Have a few nights to explore Vancouver Island? Travel up the east coast of the island from Nanaimo to Miracle Beach. Rather than taking the faster Highway 19, this itinerary will have you winding your way along the coast, by the beaches and through the small villages on Highway 19A. 

Day one: First things first. Catch a ferry from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay (whichever is closest to you) and head for Nanaimo. The ferry cost for the campervan on either route with two occupants, including reservation fee, is about $126.40 (as of March 2020).

Once you’ve disembarked, spend your first day enjoying the lively beachside city of Nanaimo, picking up a growler of local craft beer for the campsite, and sampling the food scene. Notable stops include Wolf Brewing and White Sails Brewing.

Cumberland Brewing Co. along the Nanaimo & Comox Valley Ale Trail Credit: BC Ale Trail

Night one, where to camp: Spend your first night at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, just north of the city, where campsites are within a 5-minute walk to gloriously sandy beach. (Note: Currently not open due to COVID-19 shutdown). Alternatives include Big Tent RV Park, Parry’s RV Park or Cedar Grove RV Park

Day two: When you’re ready to hit the road, head back to Highway 19A and continue north. Make a small detour west on the Alberni Highway to visit the Goats on Roof Old Country Market in Coombes. Meet the goats, stock up of fresh market foods, and treat yourself to an ice cream at this fun stop.

Highway 4 will bring you back to Highway 19A as it continues along the shore. Stop for beach time and fresh seafood as you pass through small towns, before heading inland again on the Comox Valley Parkway to Cumberland. 

The Village of Cumberland, a tiny town full of character, is known for its legendary mountain biking, pubs, eateries (you MUST have a doughnut from Cumberland Village Bakery) and coal mining history. 

Night two, where to camp: find a spot at Cumberland Lake Park campground, located on the shores of the glacier-fed Comox Lake. Enjoy the sandy beach, hiking trails and climbing areas.

Day three: Grab more doughnuts for the road and retrace your steps back to the coast, continuing north again once you reach highway 19A. Explore the towns of Courtney and Comox before heading to your final destination, Miracle Beach Provincial Park. (Note: Currently not open due to COVID-19 shutdown). The true beauty of Miracle Beach reveals itself as the tide goes out to display huge stretches of sand, warm tide pools and an amazing abundance of sea creatures.

Beach walk on Goose Spit in Comox Credit: Destination BC/Boomer Jerritt

Night three, where to camp: Spend your last night at Miracle Beach Provincial Park, (Note: Currently not open due to COVID-19 shutdown) where treed sites are set just off the beach. An Alternative would be to head further north to Salmon Point Resort or Driftwood Inn and RV Park in Campbell River.

Final day: shake the sand out of your shoes and take highway 19 (1.5 hours) or 19A (2 hours) back to the ferry, depending on your time frame.

Ready to start planning your Vancouver Island adventure? We highly recommend both campsite and ferry reservations be made in advance, to avoid disappointment. And don’t forget to share your adventure with us on social media using #GoodCamping and tagging @KarmaCampervans.

Parksville Beach Credit: Destination BC/Graeme Owsianski