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Visiting Vancouver Island

Attractions and activities in Nanaimo and on Vancouver Island

Welcome to Nanaimo signNanaimo, the “Gateway of Vancouver Island”, is centrally located on Vancouver Island and is the second largest City on the Island. Never too far from; shimmering waters, magnificent forests and long stretches of sandy beaches.

Do not think because it is an Island it is small. It stretches 500 kilometres (320 miles) southeast to northwest with an area of 3,175,000 hectares (9,493,171 acres) and 3,460.0896 kilometres (2,150 miles) of coastline.

Vancouver Island is home to more than 700,000 people. Nanaimo has approximately 80,000 of those people not including surrounding area. In the Central Island of Duncan, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Ladysmith and Port Alberni there are about 250,000 people.

Palm trees are found in downtown NanaimoCome to visit and stay awhile in a Lakeview Home, and the Harbour City.

Five native villages had gathered together and called this ”Sneymo” and in the native tongue meant “great and almighty people”. Coal was discovered in abundance in 1981 and attracted miners to Nanaimo.

The City of Nanaimo was incorporated in 1874, making it the third oldest city in British Columbia.

Our local history displayed in local museums and architecture dating back to Nanaimo’s coal boom. Coal shafts located on Newcastle Island (in Nanaimo’s inner harbour) tell a tale of their own.

Swy-a-lana Lagoon in downtown NanaimoNanaimo is one of the best places to enjoy westcoast living at its finest. Nanaimo’s waterfront easily accessed along the Harbour Walkway where you can shop, dine and enjoy fantastic views of marine life.

Outdoors, life on Vancouver Island has long summers and mild winters favoring golf, sailing, hiking, diving and wildlife watching. Underwater scenery is just as brilliant with spectacular sites including the HMSC Sasketchewan and much more. Nanaimo has been acknowledged as the best scuba diving destination in North America.

Arts and Culture galore in Nanaimo

Performing arts are incredible, home to the Port Theatre an 800 seat Theatre. Nanaimo’s history is preserved in the Old City Quarter fantastic architecture hosting local shops, dining and amenities.

The new 800 seat Port Theatre is home to a large array of cultural events to suit all interests. Vancouver Island Symphony performs locally at the Port Theatre. Theatre One brings local theatre to life.

Children’s theatrical performances are offered regularly and enjoyed by all. Nanaimo’s Theatre Group’s following their desires for passion with theatre.

How to get to Nanaimo

B.C. Ferries offer two routes to NanaimoMany modes of transportation are available ferries, both vehicle and passenger travel are available. Contact BC Ferries to obtain up-to date ferry information from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Sailing time for this vessel is 1 hour 35 minutes. Or Tsawwassen to Duke Point Duke Point is located on the south side of Nanaimo.

Nanaimo airport offers many services within the aviation industry.

You can take full advantage of the scenery and allow the driving to someone else if you go by train. The train is available from Victoria to Nanaimo.

For information on renting one of Lakeview Homes' properties in paradise, click here to access Paradise Properties By Owner. You may also access our homes through Vacation Spaces or click here to contact us directly.

Exploring the Surrounding Area

FireworksA 20 minute drive south of Nanaimo you will find a 100 year old town called Ladysmith. Located on the 49th parallel. Named after General Smith’s young wife “Lady Smith”.

It is a quaint waterfront community with very interesting history. Ladysmith is well known for some festive activities including the “Festival of Lights”, “Ladysmith Days”. While visiting Ladysmith check out Transfer Beach or explore Holland Creek Trail.

Vineyards in the Cowichan Valley
Travel further South to the Cowichan Valley. “Cowichan” is Salish for “land warmed by the sun”.

Outdoor activities include year round golf, sailing, hiking and exploring. Excellent local farmers markets offer a taste of home-grown produce and local artisans display their crafts.

Local vinters harvest local grapes to produce award-winning wines. Wine tours in the area are highly recommended with some on the most wonderful wineries sampling their products. Check out local wineries at:

Lush countryside surrounds scenic coastal villages and charming inland communities. Culture and entertainment flourishs at all levels, often hosted in the 731 seat Cowichan Theatre. The Cowichan Native Village displays the First Nations heritage. Duncan boasts this heritage with a vast display of totem poles lining the streets.

Chemanius, a warm town with over 30 world famous murals depicting its history on local buildings for all to see. Chemanius is a charming seaside village which brims with artisan spirit. Experience the Chemainus Theatre if you haven't visited before, you're in for a delightful and inviting afternoon or evening of shopping, dining, music, conversation…and theatre

Rathtrevor BeachTravelling north, 20 minutes from Nanaimo you will come to Parksville. Home of the beautiful Rathtrevor Beach.

Rathtrevor received its name from a gold prospector and pioneer, William Rath, who settled in the area with his wife and family in 1886. William died in 1903, leaving his wife with the farm and five children. The warm ocean water and almost a kilometre of sandy flats at low tide make beachcoming a rewarding outing.

Rathtrevor Beach is ideal for beachcombingWhen the tide rolls in over the sun-baked sand, the warmed water is unbeatable for swimming.

Great bird watching here especially in early spring when large numbers of seabirds congregate for the annual herring spawn. The beach is one of the best spots on the island for viewing migrating Brant Geese during March and April.

Parksville is home to many local artisans and craftsman.

Horne Lake CaveHorne Lake Caves There are two caves open to the public for self-exploring.

Horne Lake Main and Lower Caves are accessible year round and offer visitors a chance to explore some of the more rugged caves on their own.

To explore these caves, it will involve some moderate climbing and narrow passages. Helmets are recommended and you must have at least two sources of light. Horne Lake Cave

Englishman River FallsLocated 8 miles from Parksville is picturesque Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. Located on the Englishman River which features a spectacular canyon between two beautiful waterfalls. Walk along the suspension bridge for a spectacular close encounter with the falls. The park is close to 100 hectares and offers many walking trails to explore lush old-growth forests of cedar, arbutus, fir, maple and hemlock Native legend claims that First Nation people during the last century found the skeleton of a white man along the river near the waterfall – hence “Englishman” River falls. A gorgeous deep crystal clear pool with a small rocky beach downstream from the base of the lower falls, a great freshwater swimming hole and sunbathing area.

Coombs Village is about 5 miles from Parksville. The market is well known for the “goats on the roof” as a family of goats nibble the grass from the thatched roof. Below the newly renovated market offers fresh local produce and one of the best places for ice cream. The market also has many interesting gift and craft stores to shop in. Minutes past the village, Butterfly World and the Emerald Forest Bird Garden are popular attractions. You can stroll amongst hundreds of exotic butterflies flying free in an indoor tropical rainforest. Fabulous flowering plants and foliage home to many fascinating birds and other creatures. A great family outing. Visit Tiger Lily Farm Children will delight at the antics of the baby animals, and adults will love the looks on their faces. Your family will enjoy mingling with the animals and learning all about them.

Little Qualicum FallsLittle Qualicum Falls displays a fantastic waterfall down a rocky gorge.

Explore the many wooded trails to explore both the upper and lower falls or take a dip in the rivers clear swimming pools.



Perhaps spending an afternoon lazing on the beach at Cameron Lake is appealing. If so, bring a picnic .Cameron Lake is surrounded by mountains and forests in the Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park on Highway 4, 7 miles (12 km) west of Coombs. The lake is stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout. Great fishing through the summer, if fly fishing is your sport bring your rod and test your skills on the lake's brown trout. Strong winds blow here in the afternoon, so if windsurfing is your sport, bring your sail.

Cathedral GroveMacMillan Provincial Park home to many giant Douglas firs some over 800 years old Cathedral Grove. Explore the trails through the canopy to experience some breath taking scenery. In 1997, the park experienced a bad windstorm which damaged some of the park, restoration of the trails have taken place and display some of the havoc that nature has experienced.

Although, with the fallen wood, it allows close up encounters with the tree rings themselves.

Count the age of one of these magnificent beauties. One of the largest trees in the park is over 76 m high and 9 m in circumference.

Port Alberni FishingFishing in Port AlberniPort Alberni, the Salmon Capital of the World, known for some of the best salmon fishing. Stamp River is spawning grounds for many salmon. In the fall, the fish can be seen up close and person.

Local Charters are offered with great seasoned experienced fisherman. You only require your license and away you go. Some very large chinook have been caught in the inlet, some over 60 pounds.

Explore the Broken Island Group by boarding the MV Lady Rose or MV Frances Barkley and explore the Inlet

Long Beach, TofinoContinue heading west to explore Tofino and Ucluelet. Tofino was named in 1792 after the Spanish Hydrographer Vicente Tofino de San Miguel (1732 - 1795) who was Rear Admiral of the Spanish Naval Academy in Cadiz.

In Tofino, explore Long Beach the Island’s most famous beach, enjoy in all seasons, in the summer walk for miles, in the winter the storm watching is indescribable. In Tofino there are numerous points of interest including, Pacific Rim Park, Chesterman Beach, Wick Beach, and many others where you can enjoy a serene walk or just sit and watch the waves.

RiversWhilst in Tofino, check out whale watching or even explore a hike to the hotsprings, take a trip to view some bears.

Wild life watching is highly recommended, perhaps on your drive to Tofino, you may be blessed with the sight of a bear or cougar on the side of the highway.

Ucluelet is a short drive from Tofino located in the Pacific Rim National Park.

Trees in TofinoAn ancient settlement on the northern edge of Barkley Sound, Ucluelet takes its name from the Nuu-chah-nulth phrase, Yu-clutl-ahts, “the people with a good landing place for canoes”.

Experience something different, board the MV Frances Barkley and sail down the Alberni Inlet to Ucluelet.

Ucuelet has some awesome diving with incredible breath taking underwater sites of natures underwater beauty and some fascinating ship wrecks, creating reefs and home to marine life.

Surf on the west side of Vancouver IslandWhile on the west side, enjoy many activities including hiking, kayaking, fishing, whale watching, diving, storm watching and much more.

Gabriola Island a quick ferry ride from Nanaimo City Centre.

Three beautiful parks, unique features including petroglyphs, millstone quarry and many local artisans.

Unusual local attractions include Chateau Wolf, Nanaimo’s own vineyard. The grapes “are grown with a passion for purity and quality” Wine sampling is offered on weekends at the vineyard. Winner of the 1999 Silver Metal of the Intervin International Wine Competition in New York

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