Parks & Beaches of Parksville & Qualicum Beach
Sand and sea are the major attractions at the beaches in Oceanside.
Rathtrevor Provincial Park contains one of the Island’s most popular campgrounds, plus nature displays, interpretive walks and picnic sites. A five-kilometre stretch of beach is perfect for families who can enjoy the sands, the warm water (the warmest ocean swimming temperatures in Canada) and the tidal pools left behind when the waters recede.
Of course, Parksville itself is centred around one of the best public beach parks on the Island—the Parksville Community Beach. This beach is an activity mecca and is the setting for many festivals, including the three-week Parksville Beach Festival held every summer, which features a major sand sculpting competition.
Farther north, Qualicum Beach curves along the bay, with more than four kilometres of sand, water and tidal pools. A promenade follows much of the beach, complete with shade trees, picnic tables and cafes.
West of Parksville, two parks provide contrasting experiences. Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a haven on a hot day, with trails that parallel and cross the river, which drops over two spectacular falls within a short distance. The water-carved gorge is well worth seeing. At the base of the lower falls, low water in the summer creates a cool bathing hole. The park contains picnic tables and campgrounds, plus hiking trails. MacMillan Provincial Park, on the highway west to Port Alberni, provides the Island’s most accessible opportunity to see amazing old-growth cedar and Douglas fir.
On Port Alberni Road, Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park contains a campground and picnic ground at the waterfalls on the Little Qualicum River. Nearby, Cameron Lake Park features picnic sites, sand beaches, swimming, trout fishing and launch sites for kayaks and canoes. Across the road from this park, you can gain access to Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park trails, which lead upwards to alpine meadows and spectacular views.
North of Qualicum Beach lie a number of parks that front on interior lakes or on the ocean. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is the region’s spelunking centre. Horne Lake Regional Park has campground and picnic areas, beaches and trails, with opportunities for boating and water-skiing.
Not far away, Spider Lake Park has a small beach good for launching canoes and kayaks and for swimming. In Rosewall Provincial Park, north of Deep Bay, a wheelchair-accessible path winds through coastal rainforest.