Cowichan Valley – Day 3 of a 5-Day Trip on Vancouver Island
Day 3 is actually a blend of multiple days. I was working from home on Vancouver Island, so these activities are a combination of my after work activities. The Cowichan Valley is located in between Nanaimo and Victoria. It has a great selection of activities – hiking, wineries, cideries, water sports – and cute communities such as Cowichan Bay (Cow Bay). The largest city in the Cowichan Valley is Duncan, which is home to the largest hockey stick in the world.
To start your morning, head to Cow Bay and pick up some breakfast pastries from True Grain. Cow Bay is a cute spot (unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of Cow Bay) lined with stores and small restaurants. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or stand up paddle boarding.
After a morning stroll in Cow Bay, go for a hike! I have two suggestions – The Mount Tzouhalem Cross Hike or Stoney Hill Trail Loop. The Mount Tzouhalem Cross hike takes about 1.5 hours to ascend and as the name indicates, there is a cross at the peak. It can be steep at certain points.
The Stoney Hill Trail Loop, located in Stoney Hill Regional Park, has the most reward for minimum difficulty. The trail is a loop and has varying elevations, but nothing too steep. Round-trip takes about an hour and half. There are 3 different viewpoints along the trail.
Side Note: Here are some pictures from a hike near Cow Bay. Unfortunately, I cannot quite pinpoint the exact location of the hike other than that it was near Cow Bay.
After the hike, it is probably a good time for some lunch. Saison Market Vineyard is a lovely spot for lunch. They have baked goods and are situated in a vineyard.
Then, head to Valley Cider next door. Valley Cider makes cider and soda. The sodas are great mixed with spirits!
Next, continue to Westholme Tea Company. They have a great selection of artisanal organic teas.
Westholme Tea Company
Afterwards, visit Averill Creek Vineyard. The winery is at the top of a hill and has a great view of the valley. Their wines are great and I always leave Averill Creek with a bottle in hand. The wine tastings are $10/person and features 5 of their wines, which changes frequently.
We headed to Maple Bay for a canoe. We had a canoe back at home, so we only had to bring it down to the water. Fear not if that is not an option for you as there is a kayak rental shop by Maple Bay called Wilderness Kayaking. Maple Bay is a good spot for kayaking or canoeing due to the calm water (for the most part). You might even be lucky and see wildlife – I’ve seen seals, otters, and orcas in Maple Bay!
For dinner, head to Genoa Bay Café, a waterside restaurant serving up Canadian fare and local wines. For evening drinks, head back to Maple Bay and visit the Lion Rampant Scottish Pub. Genoa Bay Café and the Lion Rampant Scottish Pub have ocean front views, making them great options to watch the sunset. Here’s a photo of the early evening sky in Maple Bay:
Once it is dark, walk down to the water and disturb the water. You’ll see the shimmering of the bioluminescence! Another option to experience the bioluminescence is to go for an evening canoe or kayak (make sure to bring headlights and dress accordingly). Some of the rental companies have options for evening paddles, but these tours are date/season dependent, so would need to be booked ahead of time.
Side Note: Here is a gorgeous photo from when we went fishing. We picked a spot further out from the bay.
Complete Day 3 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
9:00am: Walk along Cowichan Bay. Pick up pastries from True Grain.
10:00am: Go for a hike. Suggestions: Mount Tzouhalem Cross (14 minute drive from Cow Bay) or Stoney Hill Trail Loop (23 minute drive from Cow Bay).
12:00pm: Have lunch at Saison Market Vineyard (18 minute drive from either hike).
1:00pm: Visit Westholme Tea Farm (4 minute drive from Saison Market Vineyard).
2:00pm: Visit Averill Creek Vineyard (11 minute drive from Westholme Tea Farm).
3:00pm: Go for an afternoon kayak in Maple Bay (14 minute drive from Averill Creek Vineyard).
6:00pm: Have dinner at Genoa Bay Café (12 minute drive from Maple Bay).
8:00pm: Have drinks at Lion Rampant Scottish Pub (12 minute drive from Genoa Bay Café).
10:00pm: Walk down to the water at Maple Bay and check out the bioluminescence (2 minute walk). Option: Go for an evening canoe or kayak.
5-Day Vancouver Island Itinerary
Click “Download” below for an excel version of my 5-Day Vancouver Island Itinerary. Feel free to use the excel file as a planning template for your own trip in the Vancouver Island!