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Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

Level Contributor
133 posts
8 reviews
Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

We will be spending two nights on the east side before heading west to Tofino for three nights. While on the east side, we think we want to go to Cathedral Grove, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Falls, English River Falls, take a tour to see Killer Whales (do I have the right area for this?), and possibly Campbell River if it's feasible although I'm not quite sure what we'd do there yet.

Questions: Should we definitely stay in Parksville or would something farther north like Courtenay be a better location? Should we plan to see CG, QB, and QF on the day we drive to Tofino? Are we missing any 'must-see's' on the east side?

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
49,044 posts
57 reviews
1. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

P'ville would be great. It's only half an hour from any of those attractions and Courtenay. Courtenay has a neat little museum and a lovely estuary (birds.) Plus it will have the most amenities and a good beach.

Campbell River has the whale watching tours. It's an easy one hour drive from P'ville. But just so you know, a ww tour will take about 3 hours or so and you are only planning 2 nights. Tofino also has whale watching tours, so suggest you consider doing ww there.

An hour for each of the 4 attractions you mentioned. An hour for Courtenay museum and paleontology centre, one for the estuary, 2-3 hours for Nanaimo. How about the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. How about Dinghy Dock Pub just off Nanaimo, on its own island. :-)

Level Contributor
159 posts
2. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

I love the Comox Valley, however the 2 towns are only 1/2 hour apart. There are more beaches in the Comox Valley to go to, but more of the hotels are located along the beach in Parksville, if that is important to you.

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
Level Contributor
9,860 posts
122 reviews
3. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

I'd do Cathedral Grove on the way in to Tofino. Combine Englishman River Falls with Coombs . Big Qualicum Hatchery has some nice hiking as well

Level Contributor
133 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

Thank you for your responses! We got a room at the Beach Club and the 'time allowance' information is very helpful to my planning!

Destination Expert
for Vancouver Island
Level Contributor
2,452 posts
130 reviews
5. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

You will have more success with a whale watching tour from Campbell River than from Courtenay. There are lots of good tour companies - Aboriginal Journey's has a good reputation.

Campbell River also has a fantastic museum depicting early coastal life as well as a short video of the blowing up of Ripple Rock - a navigational hazard that was the largest non nuclear man made explosion. The Maritime Heritage Centre has a lot of coastal navigational type history, and is right next to the Pier with awesome ice cream.

Should you decide to go to Campbell River from Parksville, take Hwy 19A (old Island Hwy) being more scenic than Hwy 19 (Inland Island Hwy). Use Hwy 19 on the return as a faster route.

Level Contributor
13 posts
6. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

In my experience parksville is the best place to stay,I hope the following link will be useful for you plz check it out :


7. Re: Better location: Courtenay or Parksville

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