Just 45-minutes from the provincial capital of Victoria, Shawnigan is a small picturesque Vancouver Island lakeside community with a population of 4 thousand.
While in the Fall and Winter, the area is most noted for its three boarding schools (Shawnigan Lake School, Maxwell International School and Lakeside Preparatory Academy), the Spring and Summer reveal a completely different face: During the warmer months, Shawnigan becomes a popular destination for visitors from near and far, including many island city-folk who own lake-side cottages. The local population almost doubles as campers, picnickers, wake-boarders and water-skiers flock to the area. Summer afternoons, water-sports enthusiasts share the crystal clear waters with swimmers; summer nights, the smell of barbeques wafts across the lake as locals and visitors unwind from what can only be described as a picture-perfect BC lakefront experience. Mornings are no less amazing as the sun slowly rises on the early-morning anglers looking for the first catch of the day. Shawnigan Lake Village itself is home to 3 restaurants. Reward yourself for being an early-bird and catch a relaxing breakfast out.
There's more to the village than a handful of eateries, however. Shawnigan is home to a well-established arts and craft community. Browse around and you'll be sure to find local, hand-crafted treasures at one of several markets or artisan festivals that punctuate the local calendar year. That being said, the most valuable possession you'll need for a vacation here won't be your wallet - it will be your hiking boots. So much of Shawnigan's beauty is best discovered on foot. Paddle out to Memory Island Provincial Park for incomparable picnicking. Stop for the fantastic bird-watching. Explore the astonishingly beautiful shoreline with cabins and cottages set amongst the forested glades. Ramble through the farmlands of the lake's undeveloped south end...
Some of Southern Vancouver Island's most beautiful treks can be found in and around Shawnigan. Trail systems like the Koksilah and West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park routes provide all-day adventure with popular destinations such as the abandoned Kinsol Trestle in the Koksilah River Valley (one of the highest wooden trestle bridges on earth!) For those seeking longer treks, the sandy, arbutus-lined beaches of Bamberton Provincial Park provide a welcome dose of fresh ocean air. And thanks to the Southern Island's temperate climate, this area is a viable option many months a year.
Shawnigan truly provides the Vancouver Island lake-experience at its finest!