Amazing Nanaimo

Pearlsa, Joe and I recently took a day trip to Nanaimo and took tons of pictures.

This trip was particularly special because this was Joe’s first visit to the Island.


Nanaimo is one of those towns I wish I’d grown up in. I imagine it’s the kind of place where one acquires a memorable childhood.

My first visit to Nanaimo was a nice accident; I’d recently moved to Vancouver and was fascinated by water travel. I wanted to go on a short day trip by ferry; and chose Nanaimo over the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island just because the sailing to Nanaimo was earlier.

An hour and thirty minutes from Horseshoe Bay, Nanaimo is the second largest city on Vancouver Island (Victoria being largest). Its serene natural landscapes of water, mountain and forest, is just so idyllic it just draws you in. The general atmosphere is laidback and people seem relaxed and friendly.

One of most amazing moments I experienced was traveling by train from Victoria to Nanaimo on the Malahat – a once daily train service from Victoria to Courtenay (on the southern tip of Vancouver Island). The views were incredibly awesome, the train goes through colourful forests, tunnels and breathtaking/breath stopping trestle bridges.


On this recent trip, we took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay; the wait to board was about an hour (we didn’t make reservations). We spent the day basically touring our old haunts, we walked the seawall, checked out the piers, explored the fishermen’s wharf and Pioneer Plaza. The quaint Old City Quarter was unfortunately empty; most of the merchants had closed for Easter. We had dinner at the Grapevine Trattoria and went for a long citywide drive; we ended up at Woodgroove Centre (allegedly the biggest shopping mall on the Island). One thing I hadn’t noticed before was the great many shopping strips by the Island Highway, I don’t even think that many people live in Nanaimo to support all those stores.

Old City Quarter

The neighbourhoods are pretty and charming but varied with a unique island feel to it. Newer developments seem to have sprung up, especially ones overlooking the water and mountains – the city seems to be expanding (perhaps people like me are taking the plunge and moving there)

We were all a little reluctant to leave at the end of the day. Nanaimo’s one of those places I’d gladly move to if I had the opportunity or maybe a summer home if I had the means. There’s so much to do and see I’d never be bored. We didn’t have enough time on this trip to explore the smaller Protection Island and Newcastle Island, so there is another reason to go back.

It’s also home to the world famous Nanaimo bar.

And here are more pictures from flickr

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