Newcastle Island is part of the picturesque Nanaimo Harbour. You can view it from the edge of downtown Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The Island has no cars and is accessible only by boat which makes it an ideal “away from the crowds” destination to enjoy the ocean views.
The main activity is to walk around the Island which takes 2 to 3 hours at a leisurely pace. There is also a camp store and concession with limited items for sale.
It is a First Nations park with artifacts and totem poles and is managed by them as well.
Newcastle Island Pavilion
There is a beautiful old pavilion built in the 1930s close to the ferry dock. The historic pavilion can be rented for weddings and other special events.
The day we were on the Island there was a wedding going full swing in the afternoon – at a guess I would say it could accommodate 150 guests. The bridal party photo shoot was down near the beach and they were have the time of their lives.
Even if you didn’t get invited to a wedding you can enjoy dancing on the sprung dance floor. Check with them for the dance schedule.
Ferry Service to Newcastle Island
There is regular ferry service from Maffeo Sutton Park, near the entrance to downtown Nanaimo. The trip just takes a few minutes in a small passenger ferry – called pickle boats, no doubt due to their green paint job. Some of the windows are open which allowed me to take some great photos of a passing sail boat and the harbour. The price is nominal and you can even take your dog for free. It is however an on-leash park.
Newcastle Island Swimming
The tide-swept beaches are is striking especially the section between Newcastle Island and Protection Island which is just a rocks throw away to the south. It has a very gentle slope with a sandy beach ideal for young children to enjoy and swim. If the walk is too long, consider renting a bike on the Island.
Newcastle Island Camping
There are designated campsites on different parts of the Island with lots of open spaces to wander in or play games. There are 5 group campsites and 18 individual sites along with burn pits, tent pads and picnic tables. You can even buy fire wood if you need it.
Biking and Hiking
There are a number of different biking and hiking trails from gentle to more challenging. The Island is fairly flat so there are no mountains to navigate.
Booting and Moorage
There is some moorage on the wharf and ample moorage in the harbour. We saw a few dozen power boats and sailboats flying both Canadian and American Flags. Moorage fees apply after 6pm.
Even if you don’t own a yacht you can rent a kayak and explore the shores.
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