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Cumberland Vacation // 2020

This is nearly 6 months after the fact, but better late than never. I wanted to write about our Cumberland vacation in July because I wanted to share this wonderful little town (and larger Comox Valley) with anyone interested in an outdoor-focused, local(ish) vacation. 

We travel light, and expect most of our activities to be somewhat free (hiking, biking, swimming) with our money mostly going to a nicer Airbnb rental and a few treats/meals out in the week. We mostly make all our food, and that helps keep our costs low. This was a really affordable trip for our family of 4, and frankly, the majority of our money went to our lodging and the ferry ride (oof), our splurge was surf + boogie board, wetsuit rentals. 

We found so many of these great spots from friends who had been in the area, or had previously lived within a 20 mile radius. Always ask a local! 
With our large Europe trip cancelled because of Covid, I wanted to go to the Island because it would feel like we "went somewhere" while still staying within BC restrictions. Stefan loves mountain biking, and I wanted to go somewhere where he could do that and that we'd never been before. He did either the bike park or an hour of biking on Cumberland Mountain each morning before the rest of us were up and at 'em.

After trying surfing in California a few years prior, getting to Tofino for a day of surfing was also interesting to all four of us. 

Stefan brought home a really nice magazine his company had printed, CV Collective, and it showcased the beautiful Comox Valley: the small towns of Comox, Courtenay, and Cumberland. This place fit the bill! We had such a great vacation here and really squeezed the life out of this area in 7 days. Read on for our itinerary. 

Saturday: travel day, Nanaimo beach (no picture), 1-2 hour bike ride up access roads into Cumberland forest (bugs!)

Parking lot with all our bikes at our airbnb--it was a great little 1 bedroom with everything necessary, including locked bike storage and a few blocks away from the town. 

Sunday: Buttle Lake swim (above), Lupin Falls hike/walk in Strathcona Provincial Park
Elk Falls Suspension Bridge
Campbell River and Dicks Fish & Chips, Miracle Beach swim (below) + sand dollars
 Bibliotaco in Cumberland --I still think about this burrito I've ever had

Miracle Beach at low tide. 

This place was incredible-you could walk in up to your waist for the equivalent for 2-3 blocks, and it was warm with huge powdery beaches. About halfway in, you stood in front of *thousands* of living sand dollars.This was one of the kids' favorite parts of our trip. We went back a different day only to be forced on the very tiny beach full of wasps because the tide was in. 

Monday: Forbidden Plateau mountain bike ride with a stop in Nymph Falls (below),

a walk in Seal Beach Park,  and shopping at Brains 4 Books bookstore in Comox

Tuesday: Cumberland potholes and hike, Rathtrevor Beach, 

Neck Point Park and Nanaimo friends and dinner!

As you can see, we went back to the "potholes" a few times on this trip. This was also one of the kids' favorite spots, and honestly, the pictures do not do it justice. This place is a unique little spot that has really soft stone worn away by moving water, and has made lots of little pools (some big enough to submerge in), and the formations are beautiful. 

Wednesday: driving and surfing/boogie boarding in Tofino

Thursday: Cumberland potholes, biking Cumberland Mountain 

shopping in Cumberland and Courtenay: 
Little Village, Jipsi Tree, CV Collective/ROAM, CVAG (closed!), Artifact, Second Page Books, Love's Ice Cream for dessert (picture with lights below), Cumberland Village Bakery (Stefan's favorite donuts!)

As you can see, we wrung the Comox valley out with bike rides, beach visits, hikes/walks, and ate our way through Cumberland-the adorable small town we stayed in for the week. The cherry on top was visiting our friends who moved to the Nanaimo area months ahead of our visit. 

If you're only in the area for the day, here's your short itinerary:

*Start your morning with a Cumberland Village Bakery strawberry donut (get there early, there's always a lineup)

*bike your level on Cumberland Mountain and spend an hour at the potholes exploring or dipping in the small pools on a hot day. If biking isn't your thing, you can walk the trails on the outskirts. 

*stroll through town and definitely hit up CV Collective (Roam) for a souvenir (art, clothing, etc.) made by a local

*eat lunch at Bibliotaco (get their bowl with carnitas!)

*take a short drive and plan to spend the warm afternoon at Miracle Beach. Be brave and pick up the sand dollars!

*pick up a snack at Love's Ice cream (prepare earlier when in town, they have weird hours) before driving towards your ferry


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