Park, bays, and waterfalls
You can fly to Victoria International Airport and rent a car, or drive into Canada and catch a ferry (BC Ferries, www.bcferries.com or 604/444-2890) from Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) to Swartz Bay.
1. Goldstream Provincial Park. Salmon run is late Oct-early Dec; hike to Niagara Falls or Mt. Finlayson. 173 campsites from $17. 10 miles north of Victoria off Trans-Canada Hwy. 1; www.bcparks.ca or 250/478-9414.
2. Cowichan Bay. Great grazing on Cowichan Bay Rd., the main drag: The Udder Guy’s Ice Cream Parlor (1721 Cowichan Bay Rd.; 250/746-4300), True Grain Bread (closed Mon-Tue; 1725 Cowichan Bay Rd.; 250/746-7664), and the Masthead Restaurant ($$$; 1705 Cowichan Bay Rd.; 250/748-3714). Check out rustic crafts at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre & Wooden Boat Society (1761 Cowichan Bay Rd.; 250/746-4955).
3. Duncan. Totem tours hourly Mon-Sat May 2-Sep 3; meet at Cowichan Valley Museum (130 Canada Ave.; 250/715-1700).
4. The Bungy Zone Adrenaline Centre. $80 for an unforgettable bungee jump almost into the Nanaimo River (Nanaimo River Rd. west of Cassidy; 250/716-7874).
5. Downtown Nanaimo. Shopping at Fascinating Rhythm (174 Commercial St.; 250/716-9997), Gallery 223 (223 Commercial; 250/741-1188), Hill’s Native Art (76 Bastion St.; 250/755-7873), and Nanaimo Maps & Charts (closed Sun; 8 Church St.; 250/754-2513); and good food at Glow World Cuisine ($$; 7 Victoria Rd.; 250/741-8858).
6. Milner Gardens & Woodland. 10-4 Thu-Sun Mar 31-May 1, 10-4 daily May 5-Sep 5; $8. 2179 W. Island Hwy., Qualicum Beach; 250/752-6153.
7. Courtenay & District Museum and Palaeontology Centre. $2.50 donation suggested. 207 Fourth St., Courtenay; 250/334-0686.
8. Stotan Falls. On Comox Logging Rd., 1 3/4 miles west of Lake Trail Rd. in Courtenay.
9. Campbell River. Stroll the sea walk from Frank James Park (check out the chain-saw carvings) to Discovery Harbour, about 4 miles. Exceptional pasta at Fusilli Grill ($$; 220 Dogwood St.; 250/830-0090).
10. Elk Falls Provincial Park. 150-foot waterfall into a deep, dark gorge. 122 campsites from $7. 4 miles west of Campbell River on Hwy. 28; 250/248-9460.