Strathcona Provincial Park near Campbell River, BC

#GetOutside this Summer in Campbell River


Campbell River, a coastal city on Vancouver Island about 1.5 hours from much busier Nanaimo, is a lovely community defined by many fascinating characteristics, such as being the "Salmon Capital of the World." It's also a relatively large city, at least by Vancouver Island standards, yet it feels as if it's tucked away in a remote location. Not only is it quiet and serene, but the best way to get to Campbell River is by taking a ferry from Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver to Nanaimo, then driving the remainder of the way. You'll truly feel like you're "getting away from it all" as you travel to this sleepy and gorgeous coastal town!

This idyllic community is also a wonderful home base for all types of outdoor recreation. Campbell River is surrounded by five provincial parks: Elk Falls, Strathcona, Miracle Beach, Loveland Bay, and Mohun Lake. The area also has incredibly diverse geography, ranging from sandy beaches and steep mountain cliffs to freshwater rivers and dense coastal forests. Regardless of how you prefer to spend your time outside, you'll find Campbell River to be the perfect host.

Strathcona Provincial Park lake view

How to #GetOutside

Embark on a marine or wildlife tour

No matter what time of year you visit, one of the best things to do in Campbell River is observe the diverse wildlife. Campbell River is home to numerous large mammals and spectacular marine life, but be sure to view them safely and responsibly. Habituation, when wild animals become increasingly desensitized to humans because of repeated interaction, is a huge and dangerous issue. Be sure to book your excursion with a reputable tour operator who uses responsible and sustainable practices.

  • Whale watching tours (April through October)
  • Bear viewing (August through October)
  • Snorkeling with salmon (July through September)

Mountain bike northern Vancouver Island

The rugged, heavily forested terrain in northern Vancouver Island is an adventure lover's paradise. Mountain biking is one of the best things to do near Campbell River, with seemingly endless miles of both single track and cross-country trails to explore. Whether you're a beginner heading out for an hour or a seasoned veteran tackling an all-day biking adventure, Campbell River has numerous options.

  • Menzies Mountain
  • Snowden Demonstration Forest
  • Beaver Lodge Lands

Take a hike from Campbell River

Between the several provincial parks, the coast, and the dense forest, there's no shortage of hiking in Campbell River. Perhaps you prefer a more leisurely stroll through an old-growth forest in Elk Falls Provincial Park, or maybe you'd like to get your heart pounding on a rugged mountainside with a steep incline and magnificent views in Strathcona Provincial Park. There are also the sandy beaches and easier coastal hikes in Quadra Island's Rebecca Spit Provincial Park.

Whatever your personal hike style is, the many unique hiking trails here are some of the top Campbell River attractions. And of course, please remember to practice Leave No Trace. That means staying on designated trails, observing all signs, and packing out anything you bring in with you.

Cast a line and try your hand at fishing

men fly fishing in a river

Fishing is far and away one of the top choices when people are considering what to do in Campbell River. With abundant freshwater and saltwater fishing year-round, anglers of all experience and skill levels will enjoy fishing here. Chinook, or King salmon, and steelhead can be fished all year in Campbell River, while the summer months bring opportunities for catching coho, pink, chum, and sockeye salmon, as well as tyee, or rowing chinook.

Ocean fishing among the Discovery Islands' many inlets offers spectacular scenery and opportunities for wildlife viewing. On the other hand, freshwater fishing in the 4-kilometre Campbell River and other nearby rivers offer world-class fly-fishing opportunities. There's also the unique Discovery Fishing Pier, which is open 24 hours a day and well-lit at night. The pier even has fish cleaning tables, bait stands, and built-in rod holders.

Spend the day exploring regional beaches and parks

Being on Vancouver Island's east coast, Campbell River has no shortage of beaches and other parks to explore.

  • Stories Beach - 15 minutes from Campbell River, excellent for swimming and windsurfing
  • Rotary Beach Park - A calm beach just five minutes from Campbell River. Enjoy the views and unusual rock pool, and bring a picnic lunch
  • Miracle Beach Provincial Park - This large sandy beach is one of the most popular Campbell River attractions. It's just south of town and features a broad, sandy beach, playground, picnic areas, nature trails, and tide pools at low tide.

Take a stroll along the Discovery Fishing Pier

Even if you're not into fishing yourself, visiting the Discovery Fishing Pier is one of the best things to do in Campbell River. Enjoy excellent views of Discovery Passage and Quadra Island and when the concession stand is open (7:00 am through dusk, May through September), treat yourself to a legendary ice cream cone.

Visit Tyee Spit/Dick Murphy Park

Tyee Spit

Dick Murphy Park is a spectacular park located on the Tyee Spit. It's surrounded by Discovery Passage to the east, the Campbell River estuary on the west, and the estuary mouth to the north. The spit provides invaluable protection to many salmon species, and it also acts as a natural walking path with some of the best views anywhere. Look out to see Quadra Island and Discovery Island. Sunsets here are spectacular, and there are plenty of opportunities to spot marine and other wildlife.

During the summers, from mid-July through mid-September, watch the rowers and anglers from the Tyee Club fish from wooden rowboats. This is a long-held and beloved local tradition, one of the most unique things to do near Campbell River. Cruise ships also come and go in the summer, so this is a wonderful spot to walk and people-watch during sunset.

Where to stay in Campbell River

exterior of Coast Discovery Inn

Affectionately called "The D.I." by locals, the Coast Discovery Inn is the ideal place to stay for a visit to Campbell River. It's in the heart of downtown, directly across the street from the ocean. The pet-friendly hotel offers a complimentary hot daily breakfast buffet, a fitness centre, and free wi-fi. There's also the D.I. Restaurant and Lounge onsite, which hosts some of the best nightly happy hour specials in town. No matter what brings you to town or when, the D.I. is the perfect jumping-off point for all the best things to do in Campbell River.