Tide Pools, Woods, and Waterfalls: Nanoose Bay BC Canada
Driftwood and Entire-Leaved Gumweed
The coastal tide pools of Nanoose Bay, on the protected east coast of Vancouver Island, are a unique ecosystem and still home to clumps of grindelia integrifolia, or entire-leaved gumweed, which nestle on the rocky beaches in the shelter of washed-up drift wood.
There is something invigorating about tall trees, a mountain backdrop, and ocean breezes.
It is always a pleasure exploring the woods and waters on and around Vancouver Island, on the West Coast of Canada. My husband and I return regularly to our favourite walking and sailing places, but we also try to explore some new terrain on each visit.
Recently, during a summer stay in Nanoose Bay – a small community on the east coast of Vancouver Island overlooking the waters of the Strait of Georgia – we decided to play proper tourists, and let some local experts show us the sights. We signed ourselves onto the Monday afternoon “Parksville Qualicum Beach Treasures Tour” with the locally run and operated Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours.
It was a good decision: local knowledge makes the ‘wild’ much more accessible. Our guide for the afternoon was owner-operator Gary Murdock, an ex-Forest Technician and local conservationist who knows where all the natural treasures are, and who had no trouble answering any of the questions we could pose.
Join us for an easy day of short walks.
Rocks on Craig Bay
When my husband and I stay at our usual accommodation near Nanoose Bay on BC’s temperate Vancouver Island, we make of point of enjoying a morning walk around the rocky tide pools of Craig Bay.
… and through the overhanging Garry oaks (Quercus garryana) along the Craig Creek Estuary.
Brickyard Community Park
Although the waterfront is dotted with resorts and high-end housing, there are also several reserves and parks that everyone can enjoy. Even though I’ve checked out the Tourist Information and regional maps many times, we had never visited these particular parks before.
Himalayan Blackberry Leaf (Rubus Armeniacus) on the Foreshore
Brickyard Community Park is a tiny five-acre (2 hectare) chunk of rocky outcrop nestled amongst the expensive waterfront homes perched on the cliffs on either side.
People on the Point
The rock bluffs of Brickyard Community Park allow spectacular views over the Winchelsea Islands …
Sailboat in the Winchelsea Islands
… and to snowcapped mountains on the mainland across the Strait of Georgia.
Gary with his Spotting Scope
Our local guide sets up his spotting scope to check out the seals and otters in the bay.
Back up the Path
The group heads back up the trail to the the van, through the towering Douglas firs, …
Vanilla Leaf (Achlys Triphylla)
… and past lush, sweet smelling native vanilla leaf …
Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus Armeniacus)
… and the pretty blossoms of the invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes.
Guide Gary in the Woods
At our next stop, Beachcomber Community Park, Gary points out a eagle’s nest …
Eagle Babies in the Nest
… high in the trees over our heads.
Douglas firs can grow to between 20–100 metres (70–330 ft) tall; I have no idea how tall this one is, …
… but even with a zoom lens and a crop, the baby eagles – already with deadly-looking beaks – are a long way off!
Bald Eagle in the Trees
Clearly, however, we are close enough! One of the parents keeps watch from a perch nearby.
Crazy Coastal Pacific Madrone (Arbutus Menziesii)
The trunks and branches of these Northwest native evergreens twist crazily against the coastal winds.
Beachcomber Community Park Foreshore
From the rocky shoreline of Beachcomber Community Park, the privately-owned Mistaken Island is so close you can almost touch it.
The elaborate driftwood washed up on the shoreline gives a clue to the “Beachcomber” name.
Our next stop – at the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery – is in the middle of the kind of pastoral growing country that supports a working dairy farm: …
… a dairy farm with a sense of humour. And, they make great cheese. We picked up a few treats for dinner.
Bridge over the Englishman River Falls
Our last stop for the afternoon is at Englishman River, where we cross the river …
Englishman River Falls
… and get a good view over Upper Englishman River Falls, where the waters cascade …
Englishman River Canyon
… into a deep and rugged canyon below.
In the evening, we enjoyed another glorious sunset …
Sunset over Craig Bay
… over the waters and rocks of Craig Bay.
With drinks in hand, we sat watching the sun set over the tall trees and tide pools of Vancouver Island; a perfect ending to a lovely day in one of my favourite places.
We hope to get back there one day soon.