Cowichan region, about 60 minutes north of Victoria over the Malahat Drive, is renowned for its outdoor recreation opportunities, agricultural attractions and inviting communities.
Duncan is the commercial centre of the Cowichan region and a hub of First Nations art and culture. “The City of Totems” boasts some 80 totem poles, including 40 in the downtown area, where you can view the totems while exploring the many unique shops and eateries. Pick up a tour map at the Visitor Centre.
Favourite pastimes include wine touring, hiking and camping, along with family-friendly attractions like the BC Forest Discovery Centre and The Raptors.
South of Duncan are the communities of Cobble Hill, Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake, a cosy lakeside community popular for watersports. This gorgeous area is famous for its vineyards and produces some of the finest wines and ciders on Vancouver Island. Many of the facilities offer sampling, tours, picnic areas and wine shops. Agriculture tours are also growing in the Cowichan Region, where farm markets and tours attract more and more visitors.
The community of Cowichan Bay is perched over a natural deep-sea harbour and many of the buildings in this charming village – including a unique maritime museum – extend over the water. Along the waterfront, find a variety of gift shops and restaurants.
North of Duncan is Chemainus, renowned for the many professionally painted murals and sculptures beautifully depicting its history and culture.
The town’s quaint streets are lined with small shops, galleries and restaurants, anchored by the Chemainus Theatre, a star attraction featuring live, year-round plays and musicals. Stop by the Chemainus Coast Community Credit Union and pick up some “Chemainus Dollars” to use in town or take away for a souvenir.
Duncan’s climate is warm and temperate. Rainfall falls mostly in the winter, with relatively little rain in the summer.
Destination BC is developing a new campaign to promote hyper-local travel where residents are “tourists-in-their own hometown,” while practising the COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the B.C. Provincial Health Officer. Many B.C. parks are now open, and national parks were to open as of June 1.
(Check this website for current details on travel.)
Vehicle: From Victoria, head north on the Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 N for about an 75 minutes. From Nanaimo, head south on Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 S for 40 minutes.
Ferry: BC Ferries offers services from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay to Victoria at Swartz Bay and Nanaimo at Duke Point.
Flying: The closest airport option is Nanaimo Airport that includes services from West Jet, Air Canada, and Air North. Victoria International Airport is about a 90-minute drive. Seaplanes from Harbour Air are also available for flights to either Nanaimo and Victoria.