I used to look at winter in the Pacific Northwest as a dreaded time of year due to the dreary weather. While I would want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix in the winter, I’ve now made a mission to explore different ski resorts around the area. I visited Vancouver Island earlier in the spring and absolutely loved driving around, so I was excited to find out they had a mountain I could actually ski on during the winter! Here’s how to go skiing on Vancouver Island.
How to Get to Vancouver Island
There are several ways to get to Vancouver Island. While the shortest way is to take a seaplane, that’s also quite pricey. The best way, in my opinion, is to drive to the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal. It’s only about 15 minutes west of the Peace Arch border crossing, so just follow the signs for Tsawassen.
I recommend booking your spot in advance on their website to make sure it doesn’t sell out. You’ll want the Tsawassen to Duke Point ferry, which will come out just south of Nanaimo on the east side of Vancouver Island.
You need to check in at the ferry dock 30-60 minutes before your scheduled time to make sure they don’t give away your reservation. This is one place you won’t mind waiting, however. Head inside to the ferry terminal where they have over a dozen different restaurants and shops, including Chinese food, pizza, and health food. For free wi-fi, sit where the Starbucks is and log on to their network.
The ferry crossing is about 2 hours long, but the BC Ferries are very nice compared to others I’ve been on. There are workstations to sit at and charge your electronics if you need to work, or you can choose to go to the coffee shop on board. They have a cafeteria that has a White Spot restaurant, so you can get everything from burgers to salads.
Read more: What to Pack for a Ski Trip
Where to Stay
Mount Washington is in the Comox Valley, and there are plenty of hotels to choose from there. However, I chose to stay further south at Tigh-Na-Mara for a luxurious stay in the woods. It’s located in Parksville, so it’s about 45 minutes south of Mount Washington.
You can choose from a room with a view of the water, a cozy cabin, or a comfy spa suite. I stayed in the spa suite, which was perfect with the colder weather. It had a jacuzzi tub and a fireplace, which made it hard to want to leave! The suite was also away from the other buildings, so I loved the sense of privacy.
You can’t stay at Tigh-Na-Mara without making an appointment at the spa, The Grotto. It was voted the #1 spa in all of Western Canada, so you know you won’t be disappointed. You can start in the morning with some time at the mineral pool relaxing. After, you can get a facial, massage, or variety of other services. End your time with the Endless Tapas, which features 17 different small plates to sample. I recommend having a very light breakfast!
The Comox Valley is located about halfway up the east side of Vancouver Island. It showcases some of the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer, as you can go skiing in the mountains and go snorkeling in the ocean in the same day. The main cities are Courtenay and Comox, but there’s plenty to do even for small towns. Although I’ve only been to this area in the winter, I can see how it’d be good for outdoor lovers no matter what time of year you come.
I recommend stopping at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre on your way into town. They’re very helpful and can help you plan out your trip a little better. You might get some ideas of what else to add to your vacation while you’re in the Comox Valley as well.
Read more: Exploring Vancouver Island’s East Coast
Where to Eat
Comox Valley has dozens of different restaurants to choose from, and many showcase British Columbia’s amazing seafood selection.
Blackfin Pub – Save this restaurant for the night you want to treat yourself. Everything I had was so decadent, from the Caesar salad to the salmon. It’s right on the Comox Harbour, so you can walk around before or after depending when the sun goes down.
Cornerstone Café & Taphouse – This restaurant reminded me of a fancy British pub. You order your food at the front and there are plenty of local beers to choose from. Save room for dessert, as the carrot cake is amazing.
Gladstone Brewing – This is the perfect place to go for apres-drinks when you’re done skiing. You could even stay in the same clothes, as there’s an area to sit outside with a heat lamp.
Forbidden Brewing Co. – Tucked away under a Best Western, I loved the vibe of this bar. Get a sampler so you can taste a variety of beer. There are plenty of games to play to entertain you while you’re there.
Skiing at Mount Washington
I loved visiting Mount Washington Alpine Resort for a weekend of snowboarding. You turn off the main highway, 19-N, and go west up into the mountains for a bit. I recommend coming early, as I got there before 9 AM and barely fit in the first parking lot. They’re open from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
There were 81 runs, ranging from beginner to double-black diamond runs for experts. A ski school is available if you want to take lessons to improve your skills. Try to get to one of the lifts that go to the top, as the view is absolutely beautiful. Although it was foggy when I went, normally you can see all the way down to the ocean from the top.
A lodge is available with a cafe, restaurant, and bar. They have a variety of different options for food, including vegan and gluten-free. There’s also free wi-fi throughout the lodge. I recommend stopping in Ted’s Bar and Grill for a drink after you’re done.
There’s quite a lot to do in the Comox Valley, so I recommend spending a long weekend here to experience it all!
This post was sponsored by Discover Comox Valley, but all opinions are my own.
Want more stories from the Pacific Northwest?
Sign up for my newsletter to find out about the best places to visit in the Pacific Northwest along with plenty of outdoor activities to do!