Nanaimo, British Columbia has some of Vancouver Island’s best beaches. This coastal city is blessed to be located on the Pacific Ocean while also boasting an abundance of warm lakes. This combination makes Nanaimo a great place for anyone who wants to spend time at the beach. Below is a list of the best beaches in Nanaimo.
Departure Bay Beach
The sandy beach at Departure Bay is the largest beach in Nanaimo at 800 metres (0.5 mile)s long. There is a sectioned off area with a dock where you can go swimming at Departure Bay Beach. The playground and a grassy park is a popular spot for young kids to play before a lot of travel time in the car or getting on the ferry.
Neck Point Park
Neck Point Park is a popular destination along the Nanaimo waterfront offering visitors a vast 36 acres to explore. The rocky beach is a wonderful spot for young children to explore. Scuba diving is easily accessible here from a road that allows for scuba divers to drive up. The walking distance around Neck Point Park is 2.9 km (1.8-mile). It’s an easy route that takes about 44 minutes to complete the loop.
Located at Westwood Lake Park, the main beach area is the only one with a summer lifeguard service patrolling the fresh water swimming spot. A washroom and change room are onsite however they’re not wheelchair accessible. There is a small playground located at the second beach near the gravel parking lot. Westwood Lake Park offers wonderful trail hikes, and dogs are allowed so long as they’re leashed.
If you’re heading to Vancouver Island, you may want to visit Tofino. You can read my Tofino Travel Guide HERE.
Piper’s Lagoon Park
Pipers Lagoon Park is the perfect place to enjoy sunrise or sunset. When the wind picks up, head down to the beach with your kite. During low tide, it’s great spot for beachcombing too. The large lagoon, which is actually called Page Lagoon, is the size of three football fields. Stroll one of the many twisting trails leading out to the ocean viewpoints. Be sure to check out the isthmus that juts out to rocky outcrops where you’ll have a great view of Neck Point Park.
Swy-A-Lana Lagoon at Maffeo Sutton Park
Maffeo Sutton is a bustling waterfront park in the city of Nanaimo’s downtown area. There is a long seawall and park system creating recreation areas for visitors to enjoy. Within Maffeo Sutton Park is Sway’ A’ Lana Lagoon, a manmade “lake” that’s connected to the ocean at high tide. There is a small sandy beach and the water is warmer than the ocean making it a perfect spot for swimming in Nanaimo. The large playground has been upgraded and the tree-shaded picnic areas are plentiful in the grassy park.
Saysutshun Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park
Hop a small passenger ferry or your own water vessel from Nanaimo to Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Provincial Park. Only 10-minutes by ferry, Saysutshun is a few hundred metres offshore from Vancouver Island but a world away. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy sandy beaches, fishing, overnight camping, and the natural beauty of the rugged island coastline. The best swimming spot is at Kanaka Bay. Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Provincial Park has a large day-use/picnic area located at the entrance of the park with an adventure playground, picnic tables, information kiosk, swimming beach, pit toilets, and a large grassy area. There’s a well developed 22 km walking trail if you want to go on a long walk around the island. A park interpreter is stationed during the summer months to provide visitor information. Camping reservations are recommended for Saysutshun Newcastle Island Marine and can be make through BC Parks.
Long Lake is an expansive lake in the middle of North Nanaimo. It’s a busy lake with motorized vehicles like motorboats allowed. Some of the homeowners on the lake even have floatplanes. It has warm shallow waters making Long Lake a great place to go swimming. If you’re looking for sandy beaches, you’ll want to make a point of going to Long Lake. There’s a boat ramp, a small fishing dock, and Long Lake is also the home of the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club. The main access is at Loudon Park on the south side of the lake.
Blueback Beach is quiet due to it being one of Nanaimo’s lesser-known beaches. It’s located at the end of Blueback Road and has approximately 200 stairs leading down to the beach. The beach starts out rocky but then turns into a long sandbar making it an ideal place for swimming. Open year-round, Blueback Beach is a an excellent choice if you’re looking for a quiet spot in summer or winter.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is a provincial park in Parksville, about 30 minutes north of Nanaimo. It boasts a 2 km long stretch of sandy beach among a 5m long beach front. The park is home to an old-growth forest of Douglas fir trees and a provincial campground with an abundance of shaded picnic grounds. Campers can enjoy one of 174 vehicle-accessible and 25 walk-in camping spaces.
Located outside of the city of Nanaimo but within the Nanaimo Regional District is the town of Qualicum Beach. About an 40 minute drive north of Nanaimo, the town has over 4 km of white sandy beaches running the length of the municipality. You can swim at Qualicum Beach. The water is calm and warm, making it lovely for young families. When the tide comes in, a shaded promenade will give you and your family a place to enjoy a picnic.
So if you’re wondering, does Nanaimo have beaches?
Yes, Nanaimo is a great spot to explore numerous beautiful beaches on Vancouver Island.
I hope this post has inspired you to explore all the best Nanaimo beaches.
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