If you’ve been thinking about visiting Parksville this summer and need a reason to go, now is the time. The Sandcastle competition has just finished, and the incredible sculptures are on display until August 19 in the Parksville Community Park on Corfield Road off Hwy 19A. These are a far cry from the adorable efforts of kids digging moats on the beach to encircle ‘castles’ molded with upside down sand pails. These sand sculptures are comparable to Campbell River’s driftwood carving competition – competitors come from all over the world come to create these more than lifesize fantasies made of specialized sand. For just a donation, you can wander through the exhibit and pick your favourite. My daughter Renée is shown here at right with her pick.
The talent is outstanding and it boggles the mind to think that all this effort will soon be no more than a mirage, as all the ‘sand’ structures dissolve and go back to whence they came.
Another good reason to visit Parksville is to try out a game of mini golf. They have one of the best courses around at Paradise Fun Park right on the main street – just challenging enough, with refreshing waterfalls to cool you off on a hot day.
We were there early, so had breakfast at Smitty’s, a good old fashioned restaurant that stands the test of time. That was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had, and I often eat breakfast out. I ordered a mushroom omelette – the mushrooms were sliced thin and perfectly sautéed, and there was more than enough to eat. Service was excellent, and I would definitely go back there again.
For lunch, we went to The Landing West Coast Grill at Pacific Shores, just south of Parksville in Nanoose Bay. Although it is in a timeshare condominium complex, the restaurant, which was launched by North Island College’s chef and instructor Christine Lilyholm, has a great menu and nice wine list that are both surprisingly reasonable considering the posh surroundings. Great views of the water too, especially if you sit out on the deck. But the highlight of the Grill is the two enormous fish tanks filled with local species from starfish to halibut shown here, that allow you to get up close and personal without getting wet.
To top off the day, stop in at Rathtrevor Beach, a provincial park. True to it’s name, the beach goes on forever at low tide – but be prepared, once the tide comes in, it comes in in a hurry. It’s a great place for kids to swim as it is shallow for some distance – but you do have to watch out for lots of crushed shells that can be hard on the feet.
So if you like to eat and play on a summer’s day, Parksville has it all!
For more on the sand sculptures – http://www.parksvillebeachfest.ca/