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Explore Campbell River like a Local

The Campbell River Collection App is your guide to the best of what our city has to offer. To create the Locals Discovery Collection we recruited the help of local explorer and photographer @michaelrhack to curate the collection with his recommendations for what are “must-sees” in Campbell River.

Travel restrictions or not, there is always lots to do in Campbell River – from iconic local landmarks, unique small-town restaurants, to endless options for activities and ways to combine them all right here at your doorstep. To showcase the variety of options Campbell River has to offer, we thought we’d combine a bunch of activities into one epic day.

Morning: Breakfast and ferry journey 

We decided to start the day off in true local fashion, by ordering breakfast from the Ideal Cafe – a local breakfast staple that loggers, fishermen and Campbellriverites have enjoyed to start their day since 1940! What better way to fuel up for a day full of activities. We ordered our food (and milkshakes)  to go because we are already heading off to our first activity of the day, and for that, we need to make the 9:30 am ferry to Quadra Island 

Waiting in the ferry line-up was the perfect place to dig into our delicious smelling carry-on, we shared the french toast and an Ideal omelette. Although eating in the car is always a challenge – it’s one I’m willing to accept. Both dishes were amazing.

boats in the harbour at Quathiaski Cove
a woman walking in front of the ideal cafe with take out in her hand
a dog looking out the window on the quadra ferry

Afternoon: Explore quadra island 

By the time we emptied our plates and disposed of the evidence, we were almost at Quathiaski Cove ready to hit the road to our first landmark destination, the Cape Mudge Lighthouse. Every time we go over to Quadra, we make a point to go to the lighthouse and walk along the shoreline in front of the iconic landmark. 

This walk offers some of the best views of Campbell River from downtown all the way to Big Rock and Willow Point. I am usually more distracted by the actual lighthouse. It’s easy to underestimate how tall it is when you only see it from the CR side of the channel. While walking down the beach we were amazed to see a pair of humpback whales swimming by with the current, we sat and watched them cruise on into the distance until we couldn’t see them anymore. I’d say it’s been a pretty good start to the morning!

a woman and her dog sit on the beach with the Cape Mudge Lighthouse behind them
the lighthouse at cape mudge
the lighthouse at cape mudge

Fun fact: Did you know the Cape Mudge lighthouse is the exact same design as the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia? 

 

From there we hopped in the car and were off to our second Quadra Island stop, Rebecca Spit (of course!). Going to Rebecca Spit to walk the trails and chase Sasquatches makes you feel as though you’re a million miles from Campbell River. For me, it brings back memories of childhood camping trips and swimming in the bay on a hot summer’s day. We enjoy walking the trails or weave our way through the anchored boats in our kayaks, or simply just having a picnic – no matter what your activity of choice for the day is, Rebecca Spit always has a relaxing aura that can be enjoyed by any visitor. 

One thing that isn’t relaxing, rushing to the next ferry We finished our walk and hopped back in the car and headed back to the ferry. Next on the agenda, a kayak at low tide at Shelter Point.

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You can find more of these drifted creations throughout Campbell River.

Evening: kayak the local waters 

Shelter Point is one of the best places in Campbell River to see the diverse sea life in the intertidal zone. It is easily accessible on foot, but kayaking around the point at low tide gives you a unique perspective of the bustling activity that takes place when the tide recedes. 

Great blue herons, harbour seals, eagles, and numerous other sea birds come to forage when the land is exposed and viewing by kayak can be less disruptive (and slippery) than making the journey out to the point on foot. 

Paddling here gives you a window into all the sea life under the surface and is more active with the water still sheltering it. There are various types of starfish, urchins, crabs and fish covering this bustling reef and watching all the microcosms of activity, it’s clear the reef is a natural metropolis just under the surface.

 

Tired yet? After spending a few hours paddling around and checking out all the sea life, it’s time to load the boats back onto the car and find something else – My stomach is telling me the thing to do is find food!

a kayaker at sunset
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If you don’t have your own kayak, there are plenty of local tour operators keen to show you around.

Night: Relax with good eats

After a quick drive home and exchanging kayaks for bikes, we were ready to hit the road for our last activity of the day: biking the sea walk with SoCal’s patio as our destination (and salvation). We enjoy biking the sea walk because it allows you to travel quickly with minimal effort. 

With the energy left in our tank, we rode down the sea walk at a nice cruising speed. We passed Big Rock but stopped when we caught an older couple sitting looking through binoculars. I know better than to pass people looking through binoculars at the beach, without asking “What do you see?!” Their response, “Two humpbacks!”

No, I am not making this up! Were they the same ones we saw before? I couldn’t be sure. Either way, only in Campbell River! My heart wanted to stay and watch the whales, but our stomachs were telling us otherwise, so onward we went to sustenance. Tired and weary from the amazing day, we finally arrived at the relaxing patio and tucked into refreshments and some of the best food in town to boot. I like the symmetry of ending the day similar to how it began: whales and good food. 

The best part about living in Campbell River… you can do it all again tomorrow!

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Download the Campbell River Collection App to collect points while you explore like a local.