route switchbacks through a gentle hillside, passing by old growth forest and mossy underbrush. Come in spring when then falls are at their finest, and admire the spectacular sight from the specially made viewing platform.

Augerpoint Beach

Augerpoint Beach sits on the bank of the magnificent Buttle Lake, at the point where the Phillips Creeks meets the water. The views over the lake itself are truly magnificent, with the towering peak of Mount Myra looming large over the beach. This is a great place for a family walk and a swim, and in summer there are plenty of watersports and activities available on the lake. This is one of the best easy hikes in Strathcona, and a wonderful way to enjoy the park’s wonderful scenery.

-By guest writer Lukas Saville

If you are planning a hiking trip to Vancouver Island be sure to check out our fully equipped rental properties! Book online, or contact us to reserve!

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.

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

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


Cycling on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a popular destination for cyclists to explore by bike, and with good reason! With a huge variety of trails long & short, through terrain as varied as mountain trails, sea-side rides, or gentle slow-cycle routes there is truly a path for everyone!


The Parksville-Qualicum Beach Links is a 13-kilometer low-traffic road route that connects the City and Town via French Creek. It’s an accessible route and you can’t miss the road signs!

Or if you want a quick ride in Parksville, you can have a 3.56km Bike Ride to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. For more routes, there is a variation of it here: 


To enjoy the vineyards by bike just follow the Wine Route markers in the Cowichan Valley. Country roads meander through the valley and past several Vineyards and Cideries, always popular way stations! Please click on the map for more detailed information.




Are you interested in visiting Vancouver Island? Please visit our site to see our great selection of cottages at Tanglewood Beach Homes and Qualicum Landing or call us at 1.877.778.6466.


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

killer whale

Whale Watching on Vancouver Island


One of the most exciting Vancouver Island activities is whale watching. Whale watching season is very popular and tourists come from far and wide to see these magnificent creatures up close. The most common whales we can see around Vancouver Island are Orca (Killer) whales, Humpback Whales and Pacific Gray Whales. 

humpback whale

Orca (killer) whales              

The Orca (killer) whale is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. They have no natural predators and there are approximately 300 northern and southern residents and 225 transients in B.C./Washington waters. Researchers from around the world have been coming to Vancouver Island to study the Orca (Killer) whales for few decades and Orca whales in this region have become the best studied whales in the world. These whales are quite used to boats and will often let the whale watching boats come in for a closer look.

Humpback Whales               

The largest whales around Vancouver Island, the Humpback whales vary between 12-16 meters (39-52 ft). Humpback whales are equipped with a baleen which resembles thick strands of long hair which acts as a strainer to filter out plankton, krill, herring and other small fish. Humpback whales spend the summer months feeding as far north as Alaska, however there is always a good population around Vancouver Island.

Gray Whales

About 200 (resident) Gray Whales will stay and feed along the coast of Vancouver Island. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin.

The Best Timing…

The best viewing time is from May to October. Gray Whales migrate north along the west coast of Vancouver Island during March and April. You can view the whales by boat, or from mounted telescopes in the Long Beach area.

Where to spot them…

Orcas can often be spotted around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. Humpback whales and Minke whales may also be seen as in this area, as well as porpoises. During the summer months the local “pods” are in the area most days so if you happen to be in the right location you may see a fantastic show. 


Interested in Vancouver Island? Check out our selection of cottages at Tanglewood Beach Homes and Qualicum Landing –  AND have the perfect stay on Vancouver Island!

killer whale

Here are some local whale watching companies close to us!

Ocean Ecoventures

Sidney Whale Watching

Vancouver Island Whale Watch


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island MusicFest 2019

July 12-14

On Vancouver Island, there are lots of fun events. One of the most exciting summer events is the Vancouver MusicFest, which has been bringing great music to the Island for 25 years. It is produced by the Comox Valley Folk Society, is not-for-profit, and is a largely volunteer driven event. They offer over 200 musical performers on 6 fully programmed stages as well as instructional workshops, yoga sessions, an interactive kidzzone, art displays, a beer and cider tent, top-notch food and craft vendors, on-site camping and a magical riverside venue at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

As the venue is situated on a pastoral acreage bordering the forested banks of the Tsolum River, camping here will be a great experience for festival goers and gentle jammers. For more information about camping, please check the link




One of the magical components of Vancouver Island Music Fest is their spectacular site and the distinct settings for performance areas. Each stage has its own personality and as you move from stage to stage, you feel as though you have entered a new venue. The stages are The Concert Bowl Stage, The Grierson Stage, The Grassy Knoll, The Woodland Stage, The Barn, and The Crossroads. 


Friendly to Every Person

To welcome a diverse audience, the Vancouver Island MusicFest family has initiated an important festival and community building project. There are newly made wheelchair access routes to shaded areas and audience members with accessibility challenges who require a care attendant on site are invited to take part in a new “Access Program”. Care attendants (1 per person) will be admitted free of charge at the main festival gate the weekend of the festival. 

Children can also have fun at Vancouver MusicFest. At kizzone, there are supervised craft activities all weekend long, stilt walking, costumes, sprinklers, music, art projects, juggling, story telling, face painting and a kids parade. Interactive workshops are open to kids and their caregivers. Schedules for workshops and performances are detailed in the event program. The Kidzzone runs 10:00 am until 6:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. 


Living Green


To lessen the significant environmental impact, Vancouver MusicFest has been developing programs such as Fair trade, composting, recycling, total plastic free policies, using bio-degradable alternatives and interactive eco-education activities.

In 2009 Outside Magazine recognized Vancouver Island MusicFest as one of the Top 25 outdoor festivals in North America with a special mention of our Living Green Programs. In partnership with organizations including World Community, Tsolum River Restoration Society, BC Creek Protection Society, Comox Valley Regional District, CUPE, Comox Valley Project Watershed, Living Oceans Society and others, Vancouver Island MusicFest is forging partnerships that will help to ensure a sustainable festival in years to come.


Interested in Vancouver Island MusicFest? Why not extend your trip and stay in one of our Vacation Rental Homes?  Contact our Reservation Team at 1-877-778-6466 or email to find out more.


Written by Natsumi Matsumoto


Note: Images used in this blog post are from the Vancouver Island MusicFest website.