Tree Fossil: A 72-million-year-old palm tree fossil – the biggest fossil leaf ever found in Canada – was discovered in Nanaimo in August 1996. Salvage palaeontology of the site revealed exquisitely preserved specimens of the Upper Cretaceous Period, including dawn redwood, several fern species and many angiosperms. Unfortunately, most of the remaining fossil-containing rock has been excavated, crushed, and used as road fill for the Duke Point Road extension to the Duke Point Ferry Terminal.
The Nanaimo District Museum at 100 Cameron Road displays interesting exhibits covering the history of Nanaimo and the surrounding region, archeological artifacts, and 10,000-year-old petroglyphs. Among the displays are a replica of a Chinatown street and a replica of a coal mine, complete with visual and audio effects.
Cedar is home to the Harmac Pulp Mill. Tours through the plant are readily available, but should be arranged in advance. Ask for more information at the Visitor Centre.
The Nanaimo Salmon Hatchery is best visited between September and October, but visitors can observe the juvenile salmon in their outdoor channels from March to May. The hatchery is signposted from Rugby Road, north of Nanaimo Airport.
Boating & Cruising: Yellow Point and Nanaimo provide an ideal base for boaters wishing to explore the scenic Southern Gulf Islands and the peaceful waters of Stuart Channel. A number of boat launches are provided, and charters, bare-boat rentals and guided tours are available.
Freshwater Fishing: Quennell Lake off Yellow point Road is known for its good smallmouth bass and trout fishing, as is the nearby Holden Lake. Long Lake and Brannen Lake are situated 3 miles (5 km) north of the Nanaimo city centre. They’re both easy to locate on opposite sides of Hwy 14. There are trout and smallmouth bass at Long Lake, and cutthroat and rainbow trout at Brannen Lake.
Diving: Nanaimo and the Northern Gulf Islands are prime destinations for discerning scuba divers. Explore Nanaimo’s first artificial reef, created by the sinking of the HMCS Saskatchewan, a retired Navy destroyer sunk off Snake Island in June 1997. The HMCS Cape Breton is the largest artificial reef in the world, located off Snake Island (a bird sanctuary), near Nanaimo. Notable coastal dive spots include Dodd Narrows, the Gabriola Passage (soon to be a marine life sanctuary), Four Fathom Reef, Carlos Island, Porlier Pass, Clarke Rock and the popular night diving location, Jesse Island, which boasts at least three separate and distinct dive sites in very sheltered conditions.
Bungy Jumping: For those who prefer falling over walking, Nanaimo claims to be the home of North America’s first and only brid built specifically for bungee jumpers. Thrill seekers can experience the ultimate high at the Wild Play Element Park. You can watch or jump from this 140-foot (42-m) bridge above the Nanaimo River, located south of Nanaimo and signposted along the highway.
Bungy Jumping in Nanaimo
Hiking: Visitors looking for outdoor walks and hikes don’t have to go far. The surrounding area offers an amazing range, quality and quantity of trails. The trail around Westwood Lake west of Nanaimo is the jumping off point for a myriad of trails that wind over the rugged Westwood Ridges and climb to the 3000-foot summit of towering Mount Benson. The trails are a favourite with local mountain bikers and various hiking clubs. The wild and natural trails at Cable Bay and Dodd’s Narrows are popular, as are Yellow Point Park and Hemer Provincial Park.
The 2-km Cable Bay Trail is wide, easy and well-maintained trail. Parking is available at the trailhead located at the end of Barnes Road. The 90-minute hike (round trip) is rewarded with views of sea lions and bald eagles (if you’re lucky), and black bears have also been sighted in the area. The Long Lake Trail is a short loop trail near Roberts Memorial Park. The trail joins the Yellow Point Park trail system and provides an interesting loop through second-growth forest for both hikers and equestrians.
Mountain Biking: Mountain bike enthusiasts accept the challenge of the Ultimate Abyss, perhaps the best-known trail on Vancouver Island because of its notorious technical challenge. The semi-loop trail begins next to the SPCA shelter on Harewood Mines Road, just south of Nanaimo. At the outset, the trail follows a string of power lines. The entrance to the trail begins beside power tower #24-2. Stay on the main trail and ignore all diversions. Much easier riding is found nearby in the Westwood Lake area, reached by following Jinglepot Road and then Westwood Road west of the city centre. More demanding trails lead off from the north end of the lake along Westwood Ridge.
Canoeing & Kayaking: As much as the ocean dominates the landscape near Yellow Point, there are several freshwater lakes where paddlers will find serenity in a rural setting. You can put in at Hemer Provincial Park on Holden Lake or at nearby Quennell Lake. Holden’s shape is rather straightforward, with only one major bay. In comparison, Quennell Lake is nothing but bays, with seven arms and an island in the middle, enjoyed in this serene little haven, which has good beach access.
Golf: Nanaimo and the areas to the north have seen the proliferation of golf courses with a view. Tee off on any of 20 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Nanaimo. Courses range from family mini-golf to demanding 18-hole courses with beautiful views. Located 3 miles (5 km) north of Nanaimo is the Nanaimo Golf Club, a demanding 18-hole course with beautiful views of the water, and two 9-hole courses; Pryde Vista Golf Club and the Eaglequest Golf Centre. Near Yellow Point are Cottonwood Golf Course and Mount Brenton Golf Course. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
The 93-hectare Hemer Provincial Park on Holden Lake offers bass and trout fishing and a short network of forested trails that lead through the woods from the parking lot to the west side of Holden Lake.
Roberts Memorial Provincial Park is a 14-hectare park 17 km located on Yellow Point Road. An atmosphere of transcendent serenity permeates the park. This peace is broken only by the barking of sea lions offshore and the mewling of sea gulls, great blue heron, and the occasional Pacific Loon. A peaceful walk through second-growth forest leads to a sandstone beach, a reward in itself. Picnicking, swimming and fishing are pastimes enjoyed in this serene little haven, which has good beach access.
Petroglyph Provincial Park, at the south end of Nanaimo, where the Nanaimo River empties into Northumberland Channel, presents a look back in time to a prehistoric period perhaps a millennium ago. Mythological creatures – sea wolves in particular – and symbolic designs have skillfully been outlined in the sandstone surface of the rock. Examples of this art form exist elsewhere in British Columbia, but rarely in such enjoyed in this serene little haven, which has good beach access.
Other good Picnic spots include Yellow Point Park and Blue Heron Park, a beach park with picnic tables, good beach access and swimming.
South of Yellow Point on the Island Highway is the spirited, picturesque community of Ladysmith, with streets lined with charming and restored heritage buildings. Further south, explore the mural-filled town of Chemainus, with its charming stores and restaurants and live performances at its popular theatre building.
Nearby Nanaimo serves as a major ferry terminal linking Vancouver Island with the B.C. mainland. BC Ferries operates a scheduled ferry service between Departure Bay in Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay on the north shore of Vancouver, and from Duke Point in Nanaimo to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, south of Vancouver. Regular ferry services are available from downtown Nanaimo to nearby Gabriola Island and Newcastle Island in Nanaimo Harbour.
Nanaimo Airport is located just 15 minutes south of downtown and serves an average of 20 flights daily between Nanaimo and Vancouver, Abbotsford and Langley. An airport shuttle service, taxis, and car rentals are available at the airport. You can also opt to fly into Nanaimo harbour’s seaplane terminal in the heart of downtown. Service is frequent and offers spectacular scenery en route.
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We are located right on the ocean at Inn of the Sea on beautiful Yellow Point, 20 minutes south of Nanaimo and 90 minutes north of Victoria. A privately owned 2 bedroom self-contained townhouse. A quiet, peaceful waterfront getaway with fireplace, canoe, outdoor pool, hot tub and tennis court and free high speed internet.
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