Nanaimo – hopping stone to nearby attractions


Our second multi-day stay on our BC Coastal Circle Tour was in Nanaimo, with our good friends Aaron, Amy, and their son.

We arrived at dinner time, so we headed out to the Old City Quarter for a highly rated Italian restaurant, only to find it closed. Thankfully, there was a Japanese restaurant nearby run by legit Japanese chefs and staff, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. They did a great job with their sushi, sashimi, and ramen, which is a hard combination to pull off.

Other than the restaurant and a tattoo parlor, the whole Quarter seems closed on Mondays.

We also checked out the Nanaimo Harbour and Maffeo Sutton Park, with its popular Swy-A-Lana Lagoon Fishing Pier. The park had a big playground with some exciting structures, and of course the colorful “Nanaimo Sign”.

It also has a cool lagoon that traps some standing water.

After our immense success at crabbing in Sidney, we were eager to try our luck in Nanaimo. The pier was very popular, with crab traps every few meters. We found a spot near the end of the pier between some families, but we didn’t even have a bite. We checked around and almost no one was getting any action. We concluded that it wasn’t our day and called it quits.

There were some ocean front parks near Nanaimo that we wanted to check out, but we were too busy going out to Parksville, Coombs, and Gabriola Island, so we didn’t get to spend much time in Nanaimo itself.

Nanaimo seemed to be more of a transit hub than a vacation destination, with many ferry services to the Mainland and Gulf Islands, and many big box stores for stocking up. The overall look of the city was somewhat tired and dated. The city’s current project is “ReImagine Nanaimo”, which I hope involves helping the homeless. I wasn’t too keen to try paddling the Nanaimo Harbour either. With frequent boat traffic and high concentration of boats in general, it didn’t seem appealing.

(As it turned out, the decision to skip the ocean front parks was a big mistake. We came back and visited Nanaimo in 2023 and had a whole new impression.)

We stayed in a small but nice and clean Airbnb apartment with a marina view, which was a great little basecamp for us to explore the much more tourist-friendly communities nearby.

This is a part of our 2022 BC Coastal Circle Tour. Read on!


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