Where is the Cowichan Valley?
The Cowichan Valley is located on Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The Cowichan Valley stretches from Mill Bay and Malahat in the south to Ladysmith in the North. It also goes west and includes the communities surrounding Cowichan Lake. The principle settlement is Duncan - and is approximately 50 km north of the provincial capital Victoria.
How to get to the Cowichan Valley
First you need to get yourself to Vancouver Island. There are several car ferry routes serving Vancouver Island. BC Ferries moves travellers from Vancouver on the lower mainland to the main centres on the island. There are also 2 ferry routes from the United States to Vancouver Island.
Travelling from the BC Interior and points east
The best choice is to stay on the Trans Canada Highway eastbound until you reach the Horsehoe Bay Terminal in West Vancouver. There you can take a BC Ferry to Downtown Nanaimo at Departure Bay (sailing lasts 1.5 hours). From Departure Bay follow the signs to Trans Canada Highway 1 southbound to reach the Cowichan Valley. Duncan is about 40 minutes south of Nanaimo.
An alternative option is to exit the Trans Canada Highway at Highway 10 and follow the signs to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. From Tsawwassen you can take the ferry to Duke Point just south of Nanaimo (sailing lasts 2 hours). From Duke Point follow the signs for Highway 19 East for 5 minutes and then follow the signs to Trans Canada Highway 1 south bound toward Victoria. Duncan is about 30 minutes from Duke Point.
Travelling from Seattle Washington
When travelling from Seattle there are 4 options:
Head north of Interstate 5 till you reach the Canadian border. I5 becomes Highway 99 north of the border. Head north on 99 for about 25 minutes and then exit at Highway 17 towards the BC Ferry terminal at Tsawwassen. From there you can board a ferry to Duke Point (follow directions above) .
Head north of Interstate 5 till you reach the Canadian border. I5 becomes Highway 99 north of the border. Head north on 99 for about 25 minutes and then exit and Highway 17 towards the BC Ferry terminal at Tsawwassen. From there you can board a ferry to Swartz Bay (Victoria). From Swartz Bay head south on Highway 17 towards Victoria and then take Exit 7 towards Highway 1 and Nanaimo. Then follow Trans Canada Highway 1 North for about 50 minutes to reach Duncan.
You can also travel to Port Angeles Washington on the Olympic Peninsula and then take the Coho Ferry to Downtown Victoria. From there you drive north on the Trans Canada Highway 1 for about 1 hour to reach Duncan.
An alternative option (summer only) is to drive north on I5 and then take exit 230 toward Anacortes (via Highway 20). At Anacortes you can take a Ferry through the San Juan Islands to Sidney (just north of Victoria). At Sidney head south on Highway 17 towards Victoria and then take Exit 7 towards Highway 1 and Nanaimo. Then follow Trans Canada Highway 1 for about 50 minutes to reach Duncan.
Click here for BC Ferries Information
Click here for Port Angeles Ferry Information
Click here for Anacortes Ferry Information
Duncan does not have a commercial airport but is served by flights to Victoria International Airport and the Nanaimo Airport. Float plane service is also available between Maple Bay just east of Duncan to Downtown Vancouver via Harbour Air.