Here is an adventure you should seriously consider if you are in the Parksville/ Qualicum Beach area. Visit the Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park and take a subterranean tour. It is certainly worth the time and expense.
Apparently there are about a thousand caves on Vancouver Island but the most accessible are the Horne Lake Caves. About a year ago my good friend Tim and I headed to the Horne Lake Caves. We took a guided one hour tour of the main cave with two other couples and an excellent and knowledgeable guide. It was truly a fabulous experience. If you can’t walk uphill, climb over rocks and up and down ladders, watch a video. Caving is not for you. If you are claustrophobic, don’t even think about it! But if you are reasonably agile and fit you can do it.
You need good footwear. No Flip Flops or Crocs. It’s cool and damp underground, about 45F, 8C, so long sleeves and long pants is a good plan. The longer the tour, the more you will want to wear. Be sure and take your camera.
We began by walking up a long winding trail to the cave entrance. It was the most strenuous part of the tour. At the cave entrance we descended on a steep ladder into the cave then hiked some distance into the cave. Climbing over and around rocks, sometimes crouching where the ceiling is low, we saw stalagmites and stalagtites and many other interesting formations. The guide explained the history and the geology of everything we encountered. All quite fascinating.
We were all wearing helmets with headlamps, but at one point we all turned out our lights. Nothing could be darker than standing in an unlit cave. Literally, you could not see your fingers in front of your face. Black, period.
The main cave tour is $27 per person but there are several longer and pricier and more challenging experiences. All the tours and prices can be found on their website. There are some really good videos on the website too. Reservations are necessary. You can book by phone or online.
Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is just 30 kilometres north west of Qualicum Beach. Take the Horne Lake turn off Highway 19. Check it out.