Summer Bucket List, in Our Backyard

Images Courtesy Ashley Degraaf

Images Courtesy Ashley Degraaf

I’ve always wanted to create a summer bucket list. I’ve had high hopes. I’ve had big dreams. I’ve never done it. I thought this summer was THE summer that I’d get to do that, however I’ve yet again gone into survival mode. Let’s consider how long it took me to get this post together (I had wanted to publish it at the start of summer)… that’s a good indication how crazy it gets around here.

This has been my status quo since I started my own business. We get through the sunny months one day at a time and I somehow manage to squeeze every ounce of energy into swimming, bike riding, hiking with the dogs, cleaning the house, watering plants, photo sessions and editing. Oh and feeding the kids, AND REPEAT!

However, as soon as September rolls around I’m always disappointed I didn’t get a chance to do certain things. There are so many amazing places around Vancouver Island that this Island-born and raised mom hasn't experienced yet. I’m talking about myself. Goats on the roof in Coombs, nope! Taking a stroll along the breathtaking Long Beach in Tofino, nope!

Thanks to contributions from my lovely West Coast Moms writers, together we’ve created a pretty kick-ass bucket list post. Enough to get the most drained-out mother (Hello!) out of her funk and inspired to explore.

That includes me! (So thank you girls!)


Ocean Fun

We are lucky to have so many beaches to explore along the the coast. As I already mentioned I’ve never been to Tofino and that’s definitely on my bucket list. I drool over my Instagram friend’s story posts as they’re walking along Long Beach, with miles of sand in view and the sun glistening off the water… TAKE ME THERE!

“We love camping on lakes because of the great swimming but nothing beats a big beach day on the ocean,” says Kristy Symes. “We will spend a day in Parksville making a crab house and catching crabs to fill it with, flying kites, munching on Coombs baked goods, building a giant castle to stand on when the tide comes in.”

Side note: Coombs is where you will find goats munching on grass on top of the Coombs Old Country Market while you dine. It’s very weird, but VERY COOL. Everyone has to experience it. Another side note: spending the day at the City Beach in Parksville and checking out the bumper boats was also on Amber Regamey Marsh’s bucket list.

Hers also included spending a day in Coombs and snacking on her favourite Chai Tea Ice Cream.

Amber’s list also includes visiting the beach in Sooke and walking down to the waterfall at Sandcut Beach, as well as stopping by, “Botanical Beach (in Port Renfrew) for the hundredth time because it's worth every visit.”

And she’s not the only one thinking about Tofino

“Drink wine with my husband from my private hot tub on the deck of a cabin in Tofino,” was on her list too.

Kristie Sykes and her daughter have already crossed off a short camping trip off the coast of Tofino (to Flores Island), which was incredible, in her words. “I would however love for the whole family to head up for a weekend, because kids + beaches = just works!”

Our other Kristy is hoping they will get to spend a day on Newcastle Island. “The kids love riding the ferry over and trekking around the island to all the different cool beach spots and finding all sorts of treasures.”

And our Jocelyn Lundberg would love to spend an afternoon in Port Renfrew.

“Even though I’ve been to Port Renfrew many times I would love to take a drive out to the coast to spend the afternoon at the beach,” she says. “I haven’t tried out my baby hiking carrier yet so it might be the perfect opportunity to hit a trail or two while I’m out there.”

Last but not least under the beach theme, Cherry Point Beach in Cowichan Bay is the bomb on a low-tide day.

“The beach is so lovely and usually fairly quiet (especially on weekdays),” says Kristie. “My kids can go exploring all day long without tiring!”


Hiking Adventures

I’ve really been into hiking again since we got another dog that has a crazy amount of energy. I have a few hiking spots that I’ve had on my list that I want to cross off. One of those includes Stoney Hill Regional Park in Genoa Bay overlooking the beautiful Saltspring Island. It looks especially cool when there are boaters passing through the channel from so high above. I say this from personal experience because I have in fact hiked to the first view point with photography clients, however I’ve never done the full 3.2 km loop and I’d love to.

I’ve already crossed off my list Christopher Rock in Youbou, named after a fellow who loved to hike there before he passed away. It may not have the best signage and the terrain is fairly steep, but it’s worth every fall on the butt on the way down. I recently took a friend up and she was in awe! You get an amazing 180 degree view of Cowichan Lake.

Amber’s list included three hiking locations.

One was Holland Creek Trail in Ladysmith and possibly extending that hike with the 10 km Heart Lake loop.

“Hike up Mt. Tzouhalem (in Maple Bay) and get my own photo at the cross and see the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Prevost,” was also on her list.

Both the last two are hikes in the Duncan area. The cross she refers to is one that was erected by the local First Nations and churches…

If this peaks your interest, click here for a great article about the history of the cross.

Getting THE “cross photo” has been on many people’s bucket lists.



“Last year my bestie and I took our kids camping at Gordon Bay campsite in Honeymoon Bay on our own,” says Kristy. “It was pure bliss! While one of us cooked dinner, the other took the kids to the park. While one did the dishes, the other read them stories and gave them bucket baths.”

Because they are both primary caregivers, they were able to understand when the other needed help.

“We were efficient and fun, and well, very under-slept. Great memories were made and we can't wait to make more this year.”

Jocelyn also wants to get out camping. “It doesn’t matter where, just as long as the family and I can disconnect for a few nights and enjoy the outdoors,” she says.


Local Activities/Other

“In reality, I'll grab an ice cream at the ball park concession, see the sun rise from the car as we drive up to Campbell River for a double header, have wine at the Comfort Inn in Comox and maybe see some whales on the ferry ride to the mainland for a tournament,” Amber says of her baseball adventures with her kids. “But I'll savour every minute because even from the car, our island is an absolutely beautiful place to enjoy.”

Both Kristie and Kristy included music in the park on their lists.

“We took the kids last summer to Cobble Hill for their ‘Music in the Park’ not fully sure what to expect, and our expectations were blown away,” Kristie says. “The kids had the most amazing time running around with all of the other kids and grooving to the music, and we were able to chill on a blanket from afar, while keeping them in sight.” 

We are lucky enough to be privy to many outdoor music events in the Cowichan Valley.

They include music at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus and 39 Days of July in downtown Duncan.

“I can't wait to pick up some pizza or grab food from a truck and lay out on a blanket and enjoy some music while the kids dance around us,” Kristy says.

Kristie added visiting the BC Forest Discover Centre in Duncan on her list.

“It should come as no surprise that my kids love the Forest Museum (what kid doesn’t?), and love to ride the train. Since I only work three days per week, we will no doubt end up there on multiple week-day occasions this summer. It is so nice to go during the week when it is relatively quiet and you don’t have to wait in any lines.”

A few other things I included on my list is going boating with friends, trying a few new parks, getting to the ever-so-popular Transfer Beach in Ladysmith for a day, and simply spending time with friends and family. We always do an assortment of activities and in various ways create loads of fun memories. PS: Port Renfrew is one of our favourite getaway locations. These may seem like obvious summer activities, but I have to be realistic of what we’re able to do.

Kristy was also realistic with her goals.

Home improvement projects was on her list.

“Wahmp wahmmmm. Yep, so boring. We have some major and some minor home improvement projects to cross off our list this summer. And unfortunately, there really is no better time for these. I hate using our precious free summer days for this but luckily we will mix it up with all the fun things above,” she says.

Last but not least, moms need a break too (heck yes!)

Jocelyn’s list included hitting up Lake Town Ranch’s Sunfest music festival. This year’s headliners include Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, and Terri Clark. The festival takes place this weekend (have fun Joc!)

“I would love to have a parents night out during Sunfest. I go every year and even though the whole weekend likely isn’t doable this year, I’m hoping for one night where my man and I can go out and get our country on!”

There it is! I hope you can find some inspiration from our bucket lists!

Please follow along on our Instagram page. We will be featuring photos from what we’ve been up to this week!

Ashley Degraaf