Who Said Photography
Medicine bowls in courtenay
Down Arrow

A Photo-trip to the Medicine bowls Courtenay

What gave rise to the Medicine Bowls Courtenay? Beautiful pools and  waterfalls formed in the rocks of the bowls by hundreds of millions of years of erosion. Thrill seekers jump in the bowls. Further down is a swimming hole and a rope swing, although I didn’t try either. I was here to photography this popular location.

Table of Contents

What are the waterfalls Medicine Bowls in Courtenay?

The waterfalls at the Medicine Bowls are actually a series of three cascades, with each one tumbling down into a large pool below. The pools are popular swimming holes in summer, but can be dangerous due to fast-moving currents and cold water temperatures.

The best time to photograph the bowls are during high water flows in winter and late spring, when all three cascades are flowing strongly.

The lower waterfalls at the Medicine Bowls

Lower Bowls at the medicine bowls in Courtenay

Getting to the lower bowls will not be easy. You will need to climb down a steep embankment and, where necessary, use the rope provided. Use caution, as the rocks are slippery and sharp at the bottom. It would be easy to twist an ankle and stumble.

Once there, you will see a bank of polished rocks as the result of the erosion. Beautiful to see and photograph. There is also a large swimming hole at the bottom and a rope swing. I made my way around to the opposite side to photograph the falls. Once done, go back the way you came. There is more to see!

The upper waterfalls Medicine Bowls

Upper Bowls at the Medicine Bowls in Courtenay BC Vancouver Island

Back at the road look for a plaque nailed to a tree commemorating the two boys who drowned here in 2001. Follow the trail as it leads you to the upper pools and the gorgeous streams carved into smooth rocks through millions or thousands of years of erosion. Be cautious as the rock can be slippery. This is another fantastic place to set up and photograph the area.

Prepare For a bumpy drive to the waterfalls know as medicine bowls in Courtenay

The Medicine Bowls are located outside of Courtenay, British Columbia. To get there, take Piercy Rd to Forbidden Plateau Rd. Follow Forbidden Plateau Rd for 14 KM. You will find parking just as the pavements end. Following the U-turn, goes to the abandon ski hill.

If you are a little more adventures. You could attempt to drive down Medicine Bowl Road. It’s an old logging road and needs repairs. There are pull-outs along the way. A decent 4×4 should have no issues.

Map Of Medicine Bowls Comox Valley

What to bring:

Bring plenty of water and snacks, as there is no water or food available at the Medicine Bowls. Also, be sure to wear sturdy shoes as the trail can be slippery in places.

Hiking tips for the Medicine Bowls

This 3.4-km out-and-back path takes 52 minutes on to hike. Typically thought of as a simple trip, there are a few precautions.

Although the hike to the Medicine Bowls is not difficult. It’s a fantastic logging road with stunningly lined trees and loads of intriguing terrain. Once there, getting to the waterfalls and the bowls has its challenges. There are some difficult climbing passages.

Allow yourself plenty of time to explore. There are several waterfalls and pools to discover!

Although this is a well-enjoy hiking trail, you will find it’s a quiet in the early mornings and a joy to photograph.

Dangers of the waterfalls at the Medicine bowls in Courtenay

Please take care while at the bowls. People have been hurt and have drowned while jumping into the bowls. Back in the early 1990 I lost a good friends to the bowls.

The waterfalls at the Medicine bowls in Courtenay can be dangerous if you’re not careful. There are a few things to watch out for:

  • The rocks can be slippery, so be careful when walking around them.
  • There is a strong current in the water, so swimming and jumping into the bowls is not recommended.

What to do if you get hurt:

If you do happen to get hurt while at the waterfall, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. There are a few things you can do to help yourself before getting help:

  • Apply pressure to any bleeding wounds with a clean cloth.
  • If you have a broken bone, try to immobilize the area as best as possible.
  • If you’re feeling faint or have any other serious symptoms, call 911 immediately.

How to avoid getting hurt:

The best way to avoid getting hurt is by being aware of your surroundings and being cautious. Here are some tips:

  • Wear proper footwear that has good traction. Avoid flip flops or sandals. -Stay on marked trails and paths and don’t venture off into areas that are not well-lit or well-traveled.
  • Don’t swim in the waterfalls.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t take unnecessary risks.

Tips for photographing the waterfalls at the medicine bowls?

Tips for photographing waterfalls in a medicine bowl include using a wide-angle lens and a telephoto to capture the entire waterfall. I prefer using a slower shutter speed to get that silky smooth water look.

  •  Look for interesting compositions when scouting locations. Waterfalls are often best photographed from above, looking down into the medicine bowl. This allows you to include more of the waterfall in the frame and also shows off the scale of the feature.
  •  Try to include other elements in the composition to add interest and scale. Rocks, trees, and foliage can all make great foreground subjects.
  •  Use a long lens to compress the scene and make the waterfall appear larger in relation to its surroundings. This can help emphasize the power and majesty of the falls.


 A slow shutter speed is typically used to photograph waterfalls, as it helps capture that silky smooth water look. Start with a shutter speed of 1/4 second and adjust as needed based on conditions (more on this in our how to photography waterfall guide).

2) A small aperture (higher f-stop number) will help ensure everything from foreground to background is in sharp focus. Again, start with f/8 or f/11 and adjust as needed based on conditions and your desired depth of field effect

Other photo locations in the area

Browns River Falls

Discover Browns River Falls, this 1.3-kilometer out-and-back trail in the area of Puntledge, British Columbia. It typically takes 27 minutes to finish and is regarded as being simple. There won’t be many other hikers or runners along this path, which is perfect for bird watching and other outdoor activities.

Trent River Falls

Enjoy Trent River Falls this 2.1-km out-and-back track in British Columbia close to Comox Valley A. It takes 33 minutes on average to accomplish what is typically thought of as an easy journey. Although this route is well-liked for hiking and strolling, you may still find some peace and quiet during the slower periods of the day.

Seal Bay Park

 The park spans over 1500 acres and boasts of an extensive trail system that offers visitors opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing. The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Seal Bay Nature Park is a beautiful and popular destination.

Our Latest Blogs