Four season living on the East Coast of Vancouver Island

Where can you go ocean kayaking in the morning, cycling at lunch and downhill skiing in the afternoon? You can do all that and more in beautiful Courtenay, B.C. The urban and cultural heart of the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, Courtenay is not just a place you retire to, it is a four-season paradise with a relaxed quality of life. With easy access to Vancouver and Victoria, why wait until you've retired to enjoy some of the best the west coast lifestyle has to offer?

comox lake with mountains in the background
By David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada (Comox Lake) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A few facts

Here are some fun facts about Courtenay that you may not have known. For example:

  • Over 25,000 people call Courtenay home according to Stats Canada. Over 6,600 of those residents are over the age of 65.
  • In 1946 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake was registered west of Courtenay. The tremors could be felt as far south as Portland, Oregon and as far north as Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
  • Celebrities who have lived or were born in Courtenay include Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”), Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire) and Simon Nessman (model).
  • Courtney is the ancestral home of the K’ómoks First Nation. European settlers arrived in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver anchored in what is now known as Comox Harbour.

What to do

Spend a day in Courtenay and you will see why the K’ómoks First Nation named the area “the land of plenty.” A true four-season community, there is something for everyone no matter the time of year.

Winter sports are all the rage at the Mount Washington Alpine Resort area which is a short 35-minute drive from downtown Courtenay. Downhill, cross country, snowshoeing and winter tubing are all at your feet. Not to be forgotten, summer at Mount Washington means ski runs become mountain bike trails and the alpine hiking is unparalleled on the island.

people skiing in winter
Mount Washington ski resort, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Via iwona_kellie on Flickr

Spring and summer bring a Mediterranean-like climate to the area so it is perfect for hiking in one of the over 11 provincial parks in the Comox Valley. The largest of these is Strathcona Provincial Park, which also happens to be the oldest provincial park in British Columbia (est 1911).

buttle lake with mountains in the background
Buttle Lake Inlet in Strathcona Provincial Park Roger Sylvia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Fishing, cycling and ocean kayaking in Comox Harbour and the Strait of Georgia are also high on the list of activities, as is tubing down the Puntledge River.

elderly ladies rowing a kayak
2012 Victor Simonson Dragon Boat Regatta, Comox, BC via Ken McVay on Flickr
a body of water
Whitewater on the Puntledge River at Nymph Falls near Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada. By David Stanley on Flickr

For the gourmands, there are plenty of unique shops to visit and dining options range from neighbourhood favourites to fine dining. You can also check out the two microbreweries, two craft distilleries and four wineries in the region. If you are in the mood for seafood, you must head into Comox and buy it fresh off the docks from the fishermen when they come in.

shot of a lake, boats, houses, and mountains
Via Gerry Thomasen on Flickr


Whether you are looking for a getaway retreat or a full-time residence, there are plenty of options for you to explore. One of the most popular areas is referred to as Courtenay East which overlooks the downtown and towards the eastern part of the Comox Peninsula. It is close to the city airport and borders the nearby town of Comox.

As one of the newer parts of town, it boasts big box stores and easy access to the newly-opened Comox Valley Hospital.

Instagram screenshot of the Comox Valley hospital
Via rebeccacampbell2695 on Instagram

Spring, summer, autumn or winter, there is no better place to call home than Courtenay, British Columbia. See you on the slopes.

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