British Columbia's Cowichan Valley

Author: Canadian Living


British Columbia's Cowichan Valley

Tucked into coastal contours along the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, B.C., Victoria practically compels visitors to fix their gaze seaward. Yet to stay within the city limits and maintain a singular focus while on this part of the Island would be a mistake. A trip to the laid-back Cowichan Valley, about 60 kilometres north of Victoria, promises to be enjoyable for sightseers and adrenaline junkies alike.

Cowichan Valley's historic drive with breathtaking scenery
Shortly after you leave Victoria, the main road to the Cowichan Valley (Highway 1) becomes Malahat Drive – a winding, hilly climb that follows the route of a 19th century trail originally used for driving livestock from Cowichan farms to city markets.

As you continue north, spectacular views of the Saanich Peninsula and Gulf Islands are available from several roadside pull-offs. Or, for those who prefer fine dining with their scenery, there's no topping the panorama that unfolds from the deck of the restaurant in the Malahat Mountain Inn, unforgettably suspended 182 metres above the waters of Saanich Inlet.

Orca whales, paragliding, scuba and more
Shortly after the Malahat becomes Highway 1 again, a 10-minute detour along shoreline-hugging Mill Bay Road just might result in the sighting of an orca whale or two.

Duncan, further up the road, is the hub of the Cowichan Valley. From here, set out for a day of hiking, mountain biking, golfing or paragliding (at Vancouver Island Paragliding).

Nearby Chemainus is the only place in the world where scuba divers can find a Boeing 737 that's been deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef. Check it out the next time you want to make a splash in the Cowichan Valley.

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British Columbia's Cowichan Valley