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Nanaimo Harbour

Updated on November 29, 2015

Nanaimo Harbour - It's Amazing!

I've enjoyed living in Nanaimo, the harbour city, for nearly 40 years. Nanaimo is located in the center of the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and once you've been here, you may never leave.

Visitors are amazed by our people, places, adventures, and entertainment. They find space to breathe, to relax, and to reconnect.

Slip through our protected waters by kayak or try your hand at a ropes course through the trees. Take in the natural surroundings of the area with a stroll along the waterfront walkway or through one of our picturesque parks.

Although shopping in Nanaimo is always in season, I want to introduce you to Nanaimo's spectacular harbour, where you don't have to spend a penny to take in the incredible beauty.

As you can see, the harbour is spectacularly lovely.

Nanaimo harbor, Dingy Dock floating pub, Protection Island
Nanaimo harbor, Dingy Dock floating pub, Protection Island | Source

This photograph was taken from Protection Island, just east of the Dingy Dock, one of the harbour's big attactions.

Our dragonboat teams sometimes paddle to "the Dock" for a pleasant meal and a drink. Seeing 22 people arrive in a small boat gets quite a reaction from the tourists who arrived on the Protection Island Ferry!

The photo below was taken as our dragon boat approached the Dingy Dock on September 30, 2008.

Nanaimo harbor, Dingy Dock floating pub, Protection Island
Nanaimo harbor, Dingy Dock floating pub, Protection Island | Source
Source

This photograph provides a view of Nanaimo from 20 km to the South, near the Duke Point Ferry Terminal.

A Harbour Collage

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nanaimo Public WharvesTroller's Fish & ChipsPenny's Pelapa - An outstanding purveyor of Mexican food.Protection Island Ferry shuttles passengers from downtown Nanaimo to Protection IslandFirst Nations War Canoes Gather in Departure Bay (Summer, 2008)This Cameron Island high-rise complex dominates this harbour view.Dragon Boat in Newcastle ChannelBritish Columbia ferry "Queen of Coquitlam" drarfs the outrigger (OC6) crew rounding Newcastle Island on their way into the inner harbour."Pickle Boat," named from its distinctive colour, ferries passengers to outlying islands, and offers harbour tours.Looking south from Maffeo-Sutton Park, Nanaimo, BC
Nanaimo Public Wharves
Nanaimo Public Wharves
Troller's Fish & Chips
Troller's Fish & Chips
Penny's Pelapa - An outstanding purveyor of Mexican food.
Penny's Pelapa - An outstanding purveyor of Mexican food.
Protection Island Ferry shuttles passengers from downtown Nanaimo to Protection Island
Protection Island Ferry shuttles passengers from downtown Nanaimo to Protection Island
First Nations War Canoes Gather in Departure Bay (Summer, 2008)
First Nations War Canoes Gather in Departure Bay (Summer, 2008)
This Cameron Island high-rise complex dominates this harbour view.
This Cameron Island high-rise complex dominates this harbour view.
Dragon Boat in Newcastle Channel
Dragon Boat in Newcastle Channel
British Columbia ferry "Queen of Coquitlam" drarfs the outrigger (OC6) crew rounding Newcastle Island on their way into the inner harbour.
British Columbia ferry "Queen of Coquitlam" drarfs the outrigger (OC6) crew rounding Newcastle Island on their way into the inner harbour.
"Pickle Boat," named from its distinctive colour, ferries passengers to outlying islands, and offers harbour tours.
"Pickle Boat," named from its distinctive colour, ferries passengers to outlying islands, and offers harbour tours.
Looking south from Maffeo-Sutton Park, Nanaimo, BC
Looking south from Maffeo-Sutton Park, Nanaimo, BC

U Bette!

12 meter dragon boat U Bette
12 meter dragon boat U Bette | Source

The Dragonboat U Bette basks in the sun while her crew enjoys a picnic in Midden Bay (Newcastle Island).

The Eye Of The Dragon - Dragon Boats Rule Nanaimo Harbour

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Bathtub Racing and the Marine Festival

"Nanaimo harbor was the scene of a bathtub race extravaganza at the first race in 1967."

"As the City of Nanaimo's 'Centennial Event' that year, close to 200 tubbers (in every type of craft imaginable) entered the fun competition and amazingly, 47 completed the 36 mile course to Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove across the straits of Georgia."

"Now the 'Great RACE' finishes at Departure Bay in Nanaimo covering a very grueling course that leaves Nanaimo harbor circles Entrance Island and then up to and around Winchelsea Island and then back to Departure Bay in Nanaimo."

"In the early days it was indeed a challenge to just get past the starting line in the choppy confusion caused by an extra 785 small and large observation and escort boat in Nanaimo harbor."

"From the confusion of a first time bathtub race 39 years ago, the Nanaimo to Nanaimo 'Great' INTERNATIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BATHTUB RACE & 4 day Nanaimo Marine Festival has evolved. Where once a select band of tubers were the highlight they now share the spotlight with many other land and water events which are interesting and often spectacular to watch."

I found the contrast between the Nanaimo Seawalk's masts and the construction crane interesting. I hope you do, too. The building is finished now, but I haven't gotten around to photographing it yet.

The old Malaspina Hotel, long a downtown eyesore, has now been transformed into a high end waterfront condominium.(I don't think the City has any business building high rises on the waterfront, but it's too late to do anything about it now - the money seems to be more important than the needless destruction of an incredibly beautiful harbour.)

The Nanaimo Seawalk stretches across the Port of Nanaimo, from the Nanaimo Yacht Club to Port Place Shopping Center. The scenic oceanside walk provides access for cyclists as well as those on skates. It extends well past the the wonderful Maffeo-Sutton Park, a Nanaimo Harour jewel.

Nanaimo's Annual Silly Boat Regatta

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The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.The trailing boat seems to be having engine trouble...This appears to be a four-engined craft...
The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.
The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.
The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.
The Occidental Hotel's "Oxy Misfits" Used their umbrella as a sail.
The trailing boat seems to be having engine trouble...
The trailing boat seems to be having engine trouble...
This appears to be a four-engined craft...
This appears to be a four-engined craft...

Tribal Journeys Canoe Voyage

Vancouver Island, 2008

The largest Tribal Journeys Canoe Voyage in British Columbia history was set to mark the beginning of the 2008 Indigenous Games. As many as 80 to 100 traditional ocean-going canoes, from a variety of canoe cultures and nations, made a two-week journey to Cowichan, on Vancouver Island, travelling from as far away as Tlingket on the Alaskan border and Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and as far south as Oregon.

As the boats arrived at each scheduled stop, they were received with a traditional Coast Salish Welcome. The photos below were taken in Nanaimo harbour, in Departure Bay, on July 26, 2008.

Departure Bay - Nanaimo, BC

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Nanaimo on YouTube - Seeing is believing!

Gorging Dragons Womens
Gorging Dragons Womens

Outrigger Racing

Outrigger racing is a sport in which an outrigger canoe is propelled by paddlers - six, in this case. Outrigger canoeing has grown from its roots in Polynesia to become a very popular paddling sport, with numerous sporting and social clubs located around the world.

The designation for the boats shown below is "OC6," for "Six person Outrigger Canoe" Vancouver Island OC6 paddlers are also often involved with dragon boat racing, and turn to outriggers to keep in shape during the off season.

Battle of the Bay
Battle of the Bay

OC6 Outrigger team warming up in the staging area at Maffeo-Sutton Park during the 2011 Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gorging Dragons Women's Team warms up on the dock. Protection Island can be seen in the background. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)A crew is seen crossing the finish line at the end of a 1000 meter heat. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)Two OC6 crews battle for position during the 2011 NCKC "Crazy 8s" regatta. This photo was taken just south of Protection Island.I love the contrast between the mammoth BC Ferries ship, the outboard safety boat, and the OC6 in the foreground, just rounding the northern end of Newcastle Island. (2011 NCKC Crazy 8s, Nanaimo, BC.)OC6's lining up for the start of their race.
Gorging Dragons Women's Team warms up on the dock. Protection Island can be seen in the background. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)
Gorging Dragons Women's Team warms up on the dock. Protection Island can be seen in the background. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)
A crew is seen crossing the finish line at the end of a 1000 meter heat. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)
A crew is seen crossing the finish line at the end of a 1000 meter heat. (Battle of the Bay, Nanaimo, BC, Oct 22, 2011)
Two OC6 crews battle for position during the 2011 NCKC "Crazy 8s" regatta. This photo was taken just south of Protection Island.
Two OC6 crews battle for position during the 2011 NCKC "Crazy 8s" regatta. This photo was taken just south of Protection Island.
I love the contrast between the mammoth BC Ferries ship, the outboard safety boat, and the OC6 in the foreground, just rounding the northern end of Newcastle Island. (2011 NCKC Crazy 8s, Nanaimo, BC.)
I love the contrast between the mammoth BC Ferries ship, the outboard safety boat, and the OC6 in the foreground, just rounding the northern end of Newcastle Island. (2011 NCKC Crazy 8s, Nanaimo, BC.)
OC6's lining up for the start of their race.
OC6's lining up for the start of their race.

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      travelvibes 

      8 years ago

      Just found this lens - beautiful photos. Gotta love this part of the world.

    • Dragon 40 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken McVay 

      9 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      [in reply to ggglynch] I used to make the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino every year about this time, just to see the fantastic display along the route as the trees respond to cooler weather and their leaves show spectacular colour. Gotta love Vancopuver Island!

    • ggglynch profile image

      ggglynch 

      9 years ago

      Excellent photographs Ken! The eastern side of the island is as spectacular as the west!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Great place. I have a friend from VA and she tells me what an amazing place it is.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Welcome to Anything and Everything Travel Group. You did a great job on this lens. You get 5 *'s from me.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      10 years ago

      Gorgeous lens! Welcome to All Things Travel. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • profile image

      GeraldMason 

      10 years ago

      Wow! Thanks, Ken! I've never been able to make the Silly Boat Regatta, but your photographs have convinced me not to miss it next year!

    • profile image

      scambaiter 

      10 years ago

      FanTAStic photographs! Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

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