Nanaimo’s Best Beaches

Thanks to its stunning location nestled between the ocean and the mountains, Nanaimo has an abundance of beautiful beaches to explore and like the rest of Nanaimo, they are diverse, interesting and offer something for everyone.

From tidal beaches that line the ocean’s edge in north Nanaimo, revealing expansive dunes in low tide, to sandy beaches on a fresh-water lake that fill up fast in summer months, Nanaimo has a beach to suit every mood and activity.

While some Nanaimo beaches are popular swimming and watersports spots, others are hidden gems that only reveal themselves around the turn of a trail.

Whether you are looking for a place to swim, launch your kayak, walk, to nature watch or to build sandcastles, you’ll find a beach that hits the spot in Nanaimo.

Below we’ve listed some of our favourite Nanaimo beaches where you can experience your preferred seaside activities.

Best Nanaimo Beaches for Swimming

If you enjoy a dip in the ocean then head to Blueback Beach in North Nanaimo. This tidal beach has sweeping sand at low tide, although water shoes are recommended to navigate the rocky section found closest to shore. Blueback is accessed via a steep set of stairs, which are popular for workouts. Just leave yourself enough energy to get back up.

If you prefer a freshwater swim head to Westwood Lake. Powered vessels are not allowed at this lake making it a safe choice for swimmers. A roped-off beach swimming area and lifeguards are in place during the summer months, although experienced swimmers can explore the entire lake.

Best Nanaimo Beach for Walking

If you are looking for a beachside stroll head to Departure Bay which has a raised pedestrian walkway above the sand and shingle half-moon beach. With coffee shops, food trucks and a children’s play area, it’s easy to see why this beach is so popular with families. 

Also visit: Swy-a-Lana Lagoon. This small beach at Maffeo Sutton Park is an ideal place to refresh after walking the waterfront seawall.

Best Nanaimo Beach for Watersports

The beach at Long Lake, in the heart of Nanaimo, is the perfect starting point for watersports enthusiasts. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards share the waters with powered boats and jet skis that can make the most of the long stretch of secluded water here. The protected swimming spot at the small sandy beach is very popular in the summer.

Also visit: Brannen Lake. This lake, which is popular for power boat activities, has a small beach for day use.

Best Nanaimo Beach for Pets

If you’re looking for a place to let Fido enjoy the pleasures of an ocean dip, head to Invermere Beach. This North Nanaimo oceanfront location is dedicated as an off-leash beach year-round. Check a local tide guide before arrival to ensure there will be lots of beach space for playing fetch.

Best Nanaimo Beach for Stunning Views

While every beach spot in Nanaimo has an amazing setting, the views of the snow-capped mainland mountains from Pipers Lagoon Park are truly stunning. Sit on a beach log and contemplate the vista, or walk along the raised walkway between the ocean and the tidal lagoon to a secluded cove. Winding trails lead to views over Shack Island, which is accessible by foot at low tide.

Best Nanaimo Beach for Wildlife Spotting

The rocky beaches and coves at Neck Point Park are great vantage points for ocean wildlife watching. Stroll the trails and stairways that run throughout the park and lead to numerous beaches from where you can scan the ocean for passing Seal, Sea Lions and even Orca.

The Best Nanaimo Beach for Sandcastles

Twin Beaches on Gabriola Island, are as the name suggests, a pair of sandy beaches on either side of a land spit. Part of the Gabriola Sands Provincial Park, these beaches are popular with locals and visitors for their soft, clean sand and views out onto the Straight of Georgia. The perfect spot for a picnic and sandcastle building.

The Best Nanaimo Beach for Kite Flying

Sebastian Beach and the other sandstone beaches of lower Lantzville are perfectly positioned to get maximum benefit from the winds that whip across the Salish Sea. This is not only ideal for flying a kite from land, but windsurfers and kite surfers can frequently be seen making the most of the gusts and waves. 

Best Nanaimo Beach for Exploring

The shoreline of Saysutshun has numerous sandstone and sand beaches which can be explored by visitors to the island. Kanaka Bay and Brownie Bay, both on the far side of the island offer sandy spots from which to swim. Explore tidal rock pools and look for the bright and interesting sea creatures that live in them. On the beaches facing the Newcastle Channel you may be lucky enough to spot a resident Albino Racoon hunting among the rocks for its dinner.



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