Nanaimo’s not-so-secret getaway deal: Ferry to Newcastle Island, cultural tour and salmon barbecue for just $75.

Explore the island’s rich history and deep connection with the Snuneymuxw people

Spectacular scenery, a delicious salmon barbecue and cultural walking tour come together on Nanaimo’s Newcastle Island to create one of the best getaway deals in town.

Even better, Saysutshun – or Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park – is just 15 minutes away via passenger ferry, and the ferry, tour and dinner together costs just $75 per person. The next barbecue is July 15 – get tickets from the Snuneymuxw band office at 668 Centre St., Nanaimo and discover why this magical place was – and is – so special.

Cultural Explorations: Part of the traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw people, before European contact they had many winter villages along Nanaimo Harbour, each including several longhouses.

Saysutshun has always been special to the Snuneymuxw people as a place of healing. After a death, loved ones would visit the island to release their tears and heal body, heart and mind.

The island was also used for gathering traditional medicine and as a training area for competitive canoe pullers to keep themselves in top physical shape.

Today, visitors to this provincial marine park can reserve a guided walking tour with an experienced Snuneymuxw guide who will talk about the island’s First Nations history and the sites that remain. Reserve your guided cultural tour by emailing ncimanager@p-d-g.ca.

Traditional Salmon Barbecue: For a traditional dining experience, enjoy a salmon barbecue, where a Snuneymuxw chef will describe the traditional sockeye salmon cooking process and teachings handed down through generations. Pre-book your barbecue at least two weeks in advance for a minimum of 20 people, who will enjoy delicious salmon, baked potato, salad, fresh fruit, traditional baked bread and drinks. Reserve by emailing ncimanager@p-d-g.ca.

Need more reasons to visit? Other popular Newcastle Island activities include hiking and biking, a swim at the sandy Kanaka Bay or Midden Bay, and oceanside camping at the provincial campsite, with potable water and showers, plus firewood available for purchase. In addition to the traditional salmon barbecue, food is also available at the Saysutshun Bistro, located in the restored 1930s teahouse at the Newcastle Island Pavilion. The full-service facility also welcomes weddings and special events, including meals for up to 250 people from catering partner the Grand Hotel.

What you need to know:

Visit Newcastle Island in Nanaimo Harbour by foot passenger ferry or private boat. Through Sept. 15, the ferry leaves every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from the Maffeo Sutton dock for the 15-minute trip. (Reduced schedules are available year-round.)

The ferry fare is $5 return, with pets $1, bikes $2 and other equipment/gear $1.

If you’re hopping the passenger ferry to the island, park at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park, 150 Comox Rd., where the first three hours are free.

Learn more at newcastleisland.ca or call 250-802-0255.

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