One of Nanaimo’s greatest features is the vast amount of park space and trails surrounding the city. Residents and visitors alike take advantage of the over 100km of trails and the over 1000 hectares of park space scattered throughout Nanaimo. Trails and parks are situated on shorelines, in the middle of downtown, throughout the various neighbourhoods of Nanaimo and on the outskirts of town. Many of the parks and trails are well maintained and equipped with essential amenities, such as washrooms, picnic areas and benches. There are a wide range of parks and trail styles. For a leisurely stroll, walk the Harbourfront Walkway and take in the bustling harbour while you make your way from downtown to Departure Bay. For a more vigorous hike, walk Mount Benson and take in a panoramic view of Nanaimo as you make your way up the mountain. Westwood Lake offers a 6km trail looping the lake and is a popular spot for both runners and walkers. A few other popular parks and trails to visit include Neck Point, Piper’s Lagoon, Bowen Park, Newcastle Island and Ammonite Falls.
With the ocean surrounding Nanaimo, there is certainly no shortage of beach space for you to enjoy. Spend your summer days lazing on the beach with a good book, kayak in the many protected bays all year long or take the kids and let them build sandcastles and search the shores for sea life. In Nanaimo alone, there are several great beaches to choose from. The well-known Departure Bay beach is a great place to spend your day. Pack a picnic, watch the ferries come and go, search for seashells or kayak or canoe in the calm bay. Piper’s lagoon is one of Nanaimo’s most scenic and beautiful spots to swim, windsurf, picnic and walk the Oceanside trails. Close to Piper’s is Neck Point which also boasts beautiful views of the ocean, mountains and nearby Shack Island. Walk the Oceanside trail and if you’re really lucky, you may even see Orcas swim by.
For freshwater lovers, Nanaimo also has a number of stunning lakes and rivers. Nearby Long Lake and Westwood Lake both provide scenic settings with a crisp, clean swimming spot and calm waters perfect for kayaking or canoeing. Westwood Lake is also well known for its great trails for hiking or jogging, with a 6km trail around the lake. For the more adventurous, Nanaimo River is a must. It’s beauty and sparkling uncontaminated waters are something you have to see for yourself to believe. Whatever your water preferences are, Nanaimo boasts a number of pristine lakes, rivers and beaches. See “Surrounding Nanaimo” for more information on beaches near Nanaimo.
Scuba Dive in Nanaimo
Considered one of North America’s top scuba destinations, Nanaimo is proud to boast world-class scuba diving. Yes, the waters are cold, but for the adventurous and avid scuba divers, Nanaimo has an abundance of spectacular dives. The sea life is incredible with large octopuses, wolf eels, sea lions and harbour seals playing beside you. Dive at one of Nanaimo’s three first-rate artificial reefs or take a shore line dive at Neck Point. For the inexperienced diver, there are numerous businesses offering certification, training and scuba lessons. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, the scuba diving here is world renowned.
Nanaimo offers its residents and tourists a wealth of entertainment possibilities. The outdooropportunities are endless; kayak, snorkel with the seals at Snake Island, windsurf at Piper’s Lagoon, swim in the calm bays, hike the numerous trails, golf at an Ocean view golf course or picnic at one of the many Provincial Parks. Shopping and dining in Nanaimo are some of the island’s best. Stroll the beautiful Nanaimo Harbour front and browse through the unique boutiques while sipping on a specialty coffee, or stop by Vancouver Island’s biggest shopping centre to pick up the latest trends. Adventure seekers can get their thrill at the famous Bungee Zone over Nanaimo River (know called Wild Play), which has recently been recreated into a full outdoor thrill park, complete with bungee jumping, zip lines and a tree top course. Downtown Nanaimo is bustling by night time: stop by the Queen’s hotel to hear live music every night, dance the night away at one of the cities many nightclubs or visit one of the numerous martini bars for a more intimate evening. For history buffs and cultural seekers, Nanaimo is rich with cultural entertainment. The Port Theatre in Nanaimo offers an extensive range of cultural performances. Check out one of the numerous Native Art Galleries to see the beautiful and historic design creations from Nanaimo’s Native culture, or stop by the Bastion at noon to hear the canon being fired. Whatever you entertainment needs, Nanaimo has it all.
Golf enthusiasts revel in the fact that you can golf all year long in Nanaimo. Nanaimo’s moderate climate makes it possible to golf almost any day of the year. Nanaimo is within a one-hour drive to 19 golf courses, and Vancouver Island is home to over 40 golf courses, 6 of which are rated 4+ stars by Golf Digest. Take in the beautiful views of Departure Bay while golfing at Nanaimo’s own Nanaimo Golf Club, where the fairways and greens are well maintained. Stop by the clubhouse after for a cold drink and a tasty meal. Only minutes from Nanaimo you can golf Oceanside at the beautiful Fairwinds Golf Course, which features an award winning Les Furber design. The range of golf options in and near Nanaimo is plentiful and the best part is; you can golf all year long!