Saysutshun stroll (photo: Ben Giesbrecht)

Saysutshun stroll (photo: Ben Giesbrecht)

Hop to it: Nanaimo offers easy access to local islands

Unique island experiences at your doorstep

This summer offers the perfect opportunity to see your city through fresh eyes.

After all, if it’s been a while since you’ve visited beautiful Gabriola and Saysutshun islands, there’s no better time for a little island hopping!

These stunningly scenic islands offer unique natural beauty and cultural experiences and are just a short ferry or water taxi ride away.

Gabriola: Island of arts and adventure

Gabriola Island has a well-deserved reputation as “the isle of the arts,” and what is more inspiring to the artistic soul than this place of natural beauty and unique arts-and-crafts culture. Home to over 70 artist studios, plus many live performances, art shows, hands-on workshops and community events, there’s something for all tastes.

If adventure is more your speed, you can hike, bike, scuba dive, fish or kayak – bring your own gear or take advantage of on-island rentals.

Beaches are another great place to soak in island vibes. Don’t miss the Malaspina Galleries, a stunning, curved, sandstone cliff – a refreshing place to swim on a hot day, and a romantic sunset destination at any time.

When it’s time to re-fuel from your adventures, Gabriola offers a selection of cafés and restaurants showcasing delectable local fare. Grab a sandwich, tuck into a hearty meal, or browse the farmer’s market with loads of local, tasty delights.

Ferry: Take BC Ferries from downtown Nanaimo.

Personal watercraft: Full-service marinas are located in Silva Bay.

Saysutshun Island: Explore to content your heart

Saysutshun Island, and accessible by foot ferry, the Island offers a spectacular view of the Harbour City and the coastline, but so much more in the way of culture and outdoor adventure.

Occupying a special place in the hearts of the of the Snuneymuxw or mustimuxw people, the Island’s name means “training for running,” referring to the special places where runners, canoe paddlers or warriors bathed to cleanse themselves before race or battle. The Island is also associated with physical and spiritual healing for the local Indigenous people. A visit will give this unique Island a special place in your heart too.

Explore the Island’s past and present by foot. A Marine Provincial Park since 1961, Saysutshun has been the location of many industries, including coal mines, sandstone quarries, herring fisheries, a fish-salting plant, shipyard and a leisure retreat.

For the outdoor enthusiast, hiking biking and swimming are popular pastimes, or go tide-pooling to observe the astounding variety of wildlife, big and small.

Head to the 1930s dance pavilion, one of the few remaining of its kind, that was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of a luxury resort. Today, enjoy a snack at the snack bar and concession after a day of exploring.

Stay: Camping is available.

Ferry: From May through September, a foot passenger ferry leaves every 30 minutes from downtown Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park, and takes about 10 minutes.

Personal watercraft: can visit year round.

READ MORE: Local supporting local: Explore and experience your Nanaimo backyard

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Saysutshun ferry (photo: Alexander Stickel)

Saysutshun ferry (photo: Alexander Stickel)