by Lara Gladych –
Seaside Magazine wants to live up to our slogan of being “the voice of the Saanich Peninsula,” so, in every issue, we ask people to answer a question. We’re looking for responses from all ages and across the diverse neighbourhoods that form our community.
As vacation season nears, Island-based holidays are what’s in store for many locals. Whether you’re an avid camper, a “glamper” or one who prefers something less rustic and more luxurious, there’s likely a spot on Vancouver Island that speaks to you when summer destinations come to mind.
On Vancouver Island there are, by my count, 25 provincial park campgrounds, and a multitude of private campgrounds and RV parks. Add to that list the many cabin, hotel and resort accommodations the Island has to offer, and whether the draw is a particular destination or a specific interest you can easily make your perfect Island vacation take shape.
I headed out to the West Saanich location of Red Barn Market to speak with customers about their favourite camping and vacation retreats come holiday time.
The first person I spoke with was Vikki, who is 57. Her favourite Island trips include Courtney/Comox, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Kye Bay Beach, in Comox, is a special place for her, mostly because it’s where she watches the Snowbirds airshow with her grandchildren. I see her face light up as she speaks of it.
“I don’t go camping,” said Joan, 90. She does, however, love staying at Pacific Sands Beach Resort, in Tofino. She loves to walk the beach and visit Chocolate Tofino, where they have “the best chocolate.”
Tofino, Ucluelet, and Parksville top Juliette’s list of favourite destinations. She’s 47. It’s the beaches that are the draw for her.
Bonnie, 68, also enjoys Parksville, where she’s a hotel-goer rather than a camper. There’s a particular antique store she likes to visit when she isn’t taking in the ocean, and she says there’s also a very nice restaurant (The Bayside Bistro & Lounge) at the Quality Inn.
Stephen, 26, has been gradually exploring Vancouver Island since moving here four years ago. He prefers day trips and trail hikes, and his visits to Port Alberni, Botanical Beach and the sand castles in Parksville have been his favourites so far. He notes that eating at My Chosen Café, in Metchosin, is well worth the drive.
I learn of somewhere on the Island that is new to me, a place I have to look up: Tahsis. “Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tahsis is a premier ecotourism destination with unparalleled outdoor recreation, stunning coastal scenery and a walkable village … nestled in the heart of Nootka Sound.” (www.villageoftahsis.com). Hopefully I’m not the only one unfamiliar with this little gem. This is Brian’s favourite “glamping” spot, and he said he visits regularly. Brian is 38.
With Brian was Chris, 26. Tofino is Chris’s destination of choice, and he goes there for the surfing. He typically camps or rents something via VRBO, and Tacofino is the local food he likes best.
Two people in a row mentioned Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. The first was Dana, 60, and the second was Heather, 64. Heather is a camper, and Port Hardy is her alternate choice. I ask her if she camps for shorter weekend getaways or for longer periods, and she tells me that they will typically camp for two weeks during the summer. She said that Mt. Washington is another favourite place to visit on the Island, but that it has become too expensive for her liking.
I met April, 36, who is in the process of looking for a house on the Island. With such a fresh perspective I ask her what has made an impression on her so far. She and her family have very much enjoyed Butchart Gardens, and look forward to fishing in Sooke.
Next there was Ted, 58. Ted, like many others, enjoys Tofino. The Best Western Tin Wis Resort is his accommodation of choice, and eating at the Wickaninnish Inn has been a highlight. Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort is another of his best-liked vacations, which he enjoys for the beach walking.
We came back to Rathtrevor as a favoured destination by the last few people I spoke with. Kelly, 42, said she was a tenter when she was younger, but now enjoys an RV for summer vacationing. Mini golf and beach combing keep her busy during her getaways. Deid, 73, is also a Rathtrevor fan, and he camps with his wife, Suzanne, 64, in their small trailer. Suzanne adds that Island View Beach is where she most likes to camp. Thank you for the reminder, Suzanne, that sometimes paradise is in our very own backyard.