Newcastle Island: Feels like being in the wilderness, but next to downtown!

I wrote the following a few years back after my first camping trip to Newcastle Island.  I had been starting at Newcastle Island for many years but this was my first time camping there. The memories are still clear and the observations still hold true:


I just got back after a couple of much needed days of rest which I spent camping on Newcastle Island. Wow!

I’ve been to the island before, quite a few times in fact but I had never camped there before. In fact, due to it’s size I still haven’t even seen the whole thing. You would think that a island in the middle of Nanaimo’s bay would be, well, little. I have, however, seen enough in order to feel blessed to have this surprisingly large island situated in/next to the heart of downtown Nanaimo where we can go for a walk, swim at the endless beaches, explore the tidal pools, picnic, camp, play sports in the giant fields, have something to eat at the concession stand, play horseshoes, lay in the fields at night watching shooting stars, not to mention the rather large and nicely built hall just up from the beach which you can rent for a large social function. A wedding, a dance or some other large party for example.

The beach just up from our camping spot was a rather interesting spot to be in at dusk and at night.  Looking left, you can see the natural scene of mountains and their forests on the mainland and on Gabriola Island, and then to the right you can see the cityscape of Nanaimo at night.

The thing that really impressed me these past few days was how beautiful and quiet it was. Since you can only get there by boat, or if motivated enough swim from downtown, there are no cars on the Island which not only means that you don’t have the noise of cars driving by your campsite throughout the day and night, you also don’t have their stereos or people passing through that show up in them. In fact, except for the couple of campers in nearby campsites, which aren’t as nearby as in most campgrounds, you hardly see any other people at all. Most people are down at the beaches or in the playground which we could see across field, but they were far enough away so that we couldn’t hear anything from them.

There was the occasional float plane overhead as they go from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo, which is an interesting point to explore in itself as there is the possibility of waking up in your tent, taking a shower in the facilities, hopping the shuttle back to downtown, taking a float plane to downtown Vancouver probably all in less than an hour. You could conceivably wake up in a tent in a gorgeous seemingly secluded park and then have breakfast an hour or so later in a four or even five star restaurant if you wanted to. Then, spend the day in Vancouver and come back sometime later in the day to enjoy the nature again and return to your tent. That would be quite the experience!


Ryan Coffey

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