We set off for Victoria Island, Father’s Day weekend, and had the “Mazda CX-5” to get us there. It was a good sized SUV for our lengthy drive. Plenty of room for ourselves and our over packing. With safety and comfort in mind it got us to our destination and our check-in.
We stayed at the “Holiday Inn Express” in Courtney, conveniently located in the hub of all our weekend’s worth of activities. Our room was equipped with two firm, queen sized beds with cloud-like sheets, a television, mini fridge, and coffee maker. Everything that we would need for a 3 night stay. And best of all, it included access to their complimentary breakfast bar. A buffet style offering with juice, toast, bagels, cereal, yogurt and a pancake making machine. The hotel also has a gym, swimming pool, hot tub, and water slide to take advantage of, but we were far to busy for any of it.
We came to take in the seafood festival, but also took the time to explore what one might do if not visiting during the festival. So for more on the actual BC Seafood Festival, check out my vlog for the highlights, and the blog for all the details.
When looking for places to eat outside of the festival, there are two restaurants worth considering for their view alone. “Blackfin Pub” and “Ocean 7”.
“Blackfin Pub” is nestled by the beach, overlooking the Comox marina and all of its boats. It offers slushed drinks and a bevy of bar favourites.
The “Louisiana Chicken wings” were tangy with a vinegary zip and a dull hot sauce flavour.
The two pounds of dry ribs seasoned in sea salt, cracked pepper, and lemon were extra meaty and surprisingly not dried out like they are at other pubs.
The lightly floured calamari was kettled fried and topped with red onion and tomato chunks. It was crispy with a nice chew, but on the blander side without a dip into tzatziki sauce.
I wanted rice with the “Thai coconut curry clams”, but made due with the grilled focaccia. A delicious warming broth to enjoy the fresh seafood in.
“Ocean7 Bistro” is located at “Kingfisher Resort & Spa”, their property boasts an unobstructed water side view and delicious ocean inspired dishes, best enjoyed on their scenic terrace. During the BC seafood festival run they were voted as the “BC seafood on your plate” winner by judges and fans alike. For more on this dining experience, visit the link below.
We also stopped at “Liquid” in Courtney for some late night eats, which we would learn was the Friday night hot spot. Bumping music, a fully seated bar, and a patio that stayed opened late.
There, we enjoyed the “Bourbon BBQ Makers Mark Ribs”. Baby back slow braised pork ribs, bourbon bbq sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. A class with fall off the bone meat and a lick your fingers clean sauce.
We partnered this with some slushy cocktails: a Bellini and what the restaurant has fondly named a “Bubblini”. It had the same house made peach slush as in the bellini did, but mixed with a mini bottle of sparkling wine.
We left long before the party ended, only to head to another, just as busy spot. Apparently Courtney’s local “Dairy Queen” is the place to go for some late sugar. There aren’t many dessert options in a small town, so this is where we and everyone else visited for some ice cream on a warm night. And it was here that I finally got to try and fully enjoy “DQ’s” new orange dreamsicle dipped soft serve cone.
But my favourite spot for ice cream on the island was “Love’s” in Cumberland. A cute little blue and white trailer parked permanently in out front of a house, using its lawn as their make shift patio seating area.
This was so good that they are now my new favourite ice cream place, with plenty of gluten and dairy free options. It is just a shame that they are all the way out in Cumberland and requires a ferry to get to. What sets them apart is their ability to swirl hand scooped ice cream. First you choose your base between coconut milk or vanilla cream, and then the frozen fruit you want to flavour it with. Wild blueberry, strawberry, mango, or a berry mix. Together they go into their special machine and what comes out is a perfect swirl. And best of all you can mix two flavours together for a double scoop. Or do what I did, and get a regular hard scoop of their “backyard mint chocolate chip”, and top it with a swirl of their wild blueberry with a vanilla ice cream base. Both ice cream flavours weren’t too sweet, just creamy and tasty, I can see why the line was forming well before they opened, and continued at a steady pace throughout our time there.
While waiting for them to open, we grabbed a couple of tacos from their neighbour, “Old Library Taco”. From what I gathered, the building was converted from an actual library to this cute little tacoria. The chicken and al pastor tacos were colourful, but not as tasty as they looked. I liked the space, but wouldn’t revisit for the price alone. $6 a bland taco seems steep.
Most of our free time in Comox Valley was spent exploring the sights and taking in the scenery.
Like every Saturday from April to October, Comox hosts its own farmer’s market from 9am to 1pm. This is a great way for locals to support small businesses in their community, and for visitors to try something homemade or home grown.
Farm raised beef that is government inspected, grass fed, and hormone free. Various meat sausages and whole roasting chickens. Plenty of pesticide-free, organic fruits and vegetables. Home made chips and salsa, loaves of bread, pastries and pretzels. Honey, barbecue sauces, spreads and preserves. Even ointments, soaps, and creams. It had everything including live music and food trucks for lunch.
We enjoyed getting up close to the fighter jets and all the rescue planes at the “Comox Air Force Museum Heritage Air Park”. You walk the laid out paths that bring you to each plane and a written description of it and its accomplishments. This self guided tour is offered Tuesday to Sunday from April to October.
For more on these planes and others, the Comox Air Force museum is nearby, marked with a statuesque fighter plane.
Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park was where majority of the seafood festivities were held, but outside of the annual affair, the space hosts beautiful views, and a bit of history.
Here, water side scenes unfold before you, best enjoyed on a quiet bench. And you are able to enjoy a self directed tour of Filberg Heritage Lodge, which also serves as a gift shop filled with antiques.
The house was decorated with photos and plaques offering explanations on the first floor. And on the second, bedrooms and bathrooms with collections of dishes, flatware, tea cups, soaps, creams, and vintage jewelry for sale.
But for views of green, water, and mountains in the background there are plenty of options. Most of which we found by using the Mazda’s built in navigation system, using it to exploring the unmarked roads.
On our drive we saw plenty of marshland during high tide, and the birds that dwelled there.
And plenty of beaches. Rocky beaches with stones covered in barnacles and seaweed.
Sandy beaches revealed during low tide.
Beaches with wind blown ridges in the sand.
And all the marine life to explore within the water that got caught in the tide pools. Mostly small crabs and mini fish.
My favourite spot was “Goose Spit Park”, a narrow coastal park with a sandy beach, and walking trails. During the day there were picnics, sandcastles, and folks digging for horse clams.
And during our visit, we just so happened to walk in to the 32nd annual Father’s Day kite flying competition. A family fun event with sign up sheets and prizes to be won.
At night, with plenty of pull up parking to stop your car by the water, “Goose Spit” made for a great place to watch the sun set from.
But for a view of the valley from above, we drove the “Mazda CX-5” up Mount Washington. We sadly didn’t make it in time for the sunset, but did catch a few streaks of colour in the sky.
On the way up the mountain we caught glimpses of deer, but sadly none of the marmots that the caution signs told us to watch out for.
We were too early in the season for their new chairlift, however those visiting the Comox Valley area now will be able to take a ride up and down for spectacular views.
In short, there is plenty to see and do in Comox. So Seafood Festival or not, they are definitely worth your vacationing consideration. And thanks to the “Mazda CX-5” we got to enjoy it all, and in full during our stay.
TOURISM COMOX VALLEY