University reading week is an ideal time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and see what beauty Vancouver Island has to offer.
How to Get There
We caught an evening ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, which was the perfect time to go as the sun lowered across the horizon as we made our crossing. BC Ferries run every hour and cost $18 per foot passenger each way.
Where to Watch Sunset
We got off the ferry and headed straight down to Lantzville Beach to catch the end of the sunset over the water. A small little beach, there was no-one else there, and the peace and quiet of the island town was refreshingly different to the hustle and bustle of mainland.
If you’re lucky to catch a really good island sunset, Neck Point is the place to be. Somehow, we picked the best one yet with the most unreal sunset I think I’ve ever seen. The entire sky was completely lit up in vibrant shades of purples, reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and blues. I was absolutely speechless, as we stood exposed on the rocks at the tip of the beach and watched the colours dance across the sky.
Sarah and I rushed in the car to get down to the beach to catch the early winter sunset. I’m so ready for sunsets to not be at 5pm, so I can enjoy my day and have darkness pushed a few hours a back. In the meantime, I’ll keep bundled up and enjoy the truly blue evenings at Blueback.
We had a late-night ferry booked back to Vancouver from Nanaimo, so we stopped at Piper’s Lagoon to capture the beauty of a Vancouver Island sunset. The colours over the water were beautiful.
What to Do
Ammonite Falls is an absolutely incredible place. It had rained the night before, so Sarah and I were covered head to toe in water and mud after scrambling and sliding down a muddy hill using a dirty frozen rope for support. The whole hike took about two hours, and regardless of the conditions, was a beautiful morning.
We drove out to Parksville to have a little walk along Rathtrevor Beach there. When we arrived at the provincial park nestled away along the coast, we were greeted with some of the strangest clouds I’ve ever seen; they looked like a big wall encroaching in over the horizon!
Heart Lake fit the bill exactly for a short hike with a beautiful view at the end. We did about 10km with all the various trails we ended up on (including Holland Creek Trail) and it took us 3 hours to complete. It had a stunning view along the route, plus a lovely lake at the end.
Sarah and I adventured our way through an exciting rope/wooden planked/zipwire/tree course thing 45 feet off the ground as part of the Classic Monkido course at Wildplay Element Parks in Nanaimo. You’re attached at all times to two carabiner clips and you’re either climbing across wooden planks or shimmying along a high-wire or flying through the trees on a self-supported zipline – and it’s all thrilling.
What to Eat
If you’re looking for an authentic and delicious pizza experience in the Nanaimo area, look no further than the eclectic Coombs Country Market. Goats roam free on grass-covered roofs and there’s courtyard full of stone statues and abandoned taxis. Hidden around the back in an airy white house is the incredible Cuckoo Pizza featuring freshly made thin-crust pizzas.
*Including photos by Sarah