Stretching across kilometres of Pacific Ocean shoreline, Nanaimo is aptly referred to as the Harbour City. Those ocean waters are the source of many activities, including sailing, fishing, and kayaking. Spend the day paddling around Saysutshun, or get out on a charter to become the next great angler. Take your adventure to new depths on a snorkeling or scuba diving expedition.
Freshwater swimming: Westwood Lake and Long Lake, both offering large beaches. Long Lake is also the home of the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club, and a favourite motorboat and water skiing spot. Westwood Lake has a summer lifeguard service, offers wonderful trail hikes and a children’s playground.
For something a little more adventurous, Nanaimo River offers some of the most exhilarating swimming opportunities in the city. The best swimming spots can be found about ten minutes south of town off Nanaimo River Road, and are always worth the trip.
There’s room for every type of vessel here, with moorage available at the Nanaimo Port Authority’s Visiting Vessel Pier, Newcastle Island, The Newcastle Marina, Stones Marina, and the Nanaimo Yacht Club. All Nanaimo moorage facilities are just a dinghy ride (or short walk) away from the heart of downtown.
Put down a crab trap at Maffeo Sutton Park’s fishing pier for Dungeness crab fresh from the Pacific Ocean or head out on a Salmon fishing charter. Fresh water anglers can explore Nanaimo’s many lakes (several of which are stocked regularly with trout) and the Nanaimo River.
For more information on boating to Nanaimo, visit Nanaimo’s community profile on AhoyBC.
Rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks in the Nanaimo Harbour, at Westwood Lake and start exploring!
The Nanaimo Rowing Club, along with the Nanaimo Canoe & Kayak Club, are situated on beautiful Long Lake in central Nanaimo. Are you a rower or paddler from out of town? Stop in and see them or contact the clubs for more information! They are always happy to see a fellow paddler.
Nanaimo is also a gateway to the BC Marine Trails. The BC Marine Trails Network provides a map of kayak launch sites and ocean side camping areas in Nanaimo and the rest of Vancouver Island, as well as downloadable tables of paddling area information, paddling resources, and a directory of local paddling.
Looking for boating information? AHOYBC is full of resources and links for pleasure craft boaters looking to make BC’s coastal waters their destination (including Nanaimo!) Check them out on their website or connect with them via social media on their Facebook page or Twitter.
Discover the bounty of sea life that calls Nanaimo's surrounding waters home. Take a chartered tour with with Sundown Diving and discover the bounty of the Salish Sea. Capable swimmers can don a wetsuit, flippers, and snorkel, hop in the water and investigate rock walls and forests of kelp.
Sea life abounds in the cold, clear ocean that surrounds Nanaimo, making it the ideal destination for scuba diving. Jacques Cousteau considered these waters “the best temperate diving in the world, second to only the Red Sea.”
Nanaimo is also home to 3 fascinating wreck dives. In 1997 The HMCS Saskatchewan, a 366-foot navy destroyer, was sunk off the shores of Nanaimo to create an artificial diving reef. The Saskatchewan was joined on the ocean floor by the HMCS Cape Breton, a retired Canadian Supply Ship, now recognized as the World’s Largest Artificial Upright Reef. In February of 2005, the Nanaimo Dive Association sank a third vessel, the RivTow Lion, a retired deep sea rescue tug. The Rivtow rests at a manageable depth of about 50 feet in Departure Bay, making it a great dive for beginners seeking some experience before plunging down deeper to the Cape Breton or Saskatchewan.
There are several professional dive shops in Nanaimo who will assist with all your dive needs, including certification, hire and charters.
Book Your Stay Now
Experience our lively downtown waterfront! Our picturesque marina sits amongst a variety of shops, eateries and view.
Oceanfront camping on scenic Gabriola Island. Walking distance from the ferries and close to the village center. Kayaking rentals and tours run right out of the park!
Descanso Bay Regional Park is one of those undiscovered gems.
The Waterfront Suites and Marina offers residence-style accommodation for guests visiting Nanaimo for business, university studies or pleasure. Originally designed as bachelor suites, our rooms are very spacious and come equipped with full kitchens and private balconies
Visit Page's Resort & Marina on beautiful Gabriola Island and you will be welcomed to secluded, fully equipped seaside cottages, a pristine campground surrounded by forests and offering ocean views, and a full service marina providing quiet nightly moorage.
Whale Watching in Tofino, BC
We offer a world class whale watching experience with a focus on conservation and sustainability. We guarantee you'll see a whale, or your next trip is free! Join us on a 3-4 hour trip to see killer whales, humpback whales, sea lions, seals, porpoises, eagles, and more!
Rated as one of the best cold water destinations in the world, Vancouver Island diving is without question unlike any other on the planet.Based in Nanaimo, we are only minutes from the Ferry Landing and Local Airport.
We are a premier charter service offering a variety of fishing charters and three distinct scenic and wildlife tours. With over a decade of marine experience in Nanaimo, a fully equipped and licensed vessel and convenient moorage next to the Departure Bay ferry terminal
We are a family operated marine-guided adventure charter on Vancouver Island, based out of Nanaimo, BC. Coastal Blue takes you on fishing and exploring adventures in and around Nanaimo and the surrounding Gulf Islands an Sailish Sea.
IT ALL STARTS HERE Your fun paddling adventure begins at the doorstep to the stunning natural beauty of the Gulf Islands. Silva Bay Kayak Adventures offers kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding tours - from a relaxing two hours - to multi-day expeditions.
Only 20 minutes from the city of Nanaimo, Gabriola Island (population ~4,200) casts spells across layers of time. Its sandstone geology studs the coast with dramatic rock formations.
Join us in our 27th year as we paddle the pristine waters of Vancouver Island. We offer single day trips to multi day expeditions locally here in Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands.
The Nanaimo Yacht Club was established in 1931 and has grown to be a key contributor to the Nanaimo yachting community.
We welcome about 1,500 guest boats a year from yacht clubs from our entire region. If you're a member of a yacht club, bring your boat and visit!
Sailing + cruising + rides +tours + customized adventures + special events.