Exploring parts of Vancouver Island….
First stop Chermainus…..
Driving around the southern part of Vancouver Island with locals was fabulous as we saw and experienced things we wouldn’t have done otherwise.
The first all day trip had us off soon after breakfast and travelling the Malahat, with stunning views across the Saannich Peninsula and the Gulf Islands. Our first destination was Chemainus.
Founded as an unincorporated logging town in 1858, with the recession in the forestry industry, Chemainus is now famous for its outdoor murals. This outdoor gallery has given birth to many businesses, including a theatre, antiques dealers, and eateries. The tourist industry stemming from the murals helped rejuvenate the town after its large sawmill closed in the early 1980s and was replaced by a smaller, more efficient, mill.
After coffee, a walk around town to inspect the 30+ murals and a yummy lunch, we headed off to watch a show at the local theatre. Kim’s Convenience is a story about a Korean immigrant running a grocery store in Toronto. It was both hysterically funny and extremely moving as it tracked a family through the adjustment of moving to another country and dealing with the cultural challenges.
Rather than retracing our steps on the way home, we took a car ferry across to Salt Spring Island, one of the Canadian Gulf Islands. We just made it to the local bakery before it closed, and armed with all sorts of delights, we aimed for the highest point, Mount Maxwell. Fortunately we were in an SUV as the road was pretty rough in places and we were grateful to reach the top. The views over the region were worth the climb and provided a great backdrop to munching our baked goodies.
Another ferry ride completed our travels home. Whilst the sun had only just set – around 830pm – we were all ready for bed soon after.
….then Botanical Beach…..
The second of our all day driving trip took us to Botanical Beach on the southern part of the west coast of Vancouver Island. We had to make sure we were there at low tide as the key claims to fame are the number of rock pools teaming with sea life. The walk from the car park was a bit challenging and scrambling on the slippery seagrass covered rocks a bit treacherous. But we managed to check out the sea urchins, anemones and starfish before marching back up the hill to our vehicle.
We had to ensure that the Steller’s Jay bird nestled in the tree above us did not steal our sandwiches as we relaxed at the park bench eating lunch.
Again we travelled back on an alternate route, this time a bit further inland, getting great views of the mountains that had been cleared of trees – revealing how large and steep they are!