The City of Nanaimo boasts one of the prettiest waterfronts in Canada, and is conveniently located to serve as a home base for exploring Vancouver Island. Its name derives from a Coast Salish word, Sney- ny-mo, the "meeting place" - a perfect description of the rapidly- growing harbour community. The Scotch Bakery on Commercial Street is the home of the Nanaimo Bar, a regional specialty that is actually a form of chocolate fridgecake (a visit would be not complete without one). Each spring the Festival of Banners has area artists creating a gallery of original street banners that are displayed on lamp standards throughout Nanaimo. Don't miss the annual yacht race around the island. Perhaps you'd rather bungy jump from the only legal bridge jump in North America. A former coal-mining town, Nanaimo has evolved into something very different, with a clean, accessible waterfront, cultural festivals in the summer, a university campus with a marvelous view, and superb dining.
Just south of Nanaimo on the Trans-Canada highway you will find "The little town that did." Through the dreams, imagination and energy of the community, the town of Chemainus recreated itself - capturing and expressing its history, its people and its future. Artists from around the globe were invited to paint huge heritage murals on the sides of buildings, transforming a small coastal mill town into the world's largest outdoor art gallery.
North along the coastal highway, Qualicum Beach gently spreads in front of one of the most pleasant small towns on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Steeped in quaint British heritage and famous for its local arts, crafts and beautiful English gardens, modern day Qualicum Beach offers visitors the same gentle countryside and golden, seemingly endless, sandy beaches. Like its close neighbour Parksville, Qualicum Beach is an enchanting seaside village that will capture your heart.enchanting seaside village that will capture your heart.