Family-friendly beach camping near Parksville

Camp with the family in this beach holiday town on the east coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island.

97% (105 reviews)
97% (105 reviews)

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Family-friendly beach camping near Parksville guide

Overview

For a campers’ getaway to the beach on Vancouver Island’s eastern shore, Parksville, British Columbia, Canada, is popular with families. Broad, sandy Parksville Beach seems to stretch for miles, while Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park has hiking trails along the ocean and through the forest, plus a 275-site campground a short walk from the beach. Other Parksville camping options include riverside, lakeside, and oceanfront campgrounds and RV parks, most with full or partial hook-ups, washrooms, hot showers, and wi-fi. Parksville isn’t the most secluded place for campers, but all the services you need are nearby, and the beaches are undeniably beautiful.

Where to go

Qualicum Beach

Parksville’s “sister town,” this community of about 9,000 has art galleries, cafes, and independent shops. Yes, there’s a beach here, too.

Cathedral Grove

Some of Vancouver Island’s biggest trees grow toward the sky in MacMillan Provincial Park. Highway 4, 30 kilometres west of Parksville, runs directly through the park, and you can follow short hiking trails beneath the giant firs.

Denman Island

For an easy island escape, catch the 10-minute ferry to this expanse of dense forests, rocky beaches, and small local shops. The ferry to Denman Island departs from Buckley Bay, 30 minutes north of Parksville.

Tofino, Ucluelet, and the Pacific Coast

On Vancouver Island’s west coast, the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet feel completely different than Parksville—more secluded, quirkier, yet with top-notch restaurants and striking natural scenery. Take time to explore Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, with its beaches, hiking routes, and oceanside camping spots.

When to go

A short trip from Vancouver or Victoria, Parksville BC is a popular weekend getaway year-round. Both the town and the Parksville campgrounds and RV resorts are busiest during the warm summer months. Campground reservations are required at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park from late June through early September. Parksville campgrounds are less crowded in spring or fall, with mild if sometimes drizzlier days. Expect rain in winter, but temperatures rarely drop below freezing, so you can hike or explore the beaches all year.

Know before you go

  • From Vancouver, take BC Ferries’ car ferry from Horseshoe Bay (north of Vancouver) to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay. It’s a 35-minute drive north from Nanaimo to Parksville. Reserve a spot on the ferry for your car or RV in summer, or on holidays or weekends year-round. 
  • No vehicle? You don’t need reservations to walk onto the ferry, and you’ll save on your ferry ticket. Regular buses travel between Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay. While bus service between Nanaimo and Parksville is less convenient, you can manage car-free once you reach your Parksville campground.
  • You can find most anything that you’d need for a Parksville camping adventure in stores around town.

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