Named after the Cowichan First Nations for whom it means “land warmed by the sun”, the Cowichan Valley is located between Victoria and Nanaimo on south Vancouver Island. Many hobby farms are across the region with an abundance of wineries and local food eateries inviting you to sip and savour.

Duncan is the Cowichan’s largest community. Known as the “City of Totems”, Duncan is graced with dozens of totem poles, principally located downtown and along the highway. Just north of Duncan is the BC Forestry Discovery Centre where visitors can stroll under 200-year-old, 55-metre-tall Douglas fir trees and visit a replica historic logging camp.

Visit Cowichan Bay and step on a whale watching vessel or participate in a guided Canoe or paddle board tour. Later, stroll through nearby Genoa Bay and enjoy a freshly cooked seafood platter or sip on one of the many local wines.

The pristine Cowichan Lake District, surrounded by mountains and rolling hills, is an ideal destination for outdoor adventures such as hiking and biking. The scenic 75 kilometre drive on paved and gravel roads around Cowichan Lake, the largest freshwater lake on Vancouver Island, takes about an hour and a half. Cast a line in the Cowichan River which offers some of the best trout and steelhead fishing on the Island or take advantage of over 20 km of hiking trails in the area.

Chemainus, to the north of the valley, has won international acclaim for its Festival of Murals and the Chemainus Theatre. Ladysmith is the most northerly community in the Cowichan. Once a shipping port for coal, Ladysmith has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Canada by Harrowsmith Magazine. Take a walking tour and check out the restored 19th and 20th century buildings that house antique shops, delightful cafes and eateries. Then relax on the beach and enjoy the stunning views.

Top 5 Things to Do

  • See the 39 outdoor murals in Chemainus
  • Explore "City of Totems" Duncan
  • Swim in Cowichan Lake
  • Visit pictoresque Cowichan Bay
  • BC Forestry Discovery Centre

Experience Cowichan

Their motto: "Slow down, savour life" says it all.

Video courtesy of Tourism Cowichan

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