Ask anyone in Nanaimo who’s ever gone camping off-Island and they will tell you it’s more than just a couple of bucks, especially if it involves towing a trailer.
Fortunately for Nanaimoites there is Living Forest Oceanside Campground and RV Park, a 21-hectare campsite with spectacular ocean views located within city limits.
“We’re in the city, but not in the city,” Living Forest park manager Rob Littlejohn said. “It’s still forested, so you feel like you’re out the city, but really, you’re five minutes from downtown.”
Living Forest Oceanside Campground and R.V. Park has been in operation since 1994 and features more than 300 campsites, including 250 full-service RV sites.
The campground was picked Best Local Campground in the News Bulletin’s annual Best of the City survey – an award it has held for over five years.
“When we opened up it was a quarter of the size and it didn’t have any of the facilities,” Littlejohn said. “We’ve grown a lot over the years … My grandpa initially had the property in the ’70s.”
There is no shortage of features at Living Forest, including onsite kayaking and canoeing, a large laundromat, showers, basketball and hockey courts and wireless Internet access. The campground also has a large games room that includes a pool table, shuffleboard, card tables, kitchen, fireplace and leather couches.
“I think we got the most services and I would think we got the best location,” Littlejohn said. “We get tons of local people come out. Lots of people from the Island and lots of people from Nanaimo.”
Living Forest is constantly looking for ways to improve the campsite and the experience for its customers.
“Unlike most places we improve every off-season,” Littlejohn said. “We’re are actually just putting in a couple of new bathrooms.”
This past off-season, Living Forest spent plenty of time and money improving the individual campsites and landscaping around the campground.
“We do our best re-gravel and re-rock,” he said. “There are a lot of places that are owned by people who are just sitting on [the property] until they retire and then they’re going to sell it or for one reason or another they’re not continuing to maintain it, they’re just collecting the income and riding it out whereas we’re actively always trying to make it better for our customers.”
Camper and Gabriola Island resident Lynn Smith said she’s enjoyed her stay at the campground.
“We like it,” Smith said. “It’s nice. It’s clean. We really like it.”
Smith, who’s a first-time camper at Living Forest, acknowledged the landscaping work at the campsite.
“The landscaping is beautiful and the views are great,” she said.
For more information, to to make a reservation, please visit www.livingforest.com.