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.

"You don't have to travel more than 10-15 minutes to be on a body of water. You can be out on the ocean fishing in 15-20 minutes or you can be on Long Lake enjoying some trout bass fishing."
Matt Benson
"My favourite thing to do in Nanaimo is traveling to Gabriola Island. I love swimming there!"
Simon Stephenson
"The waters surrounding Nanaimo are home to dozens of pods of transient orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, harbour seals, porpoises, eagles, and more."
Jilann Lechner Campbell
Our beaches provide a perfect escape on a hot summer’s day. Nanaimo’s long oceanfront makes this an ideal place for families, swimmers, and sun worshippers. Beaches at local ocean parks such as Piper’s Lagoon, Departure Bay, Neck Point, and Swy-A-Lana Lagoon, offer a myriad of opportunities for swimming, windsurfing, and snorkeling, complete with incredible sea life just below the surface.

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.

Boating and Fishing
Boating and Fishing
Year after year, boaters return in droves to Nanaimo’s protected, scenic waters. Our city is the access point to central Vancouver Island. Tie up and spend a few days exploring what we have to offer.

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.
Visit AhoyBC's Website
Nanaimo and the surrounding areas are a paddling paradise. Launch a kayak or canoe and explore the harbour or the historical shores of Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park. You can bring your camping gear with you and stay overnight on Saysutshun, using it as a base camp for your kayaking adventures. There are also a number of launch sites north or south of Nanaimo to paddle to a Gulf Island or meander along a quiet coastline.

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.
Snorkeling and Diving
Snorkeling and Diving
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.
Related Itineraries
Related Itineraries
Ocean Air
Adventures in and on top of the ocean along this beautiful West Coast community.

Day Trips - Best of the Island
Two day trips from Nanaimo.

The Real Nanaimo Harbour City
From sweet treats to a day out on the water, this is the authentic Nanaimo experience.

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