Calling all outdoor adventure enthusiasts! Vancouver Island is bursting at the seams with all sorts of enchanting outdoorsy fun, and university reading week is the perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and see what beauty the island has to offer!
How to Get to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
BC Ferries run every hour between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Foot passenger tickets cost $18 each way and can be bought online from BC Ferries in advance or at the ferry terminal. I highly suggest catching an evening ferry so you can watch the evening sunlight dance across the water.
Exploring the Beaches of Nanaimo
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 with hardly anyone else around 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.
We had a late-night ferry booked back to Vancouver from Nanaimo, so we stopped at Piper’s Lagoon on our way to the ferry terminal to capture the beauty of a Vancouver Island sunset. The colours over the water were beautiful.
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!
Best Hiking in Nanaimo
Ammonite Falls is an absolutely incredible place to go for a hike. 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.
Heart Lake fit the bill exactly for a hike with a beautiful view at the end. We did about 10km with all the various trails we ended up on and it took us 3 hours to complete. It had a stunning view along the route, plus a lovely lake at the end.
Wildplay Element Parks
Sarah and I adventured our way through an exciting rope/wooden planked/zipwire/tree course 45 feet off the ground 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 in Nanaimo
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.