Chemainus Day Trip

posted on Apr 04

A trip to Chemainus and Qualicum Beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island offers many sightseeing and other opportunities for visitors to Vancouver Island. There are many stops along the way where you’ll find places to eat, shop or browse through art galleries, museums and antique shops.

Getting to Chemainus from Victoria is easy. Simply follow Douglas Street out of town and it eventually becomes Highway 1. Keep following Highway 1 as you head “up-island”.  It is about a 30-45 minute drive to Duncan on the highway, which takes you over the Malahat Pass.

On a clear day, as you reach the summit of the Malahat Pass, to pull over to the view point (on the right) where you can pause to admire the view over the Saanich Peninsula and beyond to the Lower Mainland and the Northwest corner of Washington State. If it is really clear you will be able to see Mount Baker in Washington State very clearly.  The drive to the summit from Victoria will take you about 15-20 minutes.

(Stop here for approximately 10-15 minutes)

Return to Highway 1 (also known as the Island Highway) and keep heading north to Duncan, “the City of Totems.” Drive from the summit up to Duncan approximately 20-25 minutes.

 If you wish to stop in Duncan, it would be worth stopping at the Quwutsun Cultural Centre where you can learn about the history of our Northwest Coast aboriginal population.

(Stop in Duncan for approximately 1 hour)

Continue along Highway 1 north out of Duncan. About 10-15 minutes after leaving Duncan look for the directional signs pointing to the village of Chemainus (on the right).  At the traffic lights turn right and drive down to the bottom of the road, then turn left at the stop sign. The road will take you into the village of Chemainus.

Chemainus is known for its astounding life-size murals that are painted on the walls of many of the buildings in the village. The village is filled with tourist shops, art galleries and cafes and is a very pleasant stop for lunch or a coffee, plus browsing at the lovely murals around town.

(Stay in Chemainus approximately 1 hour – 90 minutes)

Head back out of Chemainus along the same route that you entered the village. When you get to the highway turn right and drive for approximately 1 hour until you reach Nanaimo.  When you reach the outskirts of Nanaimo follow the directional signs that lead you along the “Inland Highway” (you will merge to the right about 1/km after you see a sign that welcomes you to Nanaimo “The Harbour City” and will follow the overpass up and over the highway you have just been traveling on).

Keep following the Inland Highway and, after approximately 30 minutes you will see directional signs pointing you to Parksville. Exit the Inland Highway and drive into Parksville where you can re-join the Island Highway which now becomes a scenic “seaside route” up to Qualicum Beach.

Parksville is a pretty little community and is very active in the summer months as there are a number of lovely sandy beaches here that are frequented by families who spend their summer vacations in Parksville.  The water here is warm and shallow so it is a great place for children to paddle and play.

Follow the Island Highway north out of Parksville and enjoy the short, 15 minute drive up to Qualicum Beach. At Qualicum Beach you can park along the waterfront and then stretch your legs with a stroll along the beach.  If you go into the village of Qualicum you’ll find tourist shops, restaurants, art galleries and museums.

After a full day of driving and sightseeing you will now be ready for the return journey to Victoria.  If you drive straight through it will take you approximately 3.5 hours to get back to the city (depending upon traffic, weather conditions etc.)

If you’re looking for a great place to stay we hope you’ll consider staying in one of our vacation rental apartments….click here for details City Life Suites