Top 10 Things to do in Nanaimo, BC

Centrally located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo can lay claim to a colourful and
interesting past as a Hudson’s Bay Company fort. Valuable coal was discovered in the
mid-1800s and mined from rich seams in the area for the burgeoning colonies of
Vancouver Island, British Columbia and the rest of the British Empire.

1. Taking a walking tour of the downtown area can bring much of this history alive in a
variety of sites. A good place to start is the Nanaimo Archives which can help plan your
historic tour. If you want something less formal, just get a downtown map, a good pair
of walking shoes and stroll around the old town on Victoria Crescent, Commercial Street
and Front Street. There are dozens of old storefronts and bars, as well as the antique
Palace Hotel on Skinner Street which will take you back in time just by walking past it.

2. From the harbour, ferries can transport you across to Newcastle Island Provincial Park,
or over to Gabriola Island where residents live the “island” life, separated from Nanaimo
by a short hop. From Departure Bay a few minutes north of Nanaimo, BC Ferries go to
and from Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver if you’re planning on a vehicle day trip to
Vancouver.

3. The Suneymuxw First Nations, members of the Coast Salish, have lived in this area for
millennia. There is plenty of evidence in the Nanaimo area to appreciate what their
culture was like pre-contact (before the arrival of the white man). Petroglyph Park, just
a 5 minute drive from downtown Nanaimo, has some startling examples which are
thousands of years old. There are also many cultural exhibits available for viewing in
the Nanaimo Museum on Cameron Road near the Vancouver Island Conference
Centre.

4. Another site not to be missed is the Nanaimo Bastion, a former Hudson’s Bay Company
outpost built in 1853, which is located just 1 block from the Nanaimo Museum. Although
closed for remediation in March of 2010, its site interpreters will return to share the
fascinating stories of the early settlers’ lives in and around Nanaimo in the mid to late
19th century.

5. For some awe-inspiring beauty, Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of
Vancouver Island is not to be missed. A drive out to the west coast is about 3 ½ hours,
so you may want to spend a little R & R time at the world famous Wickaninnish Inn near
Tofino.

6. Other destinations within easy driving distance of Nanoose Bay include the skiing resort
of Mt. Washington
in the Comox Valley, and the seaside communities of Parksville and
Qualicum with miles and miles of flat, sandy beaches just ready for building sand
castles.

7. And don’t forget the little town of Coombs with the goats on the roof of the local country
market! You have to see it to believe it.

8. If you’re anxious to experience some salt water thrills in the Nanaimo area, there are
pleasure boat charters and kayaking companies based in the harbour marina along
Front Street. Fishing charters may also be arranged from here if you’re itching to catch
that elusive salmon.

9. For an even bigger thrill, head to city of Campbell River, about two hours north of
Nanaimo. Row out to the mouth of the Campbell River to test your luck against the
mighty Tyee salmon (over 30 pounds). No motor boats allowed — just the sound of
nature and the screaming of the fishing lines when one of the great ones snags the bait
and makes a run for it.

10. After a long day of adventure, head back to the sanctuary of Nanoose Bay with a crab
or two from the dock, a piece of freshly caught salmon or some fresh oysters for dinner.

What could be better?

One Comment

  1. Posted September 29, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    excellent points and the details are more precise than somewhere else, thanks.

    - Murk

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