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Vancouver Island three ways

Alyssa Schwartz – The Globe & Mail

May 2, 2016

Vancouver Island three ways

Many destinations promise something for every type of traveller. But few places deliver the breadth of Vancouver Island. At 32,000 square kilometres – about half the size of Lake Huron – the island offers towering waterfalls and spruce trees, sandy beaches, skiing and surfing, plus a remarkable concentration of distillers, brewers, coffee roasters and other artisanal products. Whatever your pleasure, here’s the ultimate island getaway for you.

Locavore paradise: Comox Valley

The fertile valley below Mount Washington – which, by the way, boasts some of the deepest snow in the country during ski season – offers a veritable feast of options for food-loving visitors. Just 15 kilometres wide, it packs nearly 450 farms, making it easy to see how the region got its name: “Komuckway” is the Kwak’wala word for “land of plenty.”

Getting there: Comox is reachable by plane (Air Canada offers connections via Vancouver, while WestJet has daily service from Calgary and Edmonton) as well as via ferry from Powell River. It’s just more than an hour’s drive from Nanaimo and 21/2 hours from Victoria.

What to do: The ample locally-produced eats in Comox Valley make the notion of the 100-mile diet seem positively global. Open year-round, theComox Valley Farmers’ Market was named the best in the province by the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets. Stop in Saturdays and Wednesdays to find local honeys, wines from 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery andHornby Island Estate Winery and Farm, handmade truffles, small-batch yogurts and more. Seafood lovers should consider timing their visit to the B.C. Shellfish Festival, held every June. It’s 11 days of chowder cook-offs, shucking competitions, tastings, gala dinners and oyster farm visits.

Where to stay: Situated on the Courtenay River, The Old House Hotel and Spa is a close walk to downtown Courtenay’s best restaurants and food shops. From $96 a night.

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