Exploring Vancouver Island with American Express

It was a crazy few months waiting and preparing for the arrival of our son. Shortly after his birth, it was clear that we needed a family vacation. I don’t know about you, but we had such beautiful weather this summer, we needed to get away and go somewhere to enjoy the outdoors. So, we planned a trip to Vancouver Island for a family holiday.  As we were travelling with an infant, we wanted a vacation that would offer some beautiful locations to enjoy the sunshine, while also being family-friendly.  We found a flight from Calgary to Comox which was extremely convenient, and with a baby, 1.5 hours in the air was much preferred over 2 days of driving!  We planned the trip fairly last minute because we wanted to see how baby Cruz was doing. Since he is such a good baby, we were up for taking on a flight with a 4-year-old and a 4-week-old.  Luckily, we were able to secure tickets with ease by tapping into the Travel Team, thanks to our American Express Platinum Card.


One of our first stops on the trip was a visit to Hornby Island.  Located in the Salish Sea, near Comox Valley, Hornby Island is a hidden gem which requires two ferries if travelling by vehicle.  We purchased the round-trip ferry fare using our American Express Platinum Card, securing more Membership Rewards points.  Hornby Island is home to Tribune Bay Provincial Park and Helliwell Provincial Park; these parks are worth the trip alone!  Tribune Bay offers beautiful crystal clear ocean waters (which are quite warm in the summer months) and white sand.  We did not take our children with us to Hornby Island because we had childcare for the day, but it’s a perfect place for children to play and swim. It’s also a great spot to enjoy a picnic or take a snooze in the sand, so we enjoyed both! Helliwell Park includes cliffs overlooking the ocean and they are stunning.  It was a warm, humid August night when we took a stroll through the park for some photos and it was one of those magical summer nights you dream of all winter long. 

A milestone birthday fell on our trip (my 40th) and we spent the afternoon at Beaufort Vineyard & Estate Winery owned by director James Cameron.  This was one of the nicest wine tasting experiences we have ever enjoyed.  What made it so nice is that they offered our group of 4 adults (Jessica’s parents joined us for part of the holiday) a table to sit at rather than tasting the wines at a stand-up counter.  They took their time going through the background of the grapes and the winemaking process.  Once we were done our tasting and had selected the wines we wanted to purchase, we were able to enjoy some sips outside on the deck along with the picnic lunch we had packed.  Our view overlooked the vineyard and needless to say it was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

We also celebrated an anniversary on this trip (15 years!) and to honour this occasion we packed up the kids in our rental vehicle and headed to Cathedral Grove. When booking your rental through the Platinum Card Travel Service Team you can also make arrangements to have the car picked up or dropped off through the Concierge team .The transaction accrued more Membership Reward points and covered us with the insurance we needed for the rental and making for a worry-free trip. Since we booked with our Platinum Card we were insured with our Card so we were able to waive any additional coverage which saved us even more money. We were also able to select the perfect size vehicle at the time of pick up and it was great to have the wheels for driving and exploring the winding coast highway.   Cathedral Grove is a special part of MacMillan Provincial Park as it is home to majestic ancient Douglas fir trees, some as old as 800 years.  We have visited the forest a few times in past but a highlight of this visit was seeing the forest through the eyes of our 4-year-old daughter, Sydney.    From Cathedral Grove we headed to the quaint coastal town of Qualicum Beach and enjoyed sunset at Ocean Front.  Despite the smoke from forest fires it was another one of those warm magical evenings.  The ocean water was warm and clear and Sydney discovered a crab, her first time finding one in the wild.  It was an evening spent creating memories that we will always look back on.

Comox is a favourite as Jessica’s dad grew up in the area and many childhood memories were made there. It’s special to now see our own children create similar memories with these experiences.  By using our American Express Platinum Card, for various things along the way, we were able to earn points to put towards our next family vacation. Take the time to take your loved ones on an adventure. It does good for the soul.

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada.  The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

An entrepreneur, creator, father & husband from Calgary, Scott Bakken is inspiring a generation of creatives to live their best life.