Take the Traveller Quiz Super, Natural British Columbia

The Oceanside Route of Highway 19A is a slower trek compared to its sister highway, but it’s a seamless fit with its surroundings. From oceanside ribbons of road to stretches through valleys and over tall peaks, the Oceanside Route between Nanaimo and Campbell River is a quieter, more nature-focused journey.

You’ll start this Vancouver Island road trip by ferrying over to Nanaimo, where you can set up a basecamp before you get started. It’s just the first stop on a list of quaint, beachfront towns on the road that hugs the coast, swoops over through the Comox Valley, then loops back ocean-side after Oyster River. As you near Campbell River, the vistas start to grow towards the sky, and nearby Strathcona Park is home to the tallest mountain on the island.

The travel time between your start and finish is just under three hours, making it a leisurely afternoon drive or a paced day trip with pit stops.

Part 1

Nanaimo to Parksville

37 km | 36 mins

Take your time in Nanaimo to explore this harbour city – by foot or via bike. Nanaimo is the third-oldest city in BC and offers the history buff endless opportunities to explore its heritage – from fascinating walking tours to the renowned  Nanaimo Museum.

If you feel like you need that extra little push, we recommend hopping over to BCeBike to pick up an ebike rental. This is a great way to cruise around the downtown Waterfront district, catch some great ocean views and fill your lungs with fresh air before you climb into the car for your trip. 

Setting out from Nanaimo, head off oceanside on Highway 19A towards Parksville (about a 40-minute drive). Take a quick detour into this quaint oceanside town and beach holiday destination, and if you have time to spare, we recommend checking out Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf – a must-see stop if you’re with the family. Here, you can enjoy miniature golf, plays some games in the arcade or kick off a game of laser bumper cars. If you are staying overnight check into Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort for a relaxing and comfortable stay on the water.

Charging stations:

  • Parksville Civic and Technology Centre, 100 Jensen Avenue East
  • Parksville Community Park 193 Beachside Drive Parksville BC
  • The Beach Club Resort 181 Beachside Drive Parksville
  • Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort 1155 Resort Way Parksville

Must Stop Spots

Where to Stay

Part 2

Parksville to Courtenay & Comox

82 km | 45 mins

From Parksville, you’ll pass through several West Coast seaside towns, each with a personality of its own. Take your pick as your traverse through Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay (where you can travel via ferry to Denman Island), Union Bay and Royston. 

Before long you’ll enter into the city of Courtenay – a destination perfect for hiking, beachcombing and even wine tasting (the Comox Valley is home to four wineries, three microbreweries and two distilleries). For a cultural experience in town, pay a visit to the I-HOS Gallery to explore traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast artwork. 

Courtenay’s walkable downtown is also just a quick drive to Mount Washington Alpine Resort – offering fantastic skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and a bike park in the summer.

Charging stations:

  • Best Western – The Westerly Hotel, 1590 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay
  • Wayward Distillation House, 2931 Moray Avr, Courtenay
  • Comox Valley Nissan, 535 Silverdale Crescent, Courtenay
  • Comox Valley Visitor Centre, Small Rd, Courtenay

Must Stop Spots

Where to Stay

Part 3

Courtenay to Campbell River

48.3 km | 30 mins

After a quick stretch of road on Highway 19A (North Island Highway) that takes you inland, you’ll be back on the beautiful coastline and cruising towards your final destination. You may stop midway through this stretch of the drive to explore Miracle Beach – offering a series of trails through lush forest and a sandy beach. If you catch it on a busy day, consider trying Saratoga Beach just next door.

Before too long you will reach Campbell River, the mecca for outdoor adventure on land and at sea. You’ll know you’re close when you catch sight of Quadra Island on your right-hand side. Campbell River (or “The River” as the locals call it) offers an endless list of outdoor activities and attractions for all to enjoy. For a truly Canadian wilderness adventure, Discovery Marine Safaris will take you out on a comfortable 40ft cruiser to view killer whales, follow dolphins or view grizzlies from the water.

For fresh air on land, set off on a scavenger hunt to explore Campbell River’s Drifted Creations Sculptures – spotted throughout the town and nearby areas, these sculptures by Alex Whitcombe are inspired by their surroundings and created using the driftwood that covers Campbell River’s beaches. If the weather is encouraging you inside, you can’t go wrong at the Campbell River Museum where you can learn about the people, events and experiences that build the local community. Wrap up your road trip by exploring interactive exhibits, learning about the Indigenous history of the area and viewing historical films at this must-see destination. 

Charging stations:

  • Campbell River Visitor Information Centre in Tyee Plaza (1101 – 1299 Shoppers Row)
  • Dogwood Operations Centre (385 South Dogwood Street)
  • North Island College (1685 South Dogwood Street)
  • Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre Gas Bar (1416 Island Highway)
  • Campbell River Hyundai (1853 Meredith Road)
  • Campbell River Toyota (2785 North Island Highway)
  • Steve Marshall Ford (2300 North Island Highway)
  • Campbell River Community Centre (401 – 11th Avenue)

Must Stop Spots

Nanaimo

Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Nanaimo Museum

100 Museum Way, Nanaimo, BC

Parksville

Parksville, BC, Canada

Tigh Na Mara

1155 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC

Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort

1175 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC

Riptide Lagoon Adventure Park

1000 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC

Parksville

Parksville, BC, Canada

Courtenay

Courtenay, BC, Canada

I-Hos Gallery

3310 Comox Rd, Courtenay, BC

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa

https://www.kingfisherspa.com/

Old House Resort & Spa

1730 Riverside Ln, Courtenay, BC

Courtenay

Courtenay, BC, Canada

Campbell River

Campbell River, BC, Canada

Discovery Marine Safaris

104-909 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC

Museum at Campbell River

470 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC

Get Inspiration for Your Campbell River Road Trip