Just one hour north of Victoria lays the Cowichan Valley. An area known for its unique micro-climate, Cowichan Valley is a pastoral paradise of farms, orchards and vineyards that encompasses several communities including Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, Chemainus and Cowichan Lake.
The popular summer-cottage community of Shawnigan Lake is Lower Vancouver Island's favourite lake destination as well as the centre of a burgeoning arts and crafts community. Whether daytripping or setting up shop in one of the lakeside cottages, Shawnigan Lake is the place to be for sunbathing, waterskiing, fishing, hiking or just relaxing.
Follow Shawnigan Lake Road for 7 kilometers and you'll find yourself in Cobble Hill, a modest farming community with a distinctly old fashioned feel. Historically restored sites include the old post office, the bakery and even the market. It's easy to enjoy hours browsing through the galleries, boutiques and antique shops of this unique town's tiny centre. Cobble Hill also hosts a popular country fair on the fourth Saturday each August!
Duncan has the largest population of the area. Once called Alderly, Duncan got its name from the original location of the train station, at the foot of Farmer Duncan's field. Today, its coined name, the City of Totems, is testament to the abundance of Aboriginal art and culture in the area. Don't be fooled by the strip malls and burger-joints on Highway 1. Just off the main strip is the true heart of Duncan - a few small blocks of quaint shops and cafes clustered around an Old World-style train station. And while you're here, don't miss the world's largest hockey stick, either! (205 feet)
Moments away on the island's east coast, sits the impossibly-pristine town of Cowichan Bay. A sleepy fishing village-turned vacation destination, Cow Bay (as the locals call it) is home to a colourful houseboat community as well as one of the best ice-cream shops on the island!
Once a nearly-dead logging town, Chemainus has now become one of Vancouver Island's most popular destinations due in part to the famous murals that cover every available flat surface in town and to the acclaimed Chemainus Theatre, purveyor of some of the finest plays and musicals in the country.
Looking for the lake-life? Cowichan Lake has many cottage communities to choose from. Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, Caycuse, Mesachie Lake...
We're betting your vacation will be amazing, wherever in Cowichan Valley you find yourself.