Who’s ready to do a bit of wildlife-watching this spring? Seal Bay Nature Park in the small town of Courtenay offers visitors plenty of forested hiking and horseback riding trails to explore, in addition to a wide stretch of beach that is perfect for spotting seals and other marine life this time of year.

One and a half times the size of Stanley Park, Seal Bay boasts panoramic views of the coast and forest, protecting 642 hectares of biodiversity and wildlife. Among the protected habitats are a range of rare plant communities, like hardhack (spirea), wetlands, trembling aspen, Pacific crab apple, and slough sedge.

The nature park is divided into two sections: The waterfront side (east) and the marsh area on the inland (west) side of the road. On the former side, visitors can explore well-groomed trails meandering through a second-growth forest, which includes a seasonal waterfall.

Three trails lead down to the waterfront: Ravine/saʔpɛt, Don Apps, and Eagle/q̓ayk̓ʷ. Here, harbour seals can be seen lounging on rocks throughout the bay throughout the year.

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Park amenities & info

Park amenities include benches, a dog bag dispenser, wheelchair facilities, and an outhouse.

Note that the paths leading down to the waterfront come with a “somewhat strenuous” climb back up to the beach, and no bikes or horses are allowed on this side of Bates Road.

Dogs must be leashed year-round.

Other draws of Courtenay to explore include the historic Courtenay Riverway heritage trail, the Comox Valley Art Gallery, the Sid Williams Theatre, and the nearby Nymph Falls Nature Park.

So there you have it, nature lovers. If you’re looking for a scenic park to check out on your next trip to the island, Seal Bay is a great spot to add to your itinerary!

Seal Bay Nature Park 

Where: Bates Road, Courtenay