Cool off in Port Alberni with easy, fun summer adventures
Despite being almost the exact centre of Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is surrounded by access to water and adventure. That’s because the lush Alberni Valley, unceded traditional territory of the Tse-shaht and Hupacasath First Nations, is perched on beautiful freshwater beaches (like Sproat Lake), cool waterfalls and lazy rivers that all flow into one of the longest ocean inlets in the world.
What is there to do in Port Alberni? Think paddling on calm lakes, windsurfing or kiteboarding on the ocean, beach time, farmers’ markets, food trucks, houseboating, easy hikes, natural history and Indigenous culture, culinary delights and patio time. To list just a few.
Cool off by the water for a few hours, for a day or more while adventuring the island this summer.
#ExplorePortAlberni for summer fun
Here are some ways to get into the action on the water and around town. Follow these three simple steps, and mix and match the suggestions in each to fill a day, two days or more with Port Alberni adventure. Get out and #ExplorePortAlberni for some summer fun!
Step 1: Chill on the water
Want to relax and cool off? Spread out your beach towels, strip down and shake off all your worries with these water adventures. Here’s how to do it.
Take a dip, or a rip, at Sproat Lake
Sproat Lake is the lake that gives the Alberni Valley its reputation as the “Okanagan of the Island.” Swimming, water skiing or wakeboarding are just a few options. For a truly special connection to local culture, seek out the petroglyphs at the east end of the lake. (Check with BC Parks for access info to this sensitive area.)
Have a beach day at Cameron Lake
Take a swim or have a picnic with friends at the beach at Little Qualicum Provincial Park, off Highway 4 just east of Coombs in the Alberni Valley.
Float down the river
On a hot day, grab a tube and float down the Stamp River (below Stamp Falls and above the Paper Mill Dam). It’s a popular local way to cool off.
Catch the wind in Alberni Inlet
Let the wind fill your sail and you can catch some big air kitesurfing off the launch by the Maritime Discovery Centre lighthouse. Best places for this include Harbour Quay and Canal Beach.
Dive in Barkeley Sound
From the Alberni harbour, it’s a short trip out to top scuba diving spots where you can marvel at the underwater beauty of the marine world on the West Coast.
Step 2: Find some fun around town
In between refreshing dips and wild watery fun, spice things up with some time at Port Alberni’s hip shops, waterfront eateries and cultural landmarks.
Kitsukis Dyke Trail, not far from Victoria Quay, offers a paved walking path to a small waterfall flowing beneath a trestle bridge, connecting to parks and amenities.
Victoria Quay - Grab some takeout from Bare Bones Fish ‘n’ Chips and head for the quay to watch for black bears across the river at the Somass Estuary and awe at the towering Welcome Figures (totems) carved by local Hupacasath First Nations carvers.
Harbour Quay - Stroll along the waterfront and pop in to the local shops, galleries and eateries. The Donut Shop is always a popular stop!
If you’re hungry or thirsty from your adventures, read on.
Step 3: Savour local food and drink
With local farms and craft producers feeding into the Port Alberni culinary scene, there’s a ton of foodie experiences to explore. Waterfront patios, international flavours and fresh ingredients enliven the Port palate.
Farmers Markets & Farm experiences
Spirit Square Farmers Market (Harbour Quay)
Saturday, 9am - 12pm
Shop for local food and wares in the heart of Port Alberni.
Cherry Creek Farmers Market (6211 Cherry Creek Road)
Saturday, 9am - 1pm
With Mt. Arrowsmith as the backdrop, this is a great place to stock up for your next adventure.
Coleman Meadows Farm
Saturday, 10am - 2pm
Home to Water Buffalo Dairy, Coleman Meadows Farm is a unique Island farm to market experience where you can buy yogurt, gelato and cheese made on site.
Restaurants & food trucks
Searching for “restaurants near me” or “best eats in Port Alberni”? Here are a few of our faves (gleaned through countless hours of dedicated research by our ZenSeekers team):
All Mex’d Up - “some of the best authentic tacos on the Island,” writes ZenSeekers’ Chris Istace. He also recommends the churros.
The Donut Shop - Donuts here are legendary! A meal or refuel for any time of day.
Fish & Duck Pub - Lakeside patio with great eats featuring tasty vegetarian options.
Bare Bones Fish&Chips - Straightforward, satisfying fare to take away and eat at one of Alberni’s great waterside views.
Clutesi Haven Marina food truck pod - When a pod comes together, food becomes a party! Head over to Clutesi Haven Marina and take your pick from the collection of vendors there, including local Tseshat Nation creators.
Breweries & Distilleries
Always up for apres? The local craft spirit makers - 3 breweries, 2 new distilleries - are worth a visit, or may we suggest, a crawl?
Alberni Brewing Co.
Dog Mountain Brewing
Twin City Brewing Company
Antidote Distilling Co.
For a handy list of more restaurants, cafes and other foodie spots to suit every time and taste, visit Alberni Valley Tourism’s restaurant listings here.
Extend your stay
Go houseboating on Sproat Lake
Rent a 12- or 15-person houseboat through Fish & Duck Resort and enjoy the ultimate in relaxation on the water.
Connect to Indigenous Culture
Here for a couple days? For a day tour that will open your eyes, drive 1.5h from Port Alberni to Bamfield and make a visit to Kiixin Village, a 5000-year old Indigenous heritage site. Tours run daily - book yours here.
More ways to #ExplorePortAlberni
You can also find photo-worthy hot spots nearby, and some great hikes to waterfalls and views in under two hours in the verdant Alberni valley.
Check out these other itineraries, and for more travel inspiration visit Alberni Valley Tourism.