Vancouver Island


As the leaves transform and the air takes on a crisp edge, there’s an undeniable charm in snuggling up with a comforting autumnal beverage. Be it the inviting allure of a spiced latte or the soothing essence of a hot apple cider, we’re here to inspire your journey through heartwarming fall concoctions.

1. Spiced Pumpkin Latte:

– Embodying the essence of fall, this quintessential spiced pumpkin latte is a must-try. Learn to craft this seasonal favorite in the comfort of your home, featuring velvety milk, aromatic spices, and an optional, lavish topping of whipped cream.

– Ingredients:
– 1 cup strong brewed coffee or 2 shots of espresso
– 1/2 cup milk (whole, 2%, or a dairy-free alternative)
– 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
– Whipped cream (optional)

– Instructions:
1. In a saucepan, heat the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice over medium heat. Whisk until well combined.
2. Pour the spiced milk mixture into a mug.
3. Add the brewed coffee or espresso to the mug and stir.
4. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice if desired.

2. Homemade Apple Cider:

– Experience the simple joys of preparing your very own apple cider using freshly picked apples.

– Ingredients:
– 10-12 apples (a mix of sweet and tart varieties)
– 1 orange, sliced
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 4-6 cloves
– 1/4 cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)

– Instructions:
1. Wash and chop the apples (no need to peel or core them).
2. Place the apples, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the fruit.
3. Simmer the mixture on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. Use a potato masher to crush the softened fruit in the pot.
5. Strain the cider into another pot or bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the juice.
6. Stir in brown sugar while the cider is still warm.
7. Serve the homemade apple cider hot or cold.

3. Chai Tea Latte:

– The blend of spices in a chai tea latte makes it an autumn staple. Dive into a creamy homemade version that promises warmth and comfort.

– Ingredients:
– 2 chai tea bags
– 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
– 1/2 cup water
– 2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
– Ground cinnamon (optional)

– Instructions:
1. In a small saucepan, heat the water and milk over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
2. Add the chai tea bags and let them steep for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the tea bags, then stir in honey and vanilla.
4. Pour the chai latte into a mug and sprinkle with ground cinnamon if desired.

4. Cinnamon Hot Chocolate:

– Immerse yourself in the warmth of a rich, cinnamon-infused hot chocolate—a perfect companion for those evenings by the fire.


– 2 cups milk (whole milk for creamier hot chocolate)
– 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
– 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
– A pinch of salt
– Whipped cream, marshmallows, and cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)


1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the milk, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, sugar, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk continuously until the chocolate chips and cocoa powder have fully dissolved and the mixture is hot but not boiling. This should take about 5-7 minutes.

3. Once the mixture is hot and well combined, remove it from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Taste the hot chocolate and adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar if needed.

5. Pour the cinnamon hot chocolate into mugs.

6. If desired, top each mug with a dollop of whipped cream, marshmallows, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

7. Serve hot and enjoy your cozy Cinnamon Hot Chocolate!

5. Mulled Wine:

– Embark on an autumnal journey for your taste buds with a steaming cup of mulled wine. Learn how to infuse red wine with a harmonious blend of spices and citrus for a spicy, warming treat—ideal for festive gatherings.

6. Spiked Hot Apple Cider:

– For those seeking an extra touch of warmth, we’ve given a twist to traditional apple cider. By adding a splash of your preferred spirit, you can create a delightful adult version perfect for those brisk evenings.

7. Maple Pecan Latte:

– Maple and pecan—a harmonious autumnal pairing. This latte combines these delightful flavors with a caffeine kick for a drink that will have you coming back for more.

8. Herbal Teas for Fall:

– If caffeine isn’t your cup of tea, we have a selection of herbal teas that are tailor-made for sipping on a crisp autumn afternoon.

Fall is a season of vibrant colors and even more vibrant flavours. With our guide, you can embark on a journey of taste, comfort, and snug moments, all within the confines of your own home. Be it the allure of pumpkin, apple, or the spices of chai, there’s a warm fall drink to suit every taste. So, grab your favourite mug, gather your ingredients, and let your autumn sipping adventure commences. Here’s to the simple joys of fall!


Vancouver Island is a large island located in the southwestern part of British Columbia, Canada. It is separated from the mainland of British Columbia by the Strait of Georgia to the east and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south. The island is known for its stunning natural landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant communities.

Key features of Vancouver Island include:

  1. Natural Beauty: The island is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, including rugged coastlines, lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and majestic mountains. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and whale watching.
  2. Victoria: The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria, is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It is known for its British colonial architecture, beautiful gardens, and a charming waterfront. The famous Butchart Gardens and the Royal BC Museum are popular attractions in Victoria.
  3. Tofino and Ucluelet: These coastal communities on the western side of Vancouver Island are known for their stunning beaches, surfing opportunities, and access to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The area is also famous for its storm watching during the winter months.
  4. Nanaimo: A city located on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is known for its harbor, waterfront walkways, and the Nanaimo Bar (a popular Canadian dessert).
  5. Wildlife: The island is rich in wildlife, with opportunities to spot orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, sea lions, and bald eagles. The island’s proximity to the ocean and its varied ecosystems contribute to its diverse animal and plant life.
  6. Outdoor Activities: Vancouver Island offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park (the oldest provincial park in British Columbia), fishing in its numerous lakes and rivers, and exploring the many trails and parks.
  7. Island Communities: Beyond the larger cities, Vancouver Island is dotted with charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character and attractions.

Overall, Vancouver Island is a popular destination for both residents and tourists alike, offering a mix of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures. It’s a place where you can enjoy the tranquillity of nature and the vibrancy of local communities.

road trip checklist graphics

Does your vehicle pass the road trip checklist? Keep reading to find out.

Road trips are a great alternative to traditional plane, train, or bus-based travel right now. If you want to avoid packed airports, and the germ-spreading potential of recycled plane air, driving yourself to your vacation destination is the way to go. It also ensures that you are only traveling with your “close-knit” crew, be it friends or family, and not exposing yourself outside of your social bubble.   

Before you through a weekend bag in your trunk and pick a travel playlist, we recommend doing a once-over inspection of your vehicle of choice. Here are 7 things you should always check on your car before setting out on the wide, open highway.  

1. Fluid Check & Oil Change   

If it’s been a while since your last oil change, you should get one done (or do it yourself) before any long trip. You should change your oil approximately every six months (depending on M/KM usage). While you are at it, check the status of your transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant, as well.  

2. Battery Voltage   

If you have your own test equipment, you can do this at home. Otherwise, take your vehicle to a trusted service provider and ask them to test the battery voltage. If the reading is too low, or it’s been over three years, you might consider a battery replacement. If your battery needs a charge, it can take anywhere from 4 to 24 hours to do so. So, leave enough time in your schedule to handle this before you go. Battery problems are one of the top reasons AAA listed for emergency intervention on the road, so make sure you are ready.  

3. Brake Check  

Typically, the brake warning light on the car console will come on if there is an issue; however, it’s always good to do a quick self-lead check. If you already did the fluid check (above) then you’re ahead of the game. When testing your brakes: listen for any abnormal noises (squealing, scarping), note if the vehicle is erroneously pulling to one side or the other, and make note of the pedal feel as you press it. If anything seems out of whack, take it to a shop to get checked.   

4. Turn Signal Lights & Headlights   

For this, you’ll need a partner. Have someone stand outside your vehicle as you flash each turn signal (have them check back and front lights), brake lights, headlights, and fog lights. Remember that a burned-out bulb can get you a very easy-to-avoid ticket! Be sure to change any light bulbs that are performing poorly.   

5. Tire Air Pressure (Including Spare)  

Tire trouble is not only very common on long trips, but it is so, so easily avoidable. Check the tire pressure before you leave and keep a portable tire pressure gauge in your vehicle for on-the-go inspections. Fill your tires with air according to the levels recommended in the vehicle’s manual. If you have a spare tire: fill that one up, too! After all, it won’t do you any good to lug around a spare tire if it’s flat.   

6. Insurance Paperwork, Registration, and License   

Sometimes the most obvious things get forgotten about. Do a quick check to ensure that the insurance paperwork is kept somewhere obvious and accessible. Check the expiration date on your license. And make sure your plates aren’t due to expire any time soon.   

7. First Aid Kit & Emergency Items   

This is one of the most important parts of any road trip checklist. Be sure to have a roadside assistance emergency kit in your vehicle at all times, particularly when you are about to embark on a long road trip. You can also cobble one together yourself. You’ll want to include bandages, alcohol pads, a flashlight, candles, matches, jumper cables, reflective devices, and maybe even an emergency blanket.

Planning a road trip this year? Check out Breakaway Vacations’ various rental properties in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island areas. Booking now for summer 2021. 

Winter activities

You don’t need to be cooped up indoors during your stay at a Breakaway Vacation property in Parksville or Qualicum Beach from November through January. Vancouver Island, while renowned for its summertime affairs, has plenty to do even when the snow starts falling. Plus, you won’t have to fight the typical warm-weather crowds! Here are a few winter activities you can look forward to in the area.

  1. New Year’s Day Annual Polar Bear Splash

Don’t mind the chill? Want a challenge? Join the Parksville community on New Years Day as residents and visitors alike participate in the Polar Bear Splash. Dash into the winter-chilled ocean at Parkville Beach to brave the cold.

  1. Sports at Oceanside Place

Oceanside Place is a sports and ice area that is perfect for the whole family. They have an active skate schedule on their website if you want to pop by. You can also catch an Oceanside Generals game, if you want to watch the local hockey team.

  1. Winter Hiking

There are plenty of hiking areas that are open year-round, like Little Qualicum Falls, Top Bridge Park, Englishman River Falls, or Rathtrevor Beach. Most are empty during the winter months even though they are open, meaning you can have the trails and scenery all to yourselves!

  1. Take a Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tour

These are available year-round and offer trips suitable for families and seniors. You can pick the theme of your tour, ranging from nature tours to wine tours. The Salmon Spawning Tour is only available in October and November, making it a winter-exclusive activity!

  1. Horne Lake Caving, Winter Edition

We love caving year-round but winter caving tours tend to be less crowded and offer a different experience due to increased levels of moisture for the season. Horne Lake Caves offers October through January bookings with limited availability, so call ahead and save your spot.

  1. Visit Grotto Spa

The Tigh-Na-Mara Grotto Spa just outside of Parkville was named one of the top spas in Canada by Spas of America in 2018! Check out the large mineral pool, the relaxation lounge, various spa treatments, and finish your night with a meal from the attached Cedars Restaurant & Longue.

Vancouver Island has many, many things to do in the winter months. Want to hear more about where to stay to access these winter activities? Reach out to the Breakaway Vacation staff, we would be happy to help.

BC Beer

We talk a lot about wine on this blog. After all, B.C. is considered the “wine country” of Canada. Beer drinkers need not despair! We have plenty of craft breweries in the area, too. B.C. craft beer is rising in popularity, especially on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver proper. That means there is a ton our there for beer-lovers to try.

Autumn and winter come with their own flavours (think: dark beers, like stouts, and anything spiced). And B.C.-based breweries are more than accommodating to these seasonal tastes. Try any of these fall/winter season B.C. craft beers. You won’t regret it.

  1. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale

If you don’t already know, Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district in Vancouver, B.C. Granville Island Brewing was Canada’s first modern microbrewery. Their beers are ubiquitous across the province. You’ll have no problem finding the Lions Winter Ale, and more, at any local liquor store. The Lions Winter Ale has a vanilla-like flavour that pairs well with full-flavoured foods and cream-based sauces.

  1. Whistler Brewing Chestnut Ale

You can probably guess by the name, but Whistler Brewing is located in Whistler, British Columbia. This ski-resort-town is bustling with winter sports and year-round entertainment, including eateries and breweries. The chestnut ale is a spiced/herbed beer with a blend of caramel and crystal malts. It’s a “Warm you up from the inside out” kind of drink. The bold, nutty flavour will do well with any rich winter meal.

  1. Hoyne Dark Matter

Hoyne Brewing is located in Victoria, B.C., so if you are staying at one of our Parksville or Qualicum Beach vacation properties, a day trip for a tour is not out of the question. (It’s about a 2-hour drive away.) Dark Matter is a delicious stout-meets-brown-meets-porter. It’s a bit of an enigma, soft to sip with hints of chocolate. This is a beer for everyone, even those who tend to avoid darker brews.

  1. Nelson Brewing Co. Faceplant Winter Ale (Organic)

Nelson Brewing, located in, obviously, Nelson, has been a staple in the local community since 1991. They produce all nature, full-flavoured beers. They are certified organic, producing without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic engineering. The Faceplant winter Ale has hints of brown sugar and molasses. It’s sweet, malty, dark, and smooth.

  1. Driftwood Satori Harvest Fresh Hop IPA

Driftwood Brewing is located in Victoria, B.C. The Satori Harvest Fresh Hop IPA can only be brewed once a year when fresh Centennial hops are collected from Satori Cedar Ranch near Chilliwack. This IPA is hoppy, floral, piney, smooth, and grassy. Everything we love in a fall and winter season beer. It has a 7% ABV, so enjoy responsibly.

Find something you like thanks to this guide? Let us know in the comments! Want to visit some B.C. breweries first-hand? Ask us about our British Columbian vacation rentals.

Halloween events

If you are visiting Vancouver Island this October there are plenty of things to do as Halloween grows near. These events are compiled with our Breakaway Vacation properties in Parksville and Qualicum Beach in mind but don’t forget to explore what goes on in other areas like Victoria, as well!

  1. Halloween Party & Masquerade Ball

If you don’t mind a short drive to Nanaimo then be sure to buy tickets for the annual Halloween Part and Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Serauxmen Service Club. Enjoy dancing, live music, and a best costume prize (solo and group).

Location: Nanaimo Curling Club (106 Wall Street)

  1. Pumpkins on the Drive

Wander along Resort Drive to see an assortment of pumpkins carved and decorated for the season. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up some candy and hot chocolate along the way!

Location: Resort Drive in Parksville

  1. Friends of Foster Park Pumpkin Walk

More pumpkins, what a surprise! Tour through hundreds of pumpkins carved by community youth. This event takes place every year and is free to attend. The walk is family-friendly with enough rooms for strollers.

Location: Foster Park, Parksville

  1. Errington’s Pumpkin Trail and Fireworks

Visit Errington’s Community Park with the whole family in costume (child-friendly event) and check out the props hidden along the trails. Treats will be handed out at different milestone locations. There is also a market site at the end where you can stock up on treats and drinks. Plus: fireworks!

Location: Errington’s Community Park

  1. Coombs Candy Walk

This is a Halloween event held every year. Visitors can enjoy a circus-themed candy walk, concession stands, a “Little Ghouls” haunted house, and fireworks later in the night. The event is by donation, so chip in what you can.

Location: 1014 Ford Road, Coombs

  1. Halloween in the Village

Located in the heart of Qualicum Beach, Halloween in the Village includes a pumpkin trail, hotdogs and other treats, a bonfire, and some nighttime fireworks. Check online for more details, as they sometimes have a haunted house (OR a family-friendly version) set up, as well.

Location: Downtown Qualicum Beach

  1. Halloween Howl Swim

Want something totally unique? Try the Halloween Howl Swim at the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. The Centre is always decorated for the occasion. Also, there will be games and activities for kids. The event closed off with a piñata bash, so be sure to stick around.

Location: Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Not sure what you want to do to celebrate this Halloween with your family? Ask us about our vacation rentals on Vancouver Island!

April Events

April Events in the Qualicum and Parksville Areas (2020)


April ushers in the start of springtime festivities on Vancouver Island. The Qualicum and Parksville areas, where you can stay in one of Breakaway Vacations’ wonderful rental homes, have plenty going on. There is also much to do in the surrounding areas. Thanks to the smallness of the Island, it’s easy to take a day trip to Nanaimo or Victoria to see a show.

Here are a few things you can do in April!



Side-by-side, these neighbourhoods are ripe with local activity. There are plenty of communities that touch borders with these areas, making it easy to attend festivities in many different towns during your stay.


Elegant Threads and More Show & Sale at Qualicum Commons

April 3-4, 2020, starts at 10:00 AM

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners present Elegant Threads and More as a part of the weekend-long Brant Wildlife Festival. Shows, studio work, items for purchase, and more.


30th Pacific Brant Carving, Woodworking & Art Show at Parksville Community Centre

April 3-4, 2020, start times varies

The 30th Annual Carving and Woodworking show has demonstrations, exhibitions, art for sale, professional photography, seminars, auctions, and a youth painting workshop.


North Island Wildlife Recovery (NIWRA) Centre Eagle Release

April 4, 2020, starts at 11:00 AM

NIWRA helps protect and rehabilitate owls,

eagles, falcons, bears, and more – and you can be a part of it. During this event, a rescued eagle will be released back into the wild (~2:00 PM).


CHRCO Flea Market & Pancake Breakfast at the Coombs Rodeo Grounds, Qualicum

April 5, 2020, starts at 9:00 AM

Browse the local flea market to pick up some souvenirs or just check out what’s available. They also offer pancake breakfast for a small price, $6 for small and $8 for large.


Nell & Jim Band at Joyce Beaton House Concert, Qualicum Beach

April 20, 2020, at 7:30 PM

Nell & Jim Band is making a few different stops around the Island and Qualicum Beach is one of them! They claim influence from folk, bluegrass, Americana, roots, swing, jazz, and blues music.


BONUS: What’s Nearby?

Qualicum Beach is a short 45-minute drive from Nanaimo (Parksville is slightly shorter), which is where you can expect to find many larger events. Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is just over a 2-and-a-quarter-hour drive from the Qualicum Beach area. The drive is easy and beautiful and you can totally plan a day trip around it.


If you don’t mind going for a bit further, there are a few cool events hosted in these nearby hotspots:


Vancouver Island Symphony at The Port Theatre, Nanaimo

April 25, 2020, at 7:30 PM

Enjoy their show Symphony Rhapsody, which will feature audience-favourite works by Gershwin and Dvorak as well as two tuneful, jazz-infused brand new pieces.


Russell Brand @ University Centre Farquhar Auditorium, Victoria

April 5, 2020, at multiple showtimes

Looking for some edgy comedy to spice up your stay? Actor, comedian, and podcast host Russell Brand’s Recovery Live show might be just what you need.


Music, arts, community, and culture. You’ll find everything during your stay on Vancouver Island this spring. What event are you looking forward to?

Coffee Shops

The Best Coffee Shops for Island Vacationers


Mayne Island, Qualicum Beach, Pender Island, Parksville—Breakaway Vacations can help you find the perfect rental home for your Vancouver Island or Gulf Islands trip. There’s lots to see and do while you’re in the area, not least of which is to enjoy a steaming cup of joe at one of the many local cafes.

You can find a great coffee shop no matter where you find yourself on the Islands. Here are a few that stand out:



  • Sunny Mayne Bakery CafeSunny Mayne Bakery Café and the Miner’s Bay Ice Cream Emporium are locally and family-owned businesses based on gorgeous Mayne Island. While here, you’ll have fresh baked goods, homemade lunches, ice cream, custom cakes, take-out pizza, and more.
  • Shavasana Art Gallery & CafeSip some coffee or tea and wander through a local art exhibit—the two go hand-in-hand at Shavasana Art Gallery & Cafe. They have beautiful art and a down-to-Earth atmosphere. They serve 23 kinds of tea and a daily coffee. Note: They are only open May-through-September.



  • Slow Coast Coffee on Pender IslandWatch the ferries come-and-go with the beautiful ocean view at Slow Coffee. The cafe’s everyday menu items include crepes, dosas, and quesadillas, as well as daily specials on weekdays. You can even sit on the balcony, weather permitting.
  • Coffee + KitchenBe sure to call ahead for a reservation or arrive early if you want to check out Coffee + Kitchen; they fill up fast! They offer farm-to-table handcrafted food focusing on local ingredients and in the summer they even grow their own herbs and greens. Enjoy a coffee, tea, lattes, and more hot drinks as well as a made-fresh-daily lemonade.



  • Courtyard Cafe This cafe and crêperie boasts a welcoming and warm environment and a menu full of options, from crêpes, eggs, muffins, salads, cappuccinos, and more. The crêpes are easily the stand-out item and you can request them gluten-free and/or vegan. They serve both sweet and savory crêpes.
  • Oh So Yummy CafeDon’t let their minimalistic web presence fool you, the Oh So Yummy Cafe is not to be slept on! They sell homemade jams, homemade hot sauce, all-day breakfast, and more. They are truly the best-kept secret in Qualicum Beach so be sure to stop by.



  • Farmhouse Cafe and BakeryThis cafe and bakery has a modest selection of hot beverages but a great number of baked goods and snacky food items. The house blend coffee and flavoured tea offerings come with free refills so you can linger and relax. They bake farm-fresh bread so don’t forget to grab a loaf on your way out.
  • Rawthentic Ready for a unique “cafe” experience? Trade the regular old black coffee for an antioxidant smoothie, mint matcha latte, kombucha, or a wheatgrass shot. They serve raw food from an uber-healthy menu and are definitely one-of-a-kind on the Island. They have a kids’ smoothie menu, as well, so the whole family will be happy.


Quiet island life just isn’t the same without a steaming cup of coffee to sip while you enjoy the ocean view and slow beats of small-town life. We hope you have time to explore some of these great cafes during your stay.

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

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