My Day Trip to Nanaimo, BC

The journey of a passionate traveler never stops. As a solo traveler, I always like to explore new places. I am always looking for new places to visit. I visited Victoria about a few days ago, but that is only is a small part of Vancouver Island. I want to explore the entire 12079 square miles island. Victoria was my first exploration of Vancouver Island. I immediately planned to make a day trip to Nanaimo after my Victoria day trip. From Metro Vancouver, it is easily possible to visit anywhere on Vancouver Island. If you have your car, then it will be much easier for you. But I don’t have a car at the moment. So, I made my plan according to that, and I decided to visit those places which will be easily accessible through public transit. Then I made my ferry reservations and a clear route map for my day trip. I was all ready for an exciting ocean journey once again.

I started my journey on August 6, 2021. But my trip wasn’t going through according to my plan at the beginning. I woke up late in the morning. I was about to catch my ferry to Nanaimo at 10 am from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. But I woke up at 8.30 am in the morning and started to rush. I left home at nine o clock and took an Uber. It cost me around $50 for the ride, which is way more than my roundtrip ferry tickets. I had no option. I was hoping that I will be able to catch the ferry somehow. But I missed the ferry. I thought I have to purchase a new ticket for the next ferry ride, but I got rid of that. I didn’t need to buy a new ticket because of my online reservation. If you have an online reservation and miss your trip somehow, you will be able to catch the next ride without any cost. That’s the advantage of online booking. I had to wait for an hour to get to the next ferry. At that time, I hung around in Horseshoe Bay Park, located just beside the ferry terminal. I caught some photographs and checked in the terminal after that. Then I stepped onto the ferry. The name of the ferry was “The Queen of Oak Bay,” and I don’t know the history behind it as well. The ferry departed From the terminal at 11:15 am, and my day trip to Nanaimo was started there.

The Queen of Oak Bay started to cross the Horseshoe Bay of West Vancouver. I straightaway went to the open deck to catch some pictures, but the outside was too windy. It was a gloomy day, and the weather was a little bit cooler. The ocean breeze was blowing at a rapid pace, and the ship was moving fast. So, the atmosphere outside became extremely windy. So, I went back from there and found a quiet place beside a huge window inside the lobby area. Then I started to read some articles on my tablet. The ferry was about to arrive at the Departure Bay Terminal at Nanaimo. At the very end of my journey, I looked through the window and saw some fantastic coastal views. I went to the open deck once again and took out my camera. The weather was very calm at that time, and the ferry was moving slowly towards the terminal. Then I stepped out from the ferry. It was an hour and forty minutes journey. I was surprised when I arrived at the terminal. The Departure bay Terminal of Nanaimo impressed me a lot. I felt that I am inside an airport. Comparing to the terminals of the BC ferry service, this terminal should be way ahead of others. You will see a lot of restaurants and cafes out there. There are some souvenir shops, an open garden, and a children’s playground as well. I discovered all of those while walking towards the arrival zone. I was in a rush, and I had to catch the bus to reach my destination. My first destination was Piper lagoon park. 

Pipers Lagoon Park is one of the beautiful, most exotic seaside parks in Nanaimo. The lagoon itself is the size of three football fields. It fills to the brim at high tide and empties almost completely when the tide goes out, leaving a nutritious muck that attracts all kinds of birdlife. When I first entered this park area, I was amazed.  At first, I sat on a park bench on the walkway and had rest for a while. Underneath the walkway, there is a long rocky beach. I saw many people came here to hang around on this beach. I started to walk on the beach and began to take photographs. On the west end of this beach, I saw some rocky cliffs and some hidden beaches located in the gaps of those cliffs. I explored all of those and climbed into one of the cliffs. From the top of the cliff, the entire park looked amazing. But the lagoon was so empty, and It looked like a sandy field. There was no tide. The park might look more beautiful if the lagoon was full of water. It was a very gloomy day in Nanaimo. The atmosphere on the beach area was a bit windy, but not too much. After stepped down from the cliff, I started to walk towards the bus stop. The neighborhood located before the park was too beautiful. The people living there might be very lucky what I believe. I took a bus for my next destination then. It was Bowen Park.

No, this park is not located in Bowen Island. Bowen Island is a part of Metro Vancouver, but this park is a large country club located in the island city of Nanaimo. I initially became disappointed when I reach there. It didn’t look like a provincial park or natural park. I found this park as a human-made recreational center. After crossing the entrance,  I saw some tennis courts, a children’s playground, an open picnic field, and there might be a golf course inside. After passing six to seven hundred meters, I saw a trail going through a jungle. I crossed some wooden bridges to reach the waterfall inside this park. This is the main attraction of this park which I believe. But the water was flowing through the fall very slowly. Still, It looked so beautiful. The fall was a bit dried up. Water is flowing through the gaps between the stones located in the fall. So, I stepped into the fall because it was dry and took some photos. It was a very long fall, and the water became stored up into a pond named duck pond. This pond was located at the very end of this fall. I saw no ducks in the duck pond, but I saw some people catching crayfish from the ponds. There might be the existence of some other fishes inside this pond; who knows. After exploring the falls, I came out from this park and went to the downtown area of this city through the next bus.

Before exploring downtown, I stepped down into a shopping mall. I just forgot the name of the mall. It looks like a regular town mall, but I saw a casino inside it. I had my lunch in a fast-food restaurant inside the mall. After that, I went away from there to explore more. I took the harbor front walkaway. It was a very gloomy day, as I told it before. So, I was enjoying it a lot. I enjoyed some real views of this city. Nanaimo is known to be a harbor city here on Vancouver Island. When I was walking on the harbor walkaway, I felt this complement made upon this city. In the British era, this city used to be the major port city on Vancouver Island. The walkaway used to be the terminal for the ships, which I got to know through my short research. The walkaway is very long. After walking for a few moments, I switched to a downtown road and explored the downtown area. The area was very calm and quiet. In the downtown, I found an open space memorial. I also found out the courthouse of Nanaimo, located just beside the Canada place building. The courthouse looks like a palace. It might be a palace before. There was nothing significant in the downtown besides those. There are some banks, office buildings, shops, and some breweries, which you will see in the downtown area. Then I went back to the harbor front walkaway again. I was walking from east to west. I was walking towards further west, and I found out the fishermen’s wharf. The fishing boats were trying to make their final hour sales. I continued my walk and kept exploring. Then I arrived at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon Park. It is just like a harborfront park, and there is nothing special. At there, I saw a long pier, which is actually a fishing dock for the spectators. I saw many people were busy fishing with their hooks and bates. After taking some pictures, I crossed this area. At last, I reached the Maffeo Sutton Park, located at the very far west-end of this long walkaway.

Maffeo Sutton Park was a very beautiful place for me. Maffeo Sutton Park offers the best view of Nanaimo’s marinas and waterfront. There are always lots to enjoy, including a kids’ playground, a bandstand, food vendors, and a spacious, beautifully landscaped park. It is a large multi-use recreational area in this city. Here, you can enjoy scenic views, get in some cardio on the Harbourfront Walkway, watch the little ones play, and enjoy many a nice picnic on grassy hills under the relaxing shade of trees. The park represents a sea of calm in an otherwise bustling Oceanside city. My time in that park was the last moment of that day trip, and I enjoyed each and every moment. If you want to make a day trip like me, I suggest you visit this portion of this city later or last because this area is not far away from the airport or ferry terminal. So, you can explore and relax a bit before leaving this harbor city.

After relaxing a bit, I walked towards the ferry terminal to catch my scheduled ferry. I saw a bus stop just in front of the main entrance of the park. I waited there a bit and stepped up into the next bus. The bus dropped me in front of the ferry terminal. Then I caught my scheduled ferry and reached Vancouver. That’s how my day trip to Nanaimo ended. It was an amazing journey.

What else you can explore in an entire day

I was in Nanaimo for approximately seven hours. But if you want to stay longer than that, you can explore more. You can explore Neck Point Park, which is a beautiful oceanside park. You can also explore Newcastle Island. You have to take a ferry from Maffeo Sutton Park, and it will take 30 minutes to reach there. I haven’t explored those places yet, but they are on my bucket list for sure. I will explore those areas on my next visit.


  • Check transit schedule times online through Google or any other helpful app if you are about to take transit. Take a day pass for BC transit for $5. So, you will be able to move around as much as you can for the entire day.
  • Try to make an advance online booking for ferry rides. You may not get any tickets at the terminal kiosk, and it could affect your schedule.
  • There is no Uber, and taxis are limited. So, keep those in your mind when you are about to make your trip plan. It’s better to have a car for your day trip.
  • Always try to catch the bus no. 20 or bus no. 30 of BC Transit. These two buses cross almost all the crucial points in the city. If your map is not working, then catch any of these buses.

So, travel more, be happy & stay safe. Always remember that your mobility is your freedom.

Picture Source – Self-Captured Pictures.

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