We know that for some of you, we’ve been a bit out of reach, and while there’s been a lot of change for us all, some of our locals have stepped up to open their doors for the very first time. In the spirit of the clock turning over another year, we’re looking back at all of the openings on Vancouver Island. In 2021, we welcomed a whole host of new restaurants, experiences, and products for visiting guests.
If you’re returning to Vancouver Island for the first time in a while, here’s a guide to a few things you may not yet have on your list.
Victoria & Cowichan
Expect to delight your palate in Victoria this year: experimental brews have been transplanted from Vancouver and are paired with elevated curly fries at Superflux Cabana, while schnitzel and pretzels at Eva Schnitzelhaus give you all the sense of a European après without donning any skis. Bicycle Pizza will become your new go to for both fresh and frozen, locally made pies.
When you’re ready to head out on an adventure, climb up the spiral route of the Malahat Skywalk to soak in views of the Finlayson Arm.
SNEAK PEEK: Coming in 2022
We couldn’t resists adding a short coming soon note. Travellers to Victoria will soon be able to take a dip at the new Ritual Nordic Spa. With a full circuit, including a cold plunge, Ritual has us excited to make the polar dip a regular occasion.
Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum Beach
By all accounts, Nanaimo has had a banner year for the new kids on the block, not to mention the entrepreneurs opening up second locations. The hub city has new spots to grab a cup of coffee, slices of pizza, and even a fern for your home office. Stretch your skills and arms at RavenWood Boulders, where they’re setting new routes and scoring goals in foosball. Make sure to head over to Gabriola too, for a burger on the beach.
It’s not surprising this cafe overlooks the wide beach and ocean tides; diners can nosh on a seafood tower and other West Coast inspired treats, whether or not they’re guests at the Qualicum Beach Inn.
Fern & Cedar opened in December of this year, and in just a couple of weeks they’re making their mark: sample the Ripening Saison for a fresh, black currant take on the farmer’s favourite. The locals will be the first to tell you that the menu is a bit of a homecoming: Fern & Cedar’s kitchen is spearheaded by Chef Michael Sproul, of Bread & Honey fame. It’s evident in the quality and flavour of this gastropub menu.
The Comox Valley never ceases to offer an impressive roster of quick bites that leave a lasting impression. New food trucks and take out, coffee classics, and of course a fresh slice. When you’re done eating for the day, spend the night glamping lakeside and start your day with a sauna at Smith Lake Farm.
Tofino has long been heralded as a destination for next level cuisine. Roar Tofino takes the open fire concept and applies it to every dish, including a smoked watermelon, while Jeju takes up the mantle of exquisite Korean dishes. En route to the West Coast, make sure to pop into the redesigned Riverbend Cafe, home to local provisions and a menu of snacks and espresso.
At the heart of each one of the North Island’s openings are the locals that know the secret behind area: it’s a basecamp for all the wild adventures you could ask for. Now the list grows of places to rest up between hikes and whale watching outings.
See us in a new light this year with all the new experiences in our region. Need a hand planning your trip? Check out places to rest your head, or take a look at some of our trip ideas.
Are you a new business that opened on VI this year? Flip us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to the list.