Recreational Activities & Nightlife In Northwest Canada
Earlier in May I had the opportunity to explore Nanaimo and the coast of Vancouver Island with a kayaking and paddle boarding excursion to get a different perspective on Nanaimo and its surrounding area.
Often times when people think of Vancouver Island they think of Victoria with its vibrant city life and Tofino with the surfing bros. Often times Nanaimo is lost in this discussion but it really shouldn’t be because there are lots of cool things to do and see for the wanderer that likes to go off the beaten path.
Here’s a rundown of what I discovered: cool pubs, lakes for all kinds of recreation and the Nanaimo lifestyle.
Interesting Pubs in Nanaimo and The Area
Old City Station Pub
Is the game on? Well get going to this place! I watched the Washington Capitals vs the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals here. The service was great, food ( I had wings) was tasty and the waitresses were chatty, they also had the hockey game on the big projector which made for great viewing.
The Crow and Gate
Feel like being transported back to the English Countryside but too broke to get a plane ticket? Head on Over to the Crow and Gate! They have a wide selection of (warm and cold) English Beers. Going inside it feels like you have transported to England, the ceiling is littered with lots, of coasters from all the different English beers and it has a dark atmosphere with lots of wooden benches and laughing locals. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this pub is that it’s surrounded by a giant garden. I’m not exactly Martha Stewart but it’s pretty cool seeing this well landscaped pub on someone’s property, it makes me wonder if drunk people feel they have escaped to Neverland getting out of the pub!
Kayaking, Paddle Boarding & Tubing In Vancouver Island
Some good locations to kayak and paddle board, if the weather is nice enough is along the waterfront of Nanaimo as well as along Living Forest Campground. I kayaked around the bay and snuck through the tidal flats to where they had logs tied up. I was hoping to surprise some sleeping seals but alas they were not there!
Westwood lake is rather small but has some cool things (including cute girls on floaties – https://floatingauthority.com/best-inner-tubes-for-river-floating/ – and blasting music). You can easily kayak or paddle board it’s perimeter within 45 minutes as long as you can dodge the sunken logs underneath the water. It seems to be a hidden hotspot that locals know all to well as a few floating enthusiasts decided to blow up their floaties on the other side of the lake next to the rock face.
Don’t have a kayak? You can rent some kayaks or paddle board from Sea Legs Kayaking Adventures. They have some really nice top of the line sea kayaks you can rent for an hour or two at a pretty reasonable price. I can tell you now the difference between paddling a recreational kayak and a sea kayak is comparing a station wagon with a Porsche.
The Nanaimo Lifestyle
I can attest that I have never lived there but from an outsider’s perspective it really seems to be the best bet in terms of affordable housing that’s within a 2-3 hour distance from Vancouver. Nanaimo is best for people who love nature and want to have a bit of fun at night as well. There are a few nightclubs in Nanaimo including Koncept, Club 241 and The Queens that you can live it up at night with fellow party hardy Islanders.
If you decide to move here you will most likely be staying on the island for the majority of the time. B.C. Ferry prices have skyrocketed in the past 10 years and can be more than $100 each way which can be a bummer if you have connections in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland.
Derek Lance publishes the water sports website floatingauthority.com.