Calgary to Comox 5 Day Itinerary
There’s a certain delight in experiencing the Comox Valley when relentless summer days recede and the air develops a satisfying crispness.
This Vancouver Island community has a relationship intertwined with its bewitching natural surroundings; vivid pops of chlorophyll graduate to many nuanced shades, mass wildlife migration courses through riverways and dinner plates are filled with wholesome seasonal local fare.
The Comox Valley entices many in the Fall with appealing temperate weather, an abundance of accessible nature, alongside a wealth of charming local artisans and enriching experiences to enjoy. It makes a perfect multi-day getaway from the encroaching bitterly cold days. With many ways to reach the Valley, but a treasured non-stop flight route linking Calgary International Airport (YYC) with Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) and as many as three flights a day both ways, a mini-break out west makes perfect sense to many. Although, fitting in the best of what the Valley has to offer in a number of days is a steep task, thankfully we’ve pieced together a 4.5 day example itinerary as a basis to your trip.
Saturday - Get Acquainted.
How does the saying go - the early worm catches the flight with no panic?
Be early to Calgary International Airport for your 9:40am departure with WestJet, this service runs September and October and switches to a 11:30am departure for November. YQQ’s website suggests turning up 2 hours before domestic departures. Although up early you’ll be rewarded having earned an hour back crossing into the PST time zone - touching down to Comox Airport at 10:20am local time. Our example itinerary is only a loose basis, so if you’re all for an evening departure, sink into a relaxing early evening flight and arrive in time for dinner.
Travel from the airport seamlessly with a range of transit options. A choice of rental cars priced at comparative market pricing are available from the desk located inside the airport from National, Budget and Enterprise, book early for the best deals. Alternatively, riding to your accommodation via taxi is simple with Comox Taxi, Ambassador Taxi or Joe’s Taxi. BC Transit is also an option with a bus network servicing Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland, change in downtown Courtenay for farther afield destinations.
It’s a good idea to read up on your destination a little before you arrive too.
With its central location, warm service and reputable rooms the Bayview Hotel in Courtenay makes for a comfortable stay with all amenities catered to. Luxuriate in their whirlpool, get some strokes in the indoor swimming pool or workout in their 24 hour fitness centre. Sometimes an early check in can be arranged, however a convenient and safe luggage store is always available at no extra cost.
Another fantastic option comes with the nearby Best Western Westerly Hotel in Courtenay. With clean comfortable suites with all considerations for weary travelers catered to, the location of this hotel is also excellent as a base to explore. A safe luggage storage option is also available if arriving pre-3pm check in.
Perhaps the most salubrious option is the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort, with its pleasant oceanfront setting, spa and highly rated restaurant, relaxation is high amongst its benefits. It’s located a little south of Courtenay in Royston. Again, luggage storage is standard.
If the seaside allure of Comox or the charm of Cumberland are preferred, an airbnb search generates some beautiful properties, each unique and memorable. Early check-ins with airbnb are subject to owners’ discretion.
Many accommodation options are available, the above are only a selection for the sake of this itinerary.
Cumbersome items of luggage now dropped off, it’s time to begin the exploration, starting with satisfying the stomach! Taking the two Courtenay accommodations we’ve outlined as a base, there’s some delectable locales nearby. The Hen & Hog Cafe is a locals’ favourite serving up brunch must-haves with Comox Valley ingredients from eggs benny, french toast and omelette. If wandering into the downtown core of Courtenay, through quaint 5th street and beyond, Off Main is a worthy locale to secure brunch or lunch, with seasonal local ingredients and a rotating menu.
Appetite appeased, you may have time to venture to the weekly Comox Valley Farmers’ Market. It’s situated in downtown Courtenay in the Native Sons Hall from October 14th onwards and concludes at 1pm every Saturday. Find many growers, makers and bakers from the Valley under one roof, and get a real sense of the community first hand.
Take some precious time to wander Courtenay’s picturesque 5th street and its surrounding streets, here you’ll find independent shopping, art, cafe’s and two museums. The town, a product of the late 1800’s pioneer age, still exudes an old world appeal. The Courtenay Museum and Comox Valley Art Gallery are specific highlights, make sure to check exhibit schedules ahead of time.
Today is all about finding your bearings, and with your haul of local goods from the farmers’ market as well as getting your steps well and truly in, it’s time to check in to your hotel and take a moment of respite. Unpack, grab a hot drink, a snack or simply kick back.
Make your way to Comox to conclude your day, this seaside community sparkles with seaside elegance. It’s only fitting to fill some time before dinner to leisurely saunter along the scenic boardwalk found at the Comox Marina, and breathe in views of mountain and ocean. Underline the day with a delicious dinner from the established Blackfin Pub - classics, lighter bites, cocktails and local beer are all served. The view from here is always splendid. If a bustle and some great pours are preferred, Church St. Taphouse remains a favourite for those seeking a bar atmosphere, with a tasty expansive menu and several rotating local beers, ciders and wines available.
Sunday - A Day On The Green & By The Sea.
Grab a satisfying breakfast at the hotel, each option detailed offers a delicious breakfast in-house. If looking to grab something in Courtenay before the day ahead, Milano Coffee is a great option for sandwiches, bites, fresh barista grade coffee, teas and more.
Golf is an ever popular activity in the Comox Valley with an impressive 6 courses to choose from, there’s 9 or 18 holes available of various difficulties, all of which operate year round. The Valley’s courses also offer unforgettable scenery. Crown Isle Resort is probably the gem of the Comox Valley golfing scene, with its PGA tour rated landscaped greens there’s views seemingly in every direction, notably of the towering Comox glacier and surrounding Beaufort range. With a sizable clubhouse with sparkling facilities, it’s a world away from any worries. Glacier Greens in Comox is an 18 hole championship course held in high esteem in the golf community, just watch out for wandering deer or being distracted by the spectacular views. The conclusion of hole 9 seems like a wise place to break for a spot of lunch.
Crown Isle will easily cater to your hankerings, with a regal feeling clubhouse that contains the Timber Room Bar & Grill, here you can feast on a menu of salmon, beef and vegetarian options paired with delicious wines, cocktails and beers. Glacier Greens offers Red’s Place Bar & Grill, for handhelds straight off the grill, soups and more. If an option away from the green is more your thing Land & Sea Brewing is not so far from either course, this stylish space not only serves refreshing L&S pours but has a food menu that’s held in high regard, with legendary sharers, Asian influenced dishes and handhelds.
Once the 18th hole has been played, there’s possibly time to enjoy a late afternoon easy going activity, in keeping with the laid back feel of the day. Making your way to either Point Holmes Beach, or Goose Spit Beach is guaranteed to cap the day off nicely. Both offer exceptional ocean views of the Salish Sea, and the mountain ranges beyond, both have a pebble beach to enjoy and both offer the chance to spot wildlife such as seals, sea lions, whales and salmon. Goose Spit has a prime viewing spot if wanting to kick up your activity and climb the staircase that hugs the cliff. Parking is usually simple to obtain here.
Hopefully the pace of the day has been aptly relaxing, dinner shouldn’t be a hassle either. If wanting to stay in the Comox area, check out the veritable Asian dishes of the family owned Curry Cottage. The authentic Indian fare is highly rated, with gluten free and vegan options too. If heading back into Courtenay or even to Cumberland, Locals Restaurant serves up seasonal, local fare from sea, farm & field, whereas BiblioTaco in Cumberland is more casual setting, with handcrafted tacos of many-many varieties.
Monday - Cumberland Curiosities.
Either grab a breakfast in-hotel or make your way to the locally loved Tin Town Cafe, here you can choose from a host of fresh breakfast items from freshly baked croissants, tarts, cereals and superb range of coffee/tea. Nearby is the much adored Honey Grove Bakery - local specialists in sourdough bread creations, savory and sweet pastries and incredible lunch ready flatbreads are all available - grab something to go for lunch, as you’ll require it for your day ahead. These are both in an ideal location en route to your next location - the uniquely pleasant village of Cumberland.
Exploring the village of Cumberland is a must when in the Comox Valley. The vibrant feel of this old mining community is nurtured through its locally owned independent businesses and it prides itself as an activity mecca, with acres of trails and lake in abundance. Make time to visit Moons Records, a destination in its own right. Peruse records, art, skateboards, merch and curios - it’s difficult to walk out empty handed. Meandering up Dunsmuir Street and its adjoining streets gives ample opportunity to visit local businesses. The Waverely Hotel at the westerly end of the street is a time-honoured venue for shows, and its charming wood clad innards are worth a peek, show or not.
Cumberland isn’t just about its culture, the hub of activities is numerous. This is where your day can hinge into a full throttle adrenaline chase, a steady cardio climb, or a laid back lake day.
If looking to kick up the adrenaline the world class mountain biking trails that back on to the village are numerous and Fall is as good a time as any to get out amongst them. Hire a mountain bike and protective gear from Beaufort Cycles, and make sure to get information on the trail system, remember a GPS, water and your lunch which you shrewdly bought earlier on!
If looking for activity but not the jeopardy, the same trail systems are suitable for hiking, again be prepared with the correct gear and be sure to grab a trail map, and remember to pack the lunch you purchased earlier in the day! Using trails, and being in forested areas, means being wildlife aware and courteous in leaving no trace.
Lastly, if kicking back is firmly on the agenda, just a 6 minute drive from the village brings you to the recreation area of Comox Lake, a glacial fed lake from Strathcona Park’s mountains beyond. Here, the sand beaches and communal picnic areas are a great setting where you can dip your toes in, paddle, or even swim if you feel brave enough. However, just admiring the view, lunch in hand (purchased earlier on), is a fulfilling way to spend an afternoon. In early Fall SUP and kayak hire is still available. When taking to the water, exercise water safety, and beware of conditions.
Your pleasing day in Cumberland is behind you and you’re heading back to the hotel, it’s time for some relaxation. For those who enjoy sitting and contemplating, do so. If there’s still a little energy to burn both the Courtenay hotels we’ve listed are in fantastic locations to take advantage of the easy going paved Air Park Loop Walk. This flat 4km route takes you along the Courtenay riverway, around the perimeter of the small airfield (watch out for low flying small aircraft!), and gives superb views of the estuary beyond, here you can see ancient indigenous fishing traps at low tide.
Nikkei Ramen Ya has been featured in Vancouver Island-wide written guides, and continues to be touted amongst foodies as one of the best ramen places around. Head to its downtown Courtenay location for tantalizing Asian broths. An alternative, and something entirely in keeping with the unique feel of the day, is The Yellow Deli Diner, situated at the westerly end of Courtenay’s 5th street. Afterwards, be sure to take a walk down to nearby Gladstone Brewing and sample its provincially award winning line-up of craft brews, there’s a sizable heated patio and frequent events that make this a real community hub for locals and visitors.
Tuesday - Fishing.
Today is going to be a good day! Ensure to fuel up with your breakfast in-hotel, alternatively grab a quick bite at the wholesome breakfast institution Early Bird Cafe, in downtown Courtenay. You’re going to need another grab-and-go lunch for your day spent sea fishing. That doesn’t mean it has to be substandard though! Head to nearby Butchers Block, a Valley favourite where they only use locally sourced produce, grab one of their loaded sandwich creations, in-house made sausage rolls, meat pies or fresh salads. Alternatively, Frankie Jo’s, nearby, offers sandwiches and pastries along with freshly brewed barista grade coffee.
Loaded with your sustenance for the day, and with appropriate clothing, make your way to Comox marina where you’ll meet one of the Island Pursuit Sport Fishing crew, a memorable day on the water partaking in a 5 or 6 hour fishing expedition awaits. Ensure you book this experience ahead of your departure date, to lock it in. With years of experience, Steve Veleso and his crew are fully equipped to provide a special day hooking salmon, bringing in cod and pulling up crabs. The company has a reputation for fun memorable experiences out on the Salish Sea, where you’ll also have the opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery, often in warm sunny Fall conditions. Just remember the tasty lunch you’ve packed to have whilst aboard.
You’ll disembark at Comox Marina, so why not make a late afternoon and evening of it. Take time to wander up centrally located Comox Avenue, which is littered with art studios, trinket stores and cafes. For dinner head to the always great Boonies Pizza for out of the box flavour profiles that just seem to work on their pies. Alternatively, Toscano’s Mediterranean Grill is a renowned spot to taste local ingredients cooked to perfection - enjoy the farm to fork Euro inspired cuisine.
Wednesday - return to the airport in no rush
Travel days needn’t be a headache, the proximity of everything in the Comox Valley is pleasingly nearby, including the airport. A mere 15 minutes from downtown Courtenay and you’re at Comox international, so there’s no need to rush, especially as your return flight departs at 11:30am in September/October, or 1:15pm in November.
Firstly, grab a leisurely breakfast in your hotel or head to a brunch hotspot, Bigfoot Donuts in Courtenay which not only provides talked about donuts but exceptional breakfast sandwiches. Checkout is at 11am for the hotels we’ve listed here, so take your time. If the 1:15 flight is your route home, take time to enjoy the spa, pool or lounges in your hotel complex. Alternatively, lounge at one of the spacious cafe’s outlined in this itinerary.
Comox International Airport advises you to arrive at least 90 minutes ahead of your scheduled flight so allow time to reach the departure lounge, and return your rental vehicle if applicable. Rental car returns are easily processed at the airport. The same taxi services - Comox Taxi, Ambassador Taxi or Joe’s Taxi, will happily get you to your take-off in time. BC transit also services the airport.
If leaving on the 11:30am flight you’ll arrive back to Calgary International airport at 1:28pm, the later 1:15pm departure has you arrive at 3:54pm. Both flights leave plenty of the day to arrive home safely and contemplate your wondrous Comox Valley trip.
The above itinerary aims to be a basis of a trip, and days are interchangeable, flight times can also be altered in line with preferred days of travel.