Life in the 21st century is fast-paced. Even when we’re not at work, it can be hard to relax and stop worrying about our to-do lists. No wonder wellness getaways have become important, and Vancouver Island, with its easy access to lush forests, mesmerizing seascapes, relaxing spas and unique wellness therapies, is an ideal destination. Here are some stops to take in near Pacifc Coastal Airline’s destinations on Vancouver Island.


There’s no better place to ease into some R & R than at the recently renovated Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa, just 20 minutes south of the Comox Valley Airport. Here you can start your day with some sun salutations at the Starfish Yoga Studio before moving on to a rejuvenating afternoon at the Pacific Mist Spa. Don’t miss the signature hydropath treatment, where a guide will keep you hydrated with lemon water as you wind through a re-created West Coast shoreline, featuring sand-stone sculpted steam caves, mineral pools, glacial waterfalls, tidal baths and a river walk. These hot/cold water treatments are known to increase circulation, enhance bodily functions, stimulate the lymphatic system and decrease inflammation. Finish off your wellness retreat day by dining at the qua Bistro & Wine Bar — its small plate menu of healthy seafood-and-vegetable-forward contemporary West Coast cuisine won’t weigh you down. When it’s time to watch the sunset, move into the serenity garden with your herbal tea to cosy up around the fire bowl and find your inner “om.”


Just 45 minutes down the highway brings you to the charming coastal towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach, an area often referred to as Canada’s Riviera. Here you will find some of the warmest ocean swimming waters in the country, and because this is the protected side of Vancouver Island, the water is calmer, making it the perfect place to get out on a kayak. Local companies like Adventuress Sea Kayaking offer tours where you’ll paddle past white-shelled beaches to spot sea lions, harbour seals and even orca whales. For a truly unique experience, try forest-bathing with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours.

Different than a mere walk in the woods, forest bathing (called Shinrin-yoku in Japan, where it originates), will take you on a journey of forest interaction, where you tune into all of your senses and become totally present in the moment. “Forest bathing has many proven positive effects,” says guide Ronda Murdock. “For example, after just 15 minutes in the forest, cortisol drops by 12 per cent. The chemical aerosols of natural preservatives and fungicides emitted by trees benefit our health, and some of these effects last for a week.” For a morning meditation, check the tide table and when the tide is out, plan a walk on Qualicum or Rathtrevor beaches, which turn into a sandy tidal flatland where you can find sea treasures like sand dollars, starfish, colourful shells and driftwood, and walk for hours. From here, move on to the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort, a 22-acre forested oceanfront sanctuary. Voted #1 spa in Canada by Spas of America, the resort’s 20,000-square-foot Grotto Spa offers a healing mineral pool and selection of body treatments with West Coast natural ingredients. For dinner, you don’t even need to change out of your spa robe and sandals — just reserve a table at the spa’s on-site Treetop Tapas & Grill to finish your day with some spa-inspired, antioxidant cuisine.


To experience Vancouver Island’s wild Pacific side, Tofino is the place. With just over 2,000 inhabitants and ts isolated location, the pace here is slow — a perfect place to unwind and tune into your inner peace. Stops at the windswept beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park, just down the road from the Tofino-Long Beach Airport, are a must. If you’re a boardwalk lover, catch the Rainforest Trail, two loop trails through lush, mostly old-growth forest (remember to breathe in those tree aerosols). To be lulled asleep at night by the sounds of the ocean waves, stay at the luxurious Wickaninnish Inn. Enjoy the rugged, untamed landscape as you walk the property’s forest trails, or join a guided naturalist hike every Saturday morning. Later in the day, truly immerse yourself in wellness with a Hishuk Ish Tsawalk Awakening Treatment at the inn’s Ancient Cedars Spa.

Inspired by the traditional cleansing techniques of the West Coast Indigenous people, the elements of fire, water, earth and air are harnassed to fully awaken all of your senses. Ready for something a little more active? Hit Chesterman Beach out front of the Wickaninnish Inn for a surf lesson (Tofino is Canada’s biggest and most popular surf hangout) or join a SUP yoga class to strengthen your core on the waves. For a day soaking in some natural hot springs, book a tour with Jamie’s Whaling Station & Adventu Centreres, who will whisk you away by boat to Hot Springs Cove at nearby Maquinna Provincial Park. A 30-minute boardwalk hike through old growth forest brings you to seven natural geothermal rock pools where you will feel all of your worries melting away. It’s guaranteed a Vancouver Island wellness experience is just what the doctor ordered.

Story by Kate Robertson, SOAR magazine contributer

Photos, left to right, Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre, Wickaninnish Inn, and Hot Springs Cove courtesy of Jamie’s Whaling Station & Adventure Centres.