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what-to-do-in-nanaimo-departure-bayIf you are a frequent visitor to Vancouver Island who chooses to save the extra $15 and not make a ferry reservation, you probably find yourself (and maybe your family as well) with several hours to kill waiting for a ferry back to the mainland, why spend it in a parking lot? Most people are quite content to walk around the terminal, listed to the gulls, people watch and take in the terminal sights. However, after a few trips to and from Nanaimo, you will want to stretch your legs and see more while you wait for your ferry. Did you know that just a short walk away from the terminal is one of the best beaches to visit in the Nanaimo area? Departure Bay Beach is definitely a don’t-miss part when you are in the Harbour City of Nanaimo. Any fan of all forms of seaside recreation will find something to see or do here including:
  • Walking/biking/rollerblading: There’s a seawall running the length of the beach, great for a little bit of exercise as you wait for your ship to come in (literally!).
  • Swimming and sunning: If you aren’t trying to catch a ferry or have many hours to wait, you can enjoy the swimming area of the beach and take in the sun on the sand.
  • Scenic Viewing: While you are sunning, take a look around at the magnificent vistas around you! For starters, there are the miles of ocean to see across, along with the spectacular skyscape. Looking around, you’ll be able to see a few different islands along with the residences which have been built around them. Many of the manmade structures that can be seen from the beach are scenery themselves; beautiful, large Nanaimo houses which will have you thinking about real estate purchases!
  • Wildlife viewing: And, of course, the nature nut inside you will have lots to delight in when it comes to Departure Bay. There are shells everywhere, many containing live sea creatures like clams, muscles, and oysters (look for more exotic varieties as well; sand dollars, moon snails, and so on). Birds flock overhead, including the occasional bald eagle. You might catch a glimpse of a harbour seal or a porpoise plying the waters; some lucky residents recently got to watch a 30 strong pod of White Sided Pacific dolphins playing in the water of the Bay (the first time these creatures have been spotted there) for over an hour!
Why hurry the departure when something so incredible is so close by? If you get distracted, fall in love with Departure Bay beach  and miss your ferry, you can always spend the night (or the whole weekend!) at the Painted Turtle Guesthouse – where clean, friendly, affordable accommodation is always available for islanders and tourists alike.