On one of our first evenings in Courtenay, my high school classmate now living in Courtenay introduced us to the Courtenay Riverway. It’s a bike and pedestrian path that runs from just east of the 5th Avenue Bridge all the way to the Courtenay River Estuary. On the first evening, we only walked partway to the Marina. However, I went back a few days later on my own to take some photos.
The first part of the Riverway on the western end near 6th Street takes you past a hardware store and just behind Courtenay City Hall. For the most part, there is not much of a view in the first stretch here. You get to walk just above the river shore about a block inland. It’s not until I got past the 17th Street Bridge that things got more interesting.
This is Locals Restaurant. It’s attached to the Old House Village Hotel & Spa. It’s a fancy restaurant attached to some fancy accommodations. Locals, as their name suggests, serves food with a strong local connection to the surrounding Comox Valley and Vancouver Island. It’s supposed to be one of the best restaurants in town with the price tag to match. I did not go and try Locals. On this day as I was passing by, it looked like workers were putting the finishing touches on this new location. It is a lovely old cottage home that seems the most appropriate place for a restaurant like Locals.
Across on the other side of the Courtenay River, things did not look so picturesque. The empty husk of an abandoned building sat there on a giant empty space alongside the Old Island Highway. It sat in stark contrast to the green on the south side of the river. However, I thought the building had a nice industrial edge to it, but who knows what will happen next to that plot of land.
A little further down, there was the Courtenay Marina Park just nestled into a little nook in the Courtenay River. Only about a dozen or so boats could fit in this marina. However, this particular marina also doubles as the Courtenay Water Aerodrome.
There was only the one single red float plane in dock at the moment. But the bright red really caught my eye. We also saw this plane the evening we walked around with my classmate. On that evening, there was a family of otters resting up on the dock right beside the plane. I took a photo with my iPhone, but it’s hard to see the otters in that photo. They are in the lower right hand corner of the photo below.
Then just next door to the Marina is the Courtenay Airpark. At first when I looked on a map of Courtenay, I thought this was their commercial airport. Wrong. It’s a hobby airpark for those who want to learn to fly a plane or spend their time flying planes. It’s a neat little airpark along the river. This day, there were a couple of pilots earning their wings.
Just to the east of the airpark is the Courtenay River Estuary. I think this is my favourite part of the Riverway. The Courtenay River simply opens up here and spills out into the Strait of Georgia. The estuary is wide and open. It is beautiful and natural. On this sunny day, there were some people working along the banks near the airpark. It looks like they may have been collecting marine samples for study. I’m not sure.
Right at the mouth of the river, there is a little hill that gives a great elevated vantage point to see the whole estuary. I like how the city of Courtenay has also provided plenty of benches for people to sit and enjoy the view. I imagine the view must be even prettier in the evening.
Then there were the rocks right at the mouth of the estuary. They were covered in green algae and glistened in the midday sun. I just had to get up close for a better photo of the rocks. It was wonderful. Coming from the city, I can’t help but appreciate how clean and green everything is on Vancouver Island. The air feels cleaner and the water is definitely much clearer.
After walking from the Cona Hostel all the way to edge of the estuary, I was pretty tired, but very inspired by the beauty along the Courtenay Riverway. My bottle of water had been empty for a long time already. It was time to walk back up to Cliffe Avenue and stop by the McDonald’s for a $1 summer drink.