Parksville Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Parksville with this comprehensive travel guide. Explore the top attractions, activities, accommodations, and local culture of this scenic destination in Central Vancouver Island.

Introduction to Parksville

Located in Central Vancouver Island, Parksville is an idyllic seaside town that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural attractions. From stunning beaches and scenic trails to fascinating museums and art galleries, Parksville is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking to experience the best of British Columbia.

In this comprehensive travel guide, we will take you through the top attractions, activities, accommodations, and local culture of Parksville. Whether you are a solo traveler, a couple, or a family with kids, this guide will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in this charming Canadian town.

List of Places to Visit in Parksville

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Parksville has a rich history and culture, and there are several museums and historical places that are worth a visit. Some of the top attractions in this category include:

  • Craig Heritage Park and Museum: This museum showcases the history of Parksville and its neighboring communities through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.

  • North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre: This center is dedicated to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in the region and features a variety of animals, including birds of prey, black bears, and cougars.

  • Parksville Museum: This museum showcases the history of the town and its surrounding areas through exhibits, artifacts, and guided tours.

Natural Attractions of Parksville: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Parksville is known for its stunning natural scenery, and there are plenty of outdoor adventures and scenic spots to explore. Some of the top attractions in this category include:

  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park: This park features a long stretch of sandy beach, tidal pools, and hiking trails.

  • Englishman River Falls Provincial Park: This park features two waterfalls, hiking trails, and picnic areas.

  • Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park: This park features several waterfalls, hiking trails, and a campground.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Parksville

Parksville has plenty of hiking and biking trails that take you through some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the region. Some of the top routes in this category include:

  • Top Bridge Trail: This 7-kilometer trail spans the Englishman River and takes you through forests, canyons, and riverbeds.

  • Englishman River Estuary Trail: This 3-kilometer loop trail takes you through marshes, wetlands, and estuaries and provides excellent bird-watching opportunities.

  • Nile Creek Trail: This 2.5-kilometer trail takes you through a forested area and along a creek, where you can swim or fish for trout.

Best Things to Do in Parksville: Activities and Tours

Apart from hiking and biking, there are plenty of other activities and tours that you can enjoy in Parksville. Some of the top things to do in this category include:

  • Whale Watching Tour: Take a boat tour to see Orcas, humpback whales, and other marine mammals in their natural habitat.

  • Surfing Lessons: Learn to surf or hone your skills with expert instructors in the warm waters of Parksville.

  • Skydiving: Experience the thrill of skydiving over the stunning landscapes of Central Vancouver Island with a tandem jump.

Week-Long Itinerary for Parksville

If you have a week to explore Parksville, here’s a suggested itinerary that will cover all the top attractions and activities:

Day Activities
Day 1 Visit Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park and explore the tidal pools and beach.
Day 2 Take a whale watching tour and see marine wildlife in their natural habitat.
Day 3 Hike the Top Bridge Trail and explore the forests, canyons, and riverbeds.
Day 4 Visit Craig Heritage Park and Museum and learn about the history of Parksville and its neighboring communities.
Day 5 Learn to surf or hone your skills with expert instructors.
Day 6 Take a day trip to nearby destinations like Tofino or Ucluelet.
Day 7 Relax on the beach or go for a scenic drive along the Pacific Ocean.

Food and Drink Scene of Parksville

Parksville is home to several restaurants, cafes, and bars that offer a variety of cuisines and beverages. Here are some of the must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Seafood Chowder: A creamy, hearty soup made with fresh seafood, potatoes, and vegetables.

  • Fish and Chips: Crispy battered fish served with fries, coleslaw, and tartar sauce.

  • Nanaimo Bar: A dessert bar made with layers of chocolate, custard, and graham cracker crumbs.

Local Beverages

  • Island Crafted Beer: Brewed using the finest local ingredients, Island Crafted Beer offers a range of flavors and styles.

  • Vancouver Island Wine: With a warm climate and fertile soil, Vancouver Island produces some of the best wines in Canada, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.

Where to Stay in Parksville: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Parksville has plenty of options for accommodations, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. Some of the top choices in this category include:

  • Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort: A luxurious resort with oceanfront cottages, a full-service spa, and a restaurant.

  • Beach Club Resort: An upscale hotel with ocean views, private balconies, and a pool.

  • HI-Parksville Hostel: A budget-friendly hostel with dorms and private rooms, a shared kitchen, and a lounge.

What to Buy in Parksville: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Parksville offers plenty of options for souvenirs and local products that capture the essence of the town and its surrounding areas. Some of the top things to buy in this category include:

  • Art and Crafts: From pottery and paintings to jewelry and sculptures, there are plenty of local artists and artisans in Parksville who sell their work.

  • Local Food Products: From smoked salmon and honey to locally-grown produce and artisanal cheeses, there are plenty of local food products that you can take home.

Local Culture and Customs of Parksville

Parksville has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its art, music, and festivals. Some of the top cultural events and customs in this category include:

  • The Beachfest Sandcastle Competition: This annual event brings together sandcastle builders from around the world to create stunning sculptures on Parksville Beach.

  • Music on Sunday: Every Sunday afternoon during the summer months, the Parksville Community Park hosts free concerts by local musicians.

  • First Nations Culture: The region around Parksville is home to several First Nations communities, and you can learn about their culture and customs through museums, art galleries, and guided tours.

Best Time to Visit Parksville

The best time to visit Parksville is during the summer months (June to September), when the weather is warm and sunny, and outdoor activities and festivals are in full swing. However, if you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, you can also visit in the offseason (October to May), when the crowds are thinner, and prices are lower.

Do’s and Don’ts of Parksville


  • Respect the local wildlife and natural environment.

  • Take advantage of the many outdoor activities and tours that are available.

  • Support local artists and businesses by buying their products and services.


  • Leave your garbage or litter on the beach or in the parks.

  • Approach or feed wild animals, as it can be dangerous for both you and them.

  • Ignore the local culture and customs, and always show respect for the First Nations communities in the region.

Safety and Health

Safety in Parksville

Parksville is a relatively safe destination, with low crime rates and friendly locals. However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to take some basic precautions to stay safe, such as:

  • Lock your doors and windows when you leave your accommodations.

  • Keep your valuables safe and secure.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.

Health in Parksville

Parksville has several medical facilities and pharmacies that can provide basic healthcare services and medications. However, it’s always a good idea to bring any necessary prescriptions and medical supplies with you when you travel.

Getting to Parksville: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Parksville

The closest major airport to Parksville is Nanaimo Airport, which is located about 40 km south of the town. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle or taxi to Parksville. Alternatively, you can fly into Vancouver International Airport and take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

Bus Stations Near Parksville

Parksville is connected to other major cities in British Columbia and Vancouver Island through local bus services, such as Greyhound and Tofino Bus. The Greyhound bus station is located in Nanaimo, while the Tofino Bus has a stop in Parksville.

Other Options

You can also reach Parksville by car, ferry, or train. The town is well-connected to the rest of Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia through several highways, ferries, and railways.

How to Get Around in Parksville

Parksville is a small town, and most of the attractions, accommodations, and restaurants are within walking distance of each other. Alternatively, you can rent a bike or a car to explore the surrounding areas and nearby destinations.

Where to Go Next from Parksville: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

If you’re planning a longer trip to Vancouver Island, there are several nearby destinations and excursions that you can visit from Parksville. Some of the top choices in this category include:

  • Tofino: A scenic town on the Pacific Coast known for its surfing, beaches, and rugged landscapes.

  • Victoria: The capital city of British Columbia, with stunning architecture, museums, and botanical gardens.

  • Pacific Rim National Park: A wilderness area that offers hiking, wildlife watching, and coastal activities.


Parksville is a charming destination that offers a perfect balance of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural attractions. Plan your trip using this comprehensive travel guide and explore the best of Central Vancouver Island. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a family with kids, or a couple, Parksville has something for everyone.