Edmonton to Comox 5 Day Itinerary
When the heady days of summer withdraw and the air develops a slight bite...
... it’s never time to hunker down in the Comox Valley, instead in many ways the region transforms into a calmer cousin of its summer self. With vast forests and wild coastline bordering the three communities, the Valley offers an outdoors lover's sanctuary but with small town charm with big town amenities, and unique experiences aplenty.
Temperate coastal temperatures extend the outdoor season year in year out, meaning nearly all of the high-summer activities and highlights are still thriving, just with less competition. With its easy to reach location, connected with the Comox International Airport, booking a multi-day getaway is simple, and entices many from out of province and internationally. A non-stop route between Edmonton International Airport (YEG) and Comox (YQQ) makes for an easy escape with as many as three flights daily, two of which have no stops. Deciding what to fit in whilst visiting can prove a headache, however. Thankfully we’ve put together a 4.5 day example itinerary to excite and delight.
Friday - Settle In
It’s your Friday - you’re already on island time.
Firstly, make sure you’re early to Edmonton International Airport, for your 4:10pm departure with WestJet, this service runs September and October and switches to an earlier 4pm departure for November. YEG’s website suggests turning up at least 1.5 hours before domestic departures. Don’t forget the handy one hour time reclaim when crossing into the PST time zone - touching down to Comox International at 4:50pm local time. Our example itinerary is only a loose basis, so if you’re all for a later departure - make it happen!
Traveling onwards from the airport is easily completed with a range of options. Pick up a rental car that’s priced at comparative market pricing, organised ahead of time or through the desk located inside the airport from National, Budget and Enterprise, booking early will enable getting the best deal. Riding via taxi is also simple with Comox Taxi, Ambassador Taxi or Joe’s Taxi. BC Transit also poses an option with a bus network servicing Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland, change in downtown Courtenay for farther afield destinations.
It’s a good idea to read up on your destination a little before you arrive too.
If being centrally located to all the many activities and experiences the Valley offers sounds reasonable, then both the Bayview Hotel in Courtenay and the nearby Westerly, Best Western will fit the bill. For this itinerary these excellent options will be the basis of daily start and finish points.
The Bayview brings comfort in droves, with spacious clean and stylish rooms. Unwind with their facilities including a whirlpool and indoor swimming pool, or workout in their 24 hour fitness centre, as well as great dining facilities.
The Westerly has clean, comfortable suites, with a convenient location. It’s close to local dining as well as offering its own dining, and has an on-site fitness centre.
If luxury figures highly amongst your ideals then the Crown Isle Resort, with its highly rated greens and restaurant, will check the boxes.
The quaint town of Comox and rustic village of Cumberland both have options through airbnb, with beautiful properties available, each unique and memorable.
Many accommodation options are available, the above are only a selection for the sake of this itinerary.
You’ve arrived at your blissful hotel, it’s time to unpack, acclimatize and unwind. You’ve made it! Dinner is now on the cards, thankfully nearby in downtown Courtenay are some sumptuous options. Il Falcone, at the far end of centrally located 6th street, serves exquisite Italian dishes paired with a wine menu that’s curated especially. The friendly and knowledgeable staff advise and enable all Italo-cuisine lovers. Delight in house made pasta, local seafood, salads and more. Reserve ahead of time. Alternatively, if wishing to sample some of that fabled BC Asian fare, Nikkei Ramen Ya on 5th street is a satisfying option, offering comforting portions of noodle soup.
Saturday - Bogies and the Boardwalk
A rested night in your cushty lodgings now behind you, it’s time to feed up before a day on the fairway and exploring some of Comox. All the hotels mentioned above provide an on-site breakfast, but heading out to explore options in town also makes perfect sense. Shone's Cafe, located in Downtown Courtenay, offers an array of warm and cold drinks and food to suit your needs.
Before heading to your day on the green, be sure to swing by the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market in Courtenay, it’s held at the Exhibition Grounds until October 9th as an open air market, and then switches to the historic Native Sons Hall in downtown Courtenay from October 14th onwards. Here you can find a cross section of the many artisans, makers and bakers of the Comox Valley. Scoop some local farm fresh produce, taste honey, find newly foraged mushrooms or pick up a keepsake from your time here.
Golf tops many peoples’ lists of things to do in the Comox Valley, and for good reason. There’s an impressive 6 golf courses to find in this one region, catering to every difficulty level. It would be negligent not to feature the top rated PGA level course pristinely kept at the Crown Isle Resort. This 18 hole course will satisfy all levels of golfer, boasting an immaculate fairway with astounding views of the Comox glacier and Beaufort mountain range. This renowned course also has a grandeur clubhouse to enjoy. Whereas the Glacier Greens golf course in Comox delivers a challenging 18 holes with spectacular views to savour, be sure to watch for wandering deer! Breaking for lunch at the conclusion of hole 9 seems reasonable.
If pitched up at Crown Isle, sampling the delicious meals offered from the Timber Room Bar & Grill is a must. This stylish airy restaurant serves delicious gastro-pub favourites to quell any hunger. Glacier Greens offers wholesome grilled handhelds at Red’s Place Bar & Grill. If vacating the course for a moment is more your scene, Land & Sea Brewing is equidistant from both courses and has a much loved menu featuring generous sharers, Asian influenced dishes and handhelds.
After the18th hole, there's local chances to enjoy a late afternoon activity that fits with the easygoing pace of the day. Head into Comox, rolling up at the Comox Marina. This delightful seaside locale is loved by many, providing space for events and a pleasant lawn for laying a blanket. The boardwalk, however, is a key reason too. Make sure to wander all the way to the end for unforgettable mountain-meets-ocean views, or simply to watch small trawlers arrive back from a day’s catch or see float planes land. Your attention at this point may be turning to your stomach, thankfully Comox has some notable options.
A short walk from the marina brings you to Martine’s Bistro, this inviting intimate restaurant offers local seafood and farm to fork dishes. The view over the marina you’ve just explored is a nice touch, and a fine way to round out the day. Similarly the Blackfin Pub, has exceptional elevated views over the ocean and of the mountains. This Comox institution offers classics, cocktails and a selection of drinks. Looking for something more casual? Boonie's Pizza is a locally owned joint with delicious, sourdough pizza crust baked to perfection in a wood fired oven.
Sunday - Getting Above it All
Either grab a satisfying breakfast at the hotel or make your way to downtown Courtenay to the renowned Bigfoot Donuts, where you’re completely within your right to have one of their legendary donuts for breakfast, but the real fuel for the day is going to come from their fantastic breakfast sandwiches. Engage your taste buds with these succulent handhelds. Today you’ll need to take lunch to go so dart over a block to Old Farm Market, a grocery store that prides itself on locally sourced ingredients. Here, either gather makings for an on-the-go picnic or head to their deli counter for a selection of tasty travel-ready foods. It’s time to ascend!
The wilderness that makes the Comox Valley is vast and perhaps best represented when ascending to the Mt. Washington area, which can be reached via car in only 30 minutes from downtown Courtenay. You’ll need chains in your trunk if tackling this November onwards. In the winter it’s of course a mecca for snowsports, but before the snow has arrived (in December usually) exploration on foot is encouraged. Fall is perfect in a sense, as you don’t have to compete with the heat and bugs have largely disappeared too. Hiking remains perhaps the best way to truly connect with the wild, and with a network of trails beginning at the Paradise Meadows trailhead that take in serene lakes, wild forest and vast viewpoints alike.
Ensure you’ve got the correct gear for the day, have a trail map on hand and tell your hotel concierge where you’re headed. Also ensure you’ve packed that lunch you picked up, but remember to leave no trace! There’s an easy boardwalk hike in the Paradise Meadows Loop, only 3.4km all in, or there’s farther, more challenging hikes like Helen Lake Mackenzie to Battleship Lake Loop (8.2km). And the longer still - Lake Helen McKenzie to Kwai Lake to Croteau Lake Loop (15.6km). Your day in the mountains will live long in the memory. The views on a clear day, from the drive up alone, are breathtaking.
Arriving back to your hotel it’s important to recharge before seeking some dinner. Take a moment to sit, read, unwind.
Only a short walk from both the Courtenay hotels listed is Locals, one of the Valley’s finest restaurants, where reservations are encouraged. The seafood and fine farm to table dishes are all made using local ingredients, a curated seasonal menu is paired intricately with the cocktails and wine offerings. If after something easier, head to Gladstone Brewing and choose from handhelds and Mexi-fusion delights, not to mention their provincially award winning line-up of craft brews.
Monday - Cumberland Calling
After the activity of yesterday you’re owed a sleep in. Kick it back in your room or hotel complex, relish in the stripped-back Valley pace. Once awake and ready, grab a breakfast in-hotel or make moves to the much adored Tin Town Cafe, here choose fresh breakfast items such as freshly baked croissants, tarts, cereals and barista brewed coffee. Next, shuffle a small distance to Honey Grove Bakery - they’re fine bakers of sourdough bread creations, savory pastries, sweet treats and truly delicious flatbreads - grab something to go for lunch, your day in Cumberland will require it. From here it’s less than 10 minutes on the road.
Making time for a wander through Cumberland is wise. This old mining community is distinctly unique and celebrates its differences with panache. Spread across it’s central Dunsmuir Avenue and surrounding streets are independent businesses. Visiting Moons Records is a must. Dig through crates of records, admire local art, skateboards, merch and curios. It’s difficult not to love the place and its friendly staff. Ensure you visit the Waverely Hotel, if not for a show, on this village walk. This time-honoured venue has a charming wood clad hall, a vestige of the mining days.
Cumberland isn’t known just for culture and curiosity it’s proudly an outdoors enthusiasts’ fantasy too. In a true ‘choose your own ending’ scenario, it’s possible to take your day to level 11 or to keep things subdued, or something in between.
If seeking an adrenaline spike mountain biking reigns supreme in Cumberland, especially in the Fall, where less people on the trails means more speed and more send! A vast sprawling network of trails back on to the village. Hire a bike and protective gear from Beaufort Cycles, and make sure to get the lowdown on the trail system, remember a GPS, water, and your lunch!
If seeking activity that’s dialed back the same trails are suitable for hiking, be as prepared as you were in approaching Mt. Washington’s backcountry, as using trails, and being in forested areas means being wildlife aware and courteous in leaving no trace.
Lastly, if scenery and relaxing is your go-to, just a 6 minute drive from the village brings you to the Comox Lake, this kidney shaped glacial fed lake foots the vast Strathcona Park beyond. Pleasant sand beaches of the recreation area, and picnic areas, provide a perfect setting for absorbing the beauty. If feeling brave, jump in for a swim! In early Fall SUP and kayak hire is still available throughout the Valley. When taking to the water, exercise water safety, and beware of conditions.
After the delights of Cumberland, it's time to head back to the hotel and take it back down a notch. If there’s still energy to expend, the two Courtenay hotels we mentioned are perfectly placed for a relaxed stroll on the Air Park Loop Walk. It's a flat 4km paved path that takes you right alongside the scenic Courtenay river estuary and around the small airfield, watch for numerous breeds of bird including waders and herons. You can even spot ancient indigenous fishing traps when the tide's low.
Tuesday - Museum and the Falls
Breakfast at your hotel will always be a great option, and it’s convenient. However, if seeking a breakfast out and about the Early Bird Cafe in Courtenay remains a firm favourite, with brunch regulars like eggs benny and omelette to satisfy big appetites. Frankie Jo’s is another option with warm cinnamon buns that linger long in the memory, or sandwiches to excite the palate alongside an excellent coffee pour.
Take a moment after breakfast to walk off the carbs. Downtown Courtenay has an array of stores, cafes and art studios to peruse along quaint 5th street and its surrounding streets. Courtenay Museum has a generous amount of exhibits under its roof, formerly the mail office. Find out about the birth of the township and its pioneer roots as a logging community, the indigenous that long called the Valley home before European settlement. And learn about the exciting paleontological finds in the area, brought to life with several full scale fossils.
A fulfilling lunch in downtown Courtenay comes in the form of the Butcher’s Block and their renowned deli sandwiches, from beef brisket, turkey clubs and Cuban BBQ pork. All of their produce is procured locally. These sandwiches are perfect for grabbing to go, or for enjoying on a bench by the scenic riverway across the 5th street bridge at Lewis Park. Cakebread Artisan Bakery is another fabulous choice for sandwiches, with vegetarian options and pastries too, it’s adjoined to Chocolates which as the name suggests is the place to find confection.
A short drive from Courtnenay’s downtown brings you to Nymph Falls. This nature park is much adored locally in every season, the Spring sees people watch the rise in rapids and water levels, the Summer sees people swim in the slower pools and the Fall brings the salmon and amber leaves! The easy trail networks intertwine through second growth forests and hug the river in places. Enjoy the rapids, where eagles often soar overhead, and come October and November the salmon make their yearly migration upstream. Here, and at Puntledge Park in Courtenay, are fine places to watch this incredible sight of nature.
Tonight’s meal will live long in the memory, the Kingfisher resort is only a 10 minute drive south of Courtenay and offers luxurious rooms and a spa too. The restaurant on-site, Ocean 7, is also held in high regard. Find a curated menu of west coast culinary delights, sea food, farm to fork creations and cocktails or wine pairings. The location is spectacular with ocean views. Reservations are encouraged.
Enjoy nature before seamless travel
It may be your last day but there’s no need to feel rushed or do the dreaded countdown. Instead take your time, your return flights aren’t until 4pm for September/October travel or 5:50pm if traveling in November. Grab your last hotel breakfast, or head to the always delicious Hen & Hog Cafe for brunch favourites that are routinely perfected. All the accommodation options provided have safe luggage storage, so when checkout is due there's an option for these pieces.
A short 15 minute drive brings you to Seal Bay Nature Park, this second growth park is a 1,600 acre second growth forest meets ocean wonder. The many intertwining trails that make up this park are walkable or ridable via bike or horse, you can expect to see few people as the park is so extensive. The easterly edge of Seal Bay has a wild coastline; a pebble beach with trees spilling onto its shoreline. Here you can see wildlife - seals, sea lions, eagles, several bird species and even whales. As the park is so big, it’s wise to pre plan a section to explore, the section east of the Bates Road parking is popular as it leads to the beach. Autumnal colour changes only add to the tranquility.
A 13 minute drive to Comox will bring you to Church St Taphouse, this taproom is ever popular amongst locals and visitors alike, with a stacked BC craft beer selection that rotates, alongside ciders and wines. The food menu is a step up from what you may expect, with large handhelds and Asian fusion options. If there is any time after, be sure to wander Comox’s pretty downtown, where cafes, trinket stores and curios await.
At this point you’ll want to head back to your hotel to collect your luggage, or if you’ve stored it in your car trunk, make your way to the airport when the time calls for it.
Comox international Airport advises you to arrive at least 90 minutes ahead of your scheduled flight so allow time to reach the departure lounge, and return your rental vehicle if applicable. Rental car returns are easily processed at the airport. The same taxi services - Comox Taxi, Ambassador Taxi or Joe’s Taxi, will happily get you to your take-off in time. BC transit also services the airport.
If leaving on the September/Ocrober’s 4pm flight you’ll arrive back to Edmonton International Airport at 5:50pm, November’s later 5:40pm departure has you arrive at 8:10pm. Take time on the flight to reminisce on a truly memorable time.
The above itinerary aims to be a loose basis for a trip, so days are interchangeable, flight times can also be altered in line with preferred days of travel.