From the parking lot, it is a short easy hike to the caves. I suited up in my hard protective hat, kneepads, layers of clothing, hiking boots and of course, my headlamp. Be prepared for the dark and dampness of the caves. I suggest you travel light, leaving your backpack in the car because there are some parts of the cave that are a tight squeeze - I stuffed my pockets with all I needed for the trip.
I strongly recommend exploring these caves with a guide. My guide Richard was terrific as he was a wealth of information with regards to all the mind-blowing rock formations we were seeing. The caves presented a magical underground playground where I was able to bend, squeeze, stretch and duck into all sorts of crevices - although I had to be mindful not to touch any of the crystal formations in the cave. Any human contact can cause permanent and irreparable deterioration. Some of these formations have taken thousands of years to form; some date back to the last Ice Age. I was excited to have the opportunity to observe these amazing natural formations, but I was acutely aware of the importance of respecting this natural environment.
The cave we explored was pitch black; only our headlamps lit our way. The interior was dark, damp and had a sci-fi vibe and look to it. I felt like I was entering another world - a lightless and lifeless place. I was glad I was prepared and had brought my rollerblade kneepads as they helped me to squeeze and crawl around with confidence - I wished I had also thought to bring along a pair of gloves to protect my hands. As we moved deeper into the cave, I realized it was important for our group to move in single file to focus the light on the path ahead, rather than having it disperse to the outer edges of the cave.
This adventure was both fun and educational, as I learned about the cave’s geology and history. I recommend the experience for the whole family, and for those who are adventurers at heart. Knowledgeable guides accompany you and describe the different formations before you. There are guided and self-guided caves to choose from.
The cave park is located 60 km north of Nanaimo, 55 km south of Courtenay. Turn at the Provincial Park sign at the Horne Lake Exit #75 and follow the signs for 12 km along the narrow gravel road. Drive slowly and be alert for oncoming traffic.
Telephone: (250) 248-7829