[Guest article by Jonathan Dickenson – Jon is a hunting, camping and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys sharing his stories through guest blogs.]
Two liquid brown eyes breach the surface, half hidden by the mist of early morning. An inquisitive whiskered nose follows, all attention focused on you sipping coffee outside your RV. You study each other. The seal finds you neither edible or of much interest and slips beneath the water once again. It is a promising beginning to a camping vacation at the Living Forest RV Park in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Getting to Nanaimo
Nanaimo is on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island which means a ride on BC Ferries is in your future. Departure Bay is the closest terminal, less than 2 miles north of downtown. Duke Point is roughly 7 miles south. Several ferries a day provide round-trip service from Vancouver on the mainland. These large vessels regularly transport 18-wheeler trucks with trailers and can handle even the largest of RVs. Reservations are advised and are available online through BC Ferries. (If you need an Internet connection while you’re on the road, consult InternetProviders.com.) Duke Point is closer to the Living Forest RV Park, about 5 miles away.
Living Forest RV Park
Living Forest RV Park covers 53 acres. It is surrounded by the Strait of Georgia, mixed forest land and the beginnings of the Nanaimo River. Choose from more than 300 sites, some with full hook-ups and others with partial services. Living Forest RV Park welcomes all RV types from compact tent campers to the largest Class A rigs.
Stroll the sandy beach, go for a swim or take to the trails along the Nanaimo River. The full-service park offers its seasonal Living Forest Café, a year-round sundry store, game room and several outdoor recreation areas. A shopping center is less than a half-mile away and Nanaimo’s downtown core is a 2-mile drive. Reservations are wise as the park fills up quickly. The seals tend to hang around year-round.
Protection Island and the Dingy Dock Pub
Protection Island was once privately owned by Frank Ney, a flamboyant Nanaimo mayor that went about his official duties dressed in a pirate outfit. The island, accessed by a 10-minute ferry ride, is the home of the Dingy Dock Pub. This floating eatery looks every bit the pirate lair. The skull and crossbones logo graces almost everything and the Pub even has a talking parrot with a vocabulary that is not exactly “G” rated. Walk the ramp from the pub to the island and explore the beaches and the waterside trails. At a little more than one square mile, Protection Island is home to more golf carts than cars and a population of roughly 350. Frank Ney’s island and the quirky pub are two of Nanaimo’s most-visited attractions. The ferry leaves from Front Street and Promenade Drive on the Nanaimo waterfront. Dock space is available at the Dingy Dock Pub if you choose to sail over on your own.
Around Nanaimo Town
Spend some time exploring the city’s beginnings at the Nanaimo Museum. Take a dip in the indoor pool at the Nanaimo Aquatic Center. Find two vintage bowling alleys, Splitsville and Brechin lanes, welcoming lovers of the sport. But there is one sweet treat that simply must not be overlooked. The Nanaimo Bar is a delectable combination of chocolate and butter layered on a graham cracker crust. It is so beloved that the city came up with its Nanaimo Bar Trail. Pick up a map at the visitor’s center or at participating shops and sample Nanaimo Bar fudge, cheesecake, ice cream and even alcoholic versions of this signature dessert. Think pub crawl, Nanaimo style.
Creative Commons image by D-Stanley