Now into the thawing months, Vancouver Island is awakening to spring and all that comes with it: returning wildlife, new festivals, and classic events.
In this edition of Island Moments, we share the raw and the cultured, the wild and the refined. We invite you to dive into lesser known facts around some of the species who call the Island home, and to start tuning your ear to the music festivals taking place throughout the season.
This fall, treat your taste buds to a gastronomical adventure on Vancouver Island. Discover delicious ingredients to showcase in your own kitchen, or dine out to enjoy local favourites expertly prepared with fresh ingredients and perfectly paired with Island flavours....
This fall, treat your taste buds to a gastronomical adventure on Vancouver Island. Discover delicious ingredients to showcase in your own kitchen, or dine out to enjoy local favourites expertly prepared with fresh ingredients and perfectly paired with Island flavours.
Shopping Al Fresco
Grab the sunblock, a reusable bag, and good walking shoes to explore the great selection of Farmers Markets available in the fall on Vancouver Island. Taste the fresh cheeses, locally grown and cured meats, and picked-this-morning vegetables. Homemade jams and jellies, pies and perogies, soaps and salves. There’s a delicious selection that varies between markets, with a shared theme that everything is made, grown, or baked by local vendors.
On the south end of the Island, the fall is filled with tasty Farmer and Artisan markets. The Bastion Square Market runs Sundays though September, and offers fresh and delicious flavours as well as an eclectic assortment of arts and crafts. The summer Market in Esquimalt is a community gathering point as well as a fresh produce market, and volunteers from the SPCA are available to watch your pup while you explore the various vendors. The Moss Street Market is the perfect spot to find all kinds of crafts – beeswax candles and bowls, ceramic dishes, gorgeous woodcraft, and more – as well as fresh fruits for the table at home and tasty treats to enjoy while you’re exploring this longstanding local favourite.
On Thursday nights through August, the community of Sidney, just north of Victoria, shuts down the main street to make room for the massive Sidney Street Market, a holiday highlight on Vancouver Island for over 17 years. The North Saanich Farm Market is another big event on the peninsula, open rain or shine every Saturday from June until October.
Salt Spring Island is a great getaway destination every day of the week, but on Saturdays there’s another reason to take the ferry. The famous Salt Spring Market features talented potters, jewellers, woodworkers, photographers, and other creative artists, with organic produce, farmhouse cheeses, and incredibly delicious homemade snacks and treats.
The Farmers Market in downtown Duncan is open year-round, and is a great way to spend a Saturday. Watch the jugglers, magicians, and dancers perform while you savour a slice of homemade bread topped with local butter. The Wednesday Market in Chemainus has something for everyone – fresh veggies, home baking, and even crafts for dogs. Spend a Sunday at the Farmers Market in Cobble Hill, testing the handcrafted lotion bars and soaps, arranging the perfect bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, and tasting absolutely everything, then head west to explore the great water and fresh, local flavours of the Lake Cowichan Farmers Market.
With three different Farmers Markets to choose from in Nanaimo, there are plenty of opportunities to taste the veggies, meats, and cheeses available in the hub of the Island.
Visit the Farmers and Artisan Market in Parksville to enjoy live music, fresh food, friendly people, and even a blacksmith demonstration. The Qualicum Beach Farmers Market offers package- and pesticide-free options that look amazing and taste incredible. The Farmers Market in Errington is a great way to stick to a 100-mile diet, with fresh farm produce, wine, plants, meats, and more.
The Tofino Market runs through the Thanksgiving weekend, and features fresh food and drinks, live entertainment, upcycled crafterpieces, and a great selection of artisan wares.
Wednesday mornings in the Comox Valley are filled with fresh poultry, pastries, fruits, and preserves, and local musicians creating a fun ambience, and the Pier Street Farmers Market in Campbell River runs every Sunday through September, delivering a great atmosphere with delicious food.
The North Island Farmers and Artisan Market might be small, but it has big flavours. Fresh eggs, veggies, and homemade pies, and a Fall Fair that’s fun for all. Located just under the Port McNeill Visitor Centre by the harbour.
In the communities of Vancouver Island, there’s a flavour-filled event just about every day of the week.
The Spice of Life
Amaze your guests with the brilliant flavours of your favourite dishes with spices and seasonings from the markets and farms of Vancouver Island: sea salt from the waters of Cowichan Bay, steak rubs made from locally grown spices, delicious sauces hand-crafted in small batches, fresh lavender and herbs, and more, fresh from the farm.
Uncork an Adventure
While the foods of Vancouver Island are amazing, the locally made wines, craft beers, crisp ciders, authentic meads, and artisanal spirits are simply fantastic.
Take a wine tour through the Cowichan Valley – with over forty different wineries, breweries, cideries, and meaderies in the region – to discover your favourite new vintage, or head to Courtenay-Comox to explore a brilliant selection of craft breweries. Jump on the ferry to tour the Gulf Islands and visit wineries with world-class offerings, then head back to Nanaimo to find another collection of delicious beverages, with four craft breweries and two wineries to visit.
Spin away the kilometers on a multi-day guided bike tour of Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Quadra Island, stopping to enjoy fresh blueberries, local wines, and a fire-side feast on the beach, or take a self-guided tour from Victoria to Cowichan Valley, enjoying fresh baked goods, ice cream, homemade cheeses and bike-friendly B&Bs.
In the southern region of the Island, you will find an amazing variety of your favourite refreshments: dry ciders in Sidney, rich merlots in Brentwood Bay, sweet meads in Sooke, cold-aged pilsners right downtown, and cocktails made with artisanal spirits and presented with local flair. And so much more. Whether it’s the Island’s people or the water – or both – you’ll find everything tastes better when you have a drink in your hand.
Festivals of Flavour
You don’t need a reason to celebrate being on Vancouver Island, but if you’re looking for an excuse, you can explore the West Coast Edible Garden Tours in Tofino and Ucluelet, to see, learn, and taste the inspiration in local gardens, or head up to the Campbell River Salmon Festival to watch the Logging Sports challenge and enjoy the salmon barbeque.
For your favourite refreshments, there’s a wine and beer tasting festival on Galiano Island with unlimited tasting included in the admission, and proceeds help the Galiano Island Health Care Centre serve the community.
An always popular annual event in Victoria is the Great Canadian Beer fest, Canada’s longest-running beer festival. Featuring craft and microbreweries from across the country as well as some states, and like-minded beer aficionados, this event is always a hit. And no matter what you’re celebrating in Victoria, the Food Trucks at the Royal BC Museum courtyard have something to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
August and September on the Island is the right time of year to taste many local favourites: fresh fruit – including peaches and pears, blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberries will be on many menus, adding a delicious richness to sweet and savoury dishes. Root and leafy vegetables make the perfect side or entrée, and the biggest, tastiest Chinook salmon seem to be caught in August. The Island is delicious all year long, but there’s something special about the flavours found at the end of summer.
Flavour is everywhere on Vancouver Island, from quick-service food trucks to white-glove service. Socialize with the community at a beach barbeque, or make any occasion special with a candlelit dinner overlooking the ocean. Crack a cold one with the boys or sip a fresh smoothie with your friends. Whatever your taste, you’ll find the best of everything on Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island is consistently named as one of the best places in the province to catch salmon. With over 3,400km (2,138 miles) of coastline, there’s a saltwater fishing adventure anywhere you go. Whether it’s the excellent and experienced guides, the clean and clear waters, or the tropical climate, there’s a trophy out there just waiting for you to lure onto the line....
Vancouver Island is consistently named as one of the best places in the province to catch salmon. With over 3,400km (2,138 miles) of coastline, there’s a saltwater fishing adventure anywhere you go. Whether it’s the excellent and experienced guides, the clean and clear waters, or the tropical climate, there’s a trophy out there just waiting for you to lure onto the line.
Throughout the Island, professional guides can hook you up with everything you need for a great day on the water, and local outfitters have the equipment you need if you’re striking out on your own.
Set out from one of the marinas of Greater Victoria to troll for salmon, jig for halibut, or cast for cod. Or head out on the calm waters of Finlayson Arm and Brentwood bay to trap some prawns and crab. Jordan River and Port Renfrew have plenty of productive spots to reel in a big one, and in Tofino and Ucluelet you’ll find outstanding offshore, inshore, and freshwater fishing.
Campbell River has earned a global reputation for producing huge salmon – including the elusive Tyee – and Port McNeill, Port Hardy, and Port Alice have everything you need to try your luck with all five varieties of Pacific salmon migrating through the Queen Charlotte Strait.
Freshwater fishing is fantastic year-round, but in the fall it’s exceptional: bass are biting, trout are hitting hard, and the summer-run of steelhead offers some of the best angling of your life. With over 10,000 lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the region, the toughest decision is choosing what to fish for.
Fishing and More
Relax and recharge at one of the Island’s many dedicated fishing resorts, where you can catch your limit in the morning and then have lunch on a glacier; watch the grizzly bears gorge themselves on salmon; or simply relax in the spa. Enjoy a full luxury package in Brentwood Bay, Tofino, or Campbell River, or fly or sail into a remote resort in the Nootka Sound, Knight Inlet, or Nimmo Bay.
If you love fresh fish but aren’t a fan of catching it, you’ll never get skunked at the restaurants around the Island. Watch the sun go down as you enjoy a perfectly baked salmon paired with a delicious local Pinot Blanc, or savour the flavour of a fish taco washed down with a watermelon-basil freshie as you enjoy the sunset with someone special
Show your commitment to the beaches and waters of Vancouver Island by helping to keep them clean with the monthly Surfrider Beach Clean Up: join the community members and volunteers as we comb and clean Cadboro Bay Beach in August and Gonzales Beach in September.
Fly-fishing, spin casting, trolling, jigging, or however you like to do get your line wet, you’ll find the fall fishing opportunities on Vancouver Island to be out of this world.
If fishing is your element, you’ll catch your limit on Vancouver Island.
throughout Vancouver Island