Nanaimo in Vancouver Island BC
Nanaimo is Vancouver Island’s second largest city and the gateway to the rest of the island. Victoria
is a 1 ½ hour drive south; the road to the Pacific Rim lies 35km to the north and Comox and Campbell River
on the east central coast can both be reached within two hours.
That doesn’t mean you should overlook the city itself. As well as being conveniently located, Nanaimo allows you to enjoy backcountry pursuits without having to give up the pleasures of urban life.
Unlike some of Vancouver Island’s more remote towns, Nanaimo has most of the big city attractions such as shopping malls, clubs and cinemas for those who crave the buzz of civilization.
If your time on Vancouver Island is limited, Nanaimo is the perfect place to sample a little of everything that the island has to offer without having to travel too far.
Westwood Lake offers numerous trails, fishing (mainly rainbow and cutthroat trout) and easy biking and hiking trails. From the lake, you can take the more challenging Westwood Ridge across to Mount Benson. At the peak you can take in views across to the BC mainland, down the eastern seaboard of Vancouver Island and into the interior wilderness.
The Morrell Nature sanctuary close by also provides a series of easy hiking trails through second-growth forests, ponds and marshland.
Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park is just a ten-minute ferry ride away and features hike and bike trails as well as bays and caves that can be explored by kayak or canoe.
For divers, Nanaimo’s underwater attractions include three artificial reefs, high-speed drift dives at Dodd Narrows, the marine sanctuary of Gabriola Passage in the northern Gulf Islands and Snake Island where you can also give seal snorkelling a go.
Another unusual Nanaimo activity is the bathtub race that takes place during the Nanaimo Marine Festival in late July.
Other regional attractions include the sandy beaches and seaside attractions of Parksville and Qualicum Beach to the north, the artsy Gabriola Island which is 20-minutes offshore from Nanaimo and the village of Chemainus to the south which is known for its murals.
Nanaimo - Vancouver Island BC