We decided that we had had enough of the winter weather in Toronto. This year has been particularly bad for snow, freezing rain and below freezing temperatures, so we made our escape to our favourite beach house on Vancouver Island. We had spent a week there last summer and could not forget how much fun we had, while staying there. We knew that the weather would be much milder than in Toronto and we needed a break. The island days were much warmer so I did not need to wear boots, hats or scarves for the entire week.
The beach house is nestled in a quiet strip of land on the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. We have relatives and friends living a few minutes away, in Courtenay, so we visit with them during our stay.
There is something remarkable about waking up to the view of the ocean right outside your door. Even in winter, it can be good for your soul. We did; however; have a couple of days where the fog set in and we could not see the water that was only across the street. We walked over and watched the ducks and gulls floating softly on the water. It was almost as if they had also come to the beach for refuge.
I love spending my vacation days sourcing out new and interesting places to eat. One of those days we tried a little spot for breakfast in Courtenay that turned out to be a real treasure. The Ohhh So Yummy Cafe at 1190 Cliffe Ave. sits in front of the Comox Valley Inn, but is independently run.
It is one of those truly special breakfast places that serve up memories on a plate. You may have to line up to get in but it would be worth the wait. I had a special Eggs Benedict that was served with roasted yams, feta and grilled mushrooms. The owner talked me into trying the hollandaise sauce with a hint of curry. The combination of the yams and the curry was extraordinary!
Another day we decided to explore Qualicum Beach which is father south on the coast. We spent a leisurely afternoon exploring shops and antique stores then decided to head north on the Old Island Highway. We found a rather unique spot just outside of town called the Shady Waterfront Restaurant, Pub, and Liquor Store.
It was time for dinner and we were intrigued by the combination of pub, liquor store and restaurant so we stopped to check it out. The place, built in 1924, was run by 3 generations of the Kinkade family over a 61 year period. In 1985 Wane Duncan, a restaurateur from Victoria bought the business and has run it ever since. It is a favourite of the locals for its casual, welcoming atmosphere and breathtaking views.
The rustic pub sits at the water’s edge with a bank of windows facing the spectacular beach that runs the full length of the dining room. The menu looked like a list of every comfort food you could imagine from fresh oysters and pot roast to schnitzel and ribs. Many of the dishes were made with local fish, oysters, meat and produce from the area. The striploin sandwich served on a garlic focaccia with tomato confit and a mound of beer battered onion rings was like a marriage of comfort food and modern bistro cuisine.
After wandering around downtown Courtenay we stopped in at the Cardero Coffee and Tea Company on 5th St. for a latte and a snack. We tried the signature Cardero Latte flavoured with hazelnuts along with a strawberry tart. The latte was rich and creamy and nutty, all at once. If you ever find yourself in Courtenay on a Saturday I suggest you have breakfast at Ohhh So Yummy, followed by a trip to the local farmer’s market and a latte at Cardero’s.
No trip to the island would be complete without a drive to Campbell River. There are wonderful water walks and parks along the sea wall that go on for miles and the views are spectacular. We were lucky to hit it on a clear and beautiful day.
I loved walking along the waterfront while soaking up the sun. I cannot wait to return to Vancouver Island for another adventure.