From Qualicum Beach, follow Hwy. 19A, the "old highway" north, passing forests and viewpoints that look onto Denman and Hornby Islands in the Georgia Strait. Along the way, you'll pass through several small communities, including Fanny Bay. The area around Fanny Bay is Vancouver Island's most renowned oyster farming area; ask for Fanny Bay oysters by name at local restaurants. Just north of Fanny Bay is Buckley Bay, the ferry terminus for Denman and Hornby Islands.
"Flower children" were attracted to rural Hornby (pop. 1,300) and Denman (pop. 1,200) during the 1960s and 1970s. They started organic farms and thriving art communities on these remote islands off the coast of Vancouver Island. Both islands have maintained their bohemian charm, and they mostly deserve their reputation as colonies of "alternative" lifestyles; if you're looking for a laid-back place for a quiet family vacation, these islands are close to perfect. Hornby Island's beaches and provincial parks are another excellent reason to make the journey; and Helliwell Provincial Park features a hiking path along the edge of spectacular ocean-fronting cliffs. The gentle waters around and between these islands are famed for sea kayaking. For more information on Hornby and Denman Islands, go to www.hornbyisland.com and www.denmanisland.com.