Basking in sunshine on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Oceanside is Beach Country, and one of the finest year-round vacation destinations in Canada.
Boasting spectacular sandy beaches, coastal mountain vistas, and lush temperate forests, Oceanside enjoys the mildest climate in the country, with an annual average of 2,050 hours of sunshine. The tourism region of Oceanside incorporates the holiday communities of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanoose Bay, French Creek, Arrowsmith Coombs Country, and Lighthouse Country.
With no less than seven provincial parks located within a thirty-minute drive, Oceanside provides a host of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, camping, caving and golfing. Bordered to the east by the Strait of Georgia, Oceanside also offers every watersport imaginable, including sport fishing, canoeing, sea kayaking, diving, beachcombing, sailing, and windsurfing.
Population: Approximately 25,000
Location: Oceanside is located along Highway 19 on south central Vancouver Island. The largest community in Oceanside – Parksville – is approximately 2 hours (88 miles/147 km) north of Victoria. Air links to Oceanside are through Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox to the north. Ferry access from Vancouver to Oceanside is through Nanaimo, 45 minutes (22 miles/36 km) to the south of Oceanside. BC Ferries operates two scheduled ferry services to Nanaimo from the BC mainland:
- BC Ferries: Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Departure Bay, Nanaimo
- BC Ferries: Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, south of Vancouver to Duke Point, Nanaimo
View maps of the area
Bordered by ocean and sheltered by mountains, Parksville is a very popular for summer family vacations. Mild winters allow the leisurely exploration of tidal sand flats, coastal wildlife viewing and invigorating golf year-round. The central location of Parksville makes this oceanside playground a convenient base from which to enjoy all your vacation activities on Vancouver Island.
Steeped in quaint British heritage and famous for its local arts, crafts and beautiful English gardens, modern day Qualicum Beach offers visitors the same gentle countryside and golden, seemingly endless, sandy beaches. Pause here at any of the numerous beachside pullouts and smell the salt air intermingled with the perfume from the many private and public floral displays.
The rural community of Nanoose Bay is a vacation paradise and hot spot for golfers, clam diggers and water sport enthusiasts. Nanoose Bay enjoys a country atmosphere while being close to the city amenities of Parksville and Nanaimo. The peninsula’s large, protected harbour is a popular destination for visiting boats from around the world, and is home to an assortment of marinas.
The bustling marine community of French Creek is located beside the open water of the Strait of Georgia. French Creek’s working harbour is home to a large commercial fishing fleet and many charter operations that can take visitors fishing, sightseeing, and diving. French Creek Marina offers sheltered moorage and yachting amenities for sailboats and pleasure craft.
Lighthouse Country is located across from Denman and Hornby Islands, incorporating the small communities of Horne Lake, Qualicum Bay, Bowser and Deep Bay. Rich in history, folklore and Native culture, Lighthouse Country offers its many visitors a genuinely friendly welcome and a fabulous vacation destination in a charming rural atmosphere.
Located in the Arrowsmith Coombs Country region of Oceanside, Coombs is a popular stopping point for tourists on the way to Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The little village of Coombs is dotted with several heritage buildings, small gift and craft shops, antique stores, and is known for the family of goats nimbly grazing on the grass rooftop of the Coombs Old Country Market.
Located in the Arrowsmith Coombs Country region of Oceanside, in the shadow of Vancouver Island’s mountain spine, the tiny village of Errington was named after a small village in England’s Northumberland County. Now home to an eclectic assortment of farmers, artists and craftspeople, Errington is also the gateway to the Englishman River Falls in the magnificent Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
Provincial Parks in Oceanside include the following parks:
- Englishman River Falls Provincial Park near Errington
- Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville
- Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park alongside Highway 4
- MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) alongside Highway 4
- Spider Lake Provincial Park north of Qualicum Beach
- Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park north of Qualicum Beach
- Rosewall Creek Provincial Park near Deep Bay
Campgrounds: Excellent provincial park campgrounds are located at Rathtrevor Beach, Little Qualicum Falls, and Englishman River Falls Provincial Parks, offering unforgettable summer camping vacations for the whole family.
Golf: Oceanside offers six golf courses in the neighbourhood, and over a dozen courses within an hour’s drive. Qualicum Beach has three courses; Eaglecrest Golf Club, Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, and Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club. Fairwinds Golf and Country Club is situated near Schooner Cove in Nanoose Bay, Parksville has the Morningstar Golf Club, and Arrowsmith Golf & Country Club is located north of Qualicum Beach. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
Arts & Crafts: The artwork, sculpture, and crafts produced in the area are evident everywhere, in a number of public art galleries, in public buildings and local parks, and in the many artists’ studios that can be found dotted around the countryside. Watch for blue ‘Artisan’ signs to indicate a studio open to the public, or better yet, check in at the Visitor Centres for a current list and directions.
History & Heritage: Visitors can get an interesting glimpse into local history – from the prehistoric age to the time of the early settlers – at the Qualicum Beach Museum and Historical Society. The palaeontology exhibit includes fossils primarily from Vancouver Island, including a 70,000 year-old adult female walrus nicknamed Rambling Rosie! The Craig Heritage Park in Parksville grows every year as more buildings from the early pioneer days are added to a collection that includes a school, church, and the original Craig family home, and antique vehicles and machinery are on display.
Take a break from the beach and drive north to Buckley Bay for a visit to Denman Island and Hornby Island, located just offshore from Lighthouse Country. These tranquil and enchanting southern Gulf Islands are accessed by a 15-minute ferry ride from Buckley Bay to Denman Island, and a second ferry trip to Hornby Island.
To the north of Oceanside is the Comox Valley, surrounded by the peaks and glaciers of Vancouver Island’s mountain ranges that rise in the west, principally the imposing Comox Glacier, Forbidden Plateau, and Mount Washington.
Circle Tours: See the best of BC when you embark upon one of the many circle tours that take in Vancouver Island, the Discovery Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. The coastal tours involve exciting road and ferry trips on BC Ferries, and scenic highways flank the coast, taking you through charming beachside communities, rolling farmlands and majestic mountain ranges. Check out the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, and other Circle Tours in British Columbia.