NANAIMO: RICH IN HIS­TORY & TRA­DI­TIONS

Rich in His­tory and Tra­di­tions

Suncruiser West Coast - - Contents - WORDS AND PHOTOS BY DAVID MAILLOUX

ON THE EAST COAST OF VAN­COU­VER IS­LAND YOU’LL FIND AN OA­SIS FOR PLEA­SURE boat­ing, a pro­tected har­bour, and a ma­rina known for ser­vice, con­ve­niently lo­cated ad­ja­cent to city ameni­ties and abun­dant cen­tral is­land ac­tiv­i­ties. Boaters re­turn, as they have for so many gen­er­a­tions.

Nanaimo has char­ac­ter. Built on the backs of the coal min­ing in­dus­try in the mid 1800’s and later giv­ing way to a vi­brant forestry in­dus­try, Nanaimo has de­vel­oped into a trans­porta­tion gate­way for Cen­tral Van­cou­ver Is­land. Her har­bour boasts a va­ri­ety of trans­porta­tion op­tions on the wa­ter and in the air, for re­cre­ation and for the ship­ment of cargo con­nect­ing to global des­ti­na­tions. Some call the “Har­bour City” a work­ing har­bour, easy to ap­pre­ci­ate from the se­cu­rity of a shore-side dock or from a favoured sanc­tu­ary “on the hook” be­tween fa­mous New­cas­tle Is­land and Pro­tec­tion Is­land – named be­cause of its of­fer­ing as a boat­ing refuge.

Once you’ve made your reser­va­tion and ar­rived, there are no short­age of ac­tiv­i­ties to fill your days and com­pli­ment your agenda of stress free is­land en­deav­ours. The Boat Basin is ad­ja­cent to down­town Nanaimo, which is full of things to see and do in­clud­ing din­ing, shop­ping, en­ter­tain­ment or nightlife. Here are a few sug­ges­tions. Walk­ing Tours – Shake out your sea-legs whether you’re vis­it­ing for the af­ter­noon or stay­ing for a few days, the down­town has nu­mer­ous parks, walk­ways and shop­ping dis­tricts that are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by foot or by bi­cy­cle.

Check out the funky shops on the China Steps, or en­joy a de­li­cious meal in one of the fine restau­rants on Com­mer­cial Street, voted the “Great­est Street in Canada” by the Cana­dian In­sti­tute of Plan­ners. If you’re crav­ing time to stretch your legs and com­mune with na­ture, en­joy a leisurely stroll along the wa­ter­front and pick up a spe­cial sou­venir. Or spend an af­ter­noon strolling through the Old City Quar­ter, just a quick 10 minute walk over the Bas­tion Street Bridge.

Lo­cal ex­plor­ers find that down­town Nanaimo en­joys easy ac­cess to the Art Gallery, the Nanaimo District Mu­seum - which features First Na­tions cul­ture or Ceme­tery Tours, the Nanaimo Bar Trail and the is­land’s largest shop­ping dis­tricts. Buskers and street mu­si­cians en­ter­tain in all cen­tral ar­eas. En­er­getic guests can eas­ily walk the 5 kms of pic­turesque Har­bourview walk­way that leads to the Bas­tion, Maf­feo Sutton Park where fer­ries or kayaks take vis­i­tors to New­cas­tle Is­land Pro­vin­cial Park, Pro­tec­tion Is­land and the Dinghy Dock Pub, or Gabri­ola Is­land and the Pet­ro­glyphs. Bikes and scoot­ers are avail­able.

For those that want to ex­plore fur­ther afield, the most spec­tac­u­lar of all would be to take a float­plane tour and truly soak in the ma­jes­tic scenery from a higher point of view!

Boaters quickly learn that Nanaimo and re­gion of­fer in­fi­nite possibilities as a cen­tral is­land base camp. Within 20-30 min­utes by rental car to the south, Wild­play El­e­ments Park’s Monkido course takes par­tic­i­pants into the tree tops and chal­lenges ones men­tal and phys­i­cal strength via zip-lines, King swings, and walk­ing on wires.

Trav­ellers will want to step into the Mor­den Col­liery, an his­toric stop, that will take guests back a cen­tury when this area was a thriv­ing coal-pro­duc­ing mine. Lady­smith is a quaint and friendly strolling town on the high­way just to the south and the Cedar/yel­low Point area has a va­ri­ety of artists work­ing from their home-based stu­dios, which are open for tours. You can find all the stops listed in the Cedar Yel­low­point Ar­ti­san Trail.

Have you ever wanted to go spelunk­ing? Sit­u­ated about 45 min­utes north of Nanaimo, Horne Lake Caves of­fers fam­ily friendly or ex­treme rap­pelling guided tours into crys­tal filled cav­erns on an hourly ba­sis in the sum­mer. Coombs mar­ket, where goats graze on the roof, is an ab­so­lute favourite stop for ar­ti­san shops, ice cream and whole­some west coast food. Near Coombs, North Is­land Wildlife Re­cov­ery Cen­tre of­fers a nat­u­ral out­door set­ting where you can visit ea­gles, owls, fal­cons, hawks and black bear in var­i­ous stages of re­cov­ery.

Cathe­dral Grove show­cases 800-yearold gi­ant Dou­glas Fir trees and an awe-in­spir­ing walk through the old growth forests. The food­ies in the group will want to join a brew­ery or wine tast­ing tour and sam­ple ap­pies at the lo­cal pubs and vine­yards. There are end­less ad­ven­tures and dis­cov­er­ies that boaters en­joy when you par­tic­i­pate in a tra­di­tion.

Build­ing on a BC Boat­ing Tra­di­tion….. Nanaimo, The Har­bour City. Ma­rina Info, Events & Reser­va­tions – ma­rina.npa.ca

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