Nanaimo Harbour Ferry

Nanaimo Harbour FerryNew to the waterfront this year is the Nanaimo Harbour Ferry providing both scenic harbour tours and Newcastle Island shuttles. You can catch these colourful little 12-seater ferries at the Fisherman's Market Pier (Float F) directly below the Bastion or from near the Frank Ney statue in Maffeo Sutton Park. If you're familiar with the famous Victoria harbour ferries, you'll know what to expect. The large open sides are great for photography and viewing, and the captains provide an amusing and informative commentary.

The Nanaimo harbour cruise goes up Newcastle Island Channel for a look at the shipyards and yacht moorings, then passes close to Newcastle and Protection islands. Watch for seals on or near the log booms off Protection Island. This 45-minute trip costs $17 for adults, $15 for seniors over 60 and students, and $9 for children under 12.

The harbour ferries also do Newcastle Island shuttles at $4/2 adult/child each way. It's a wonderful, easy way to get to the lovely provincial park on Newcastle and the boat captains can usually supply free hiking maps. Upon request, the Nanaimo Harbour Ferry will take you from Newcastle to Protection Island but they cannot pick up from there. To get back to town from Protection you must use the Dinghy Dock Pub shuttle which costs $4 one way (hourly until 10 pm). When the tide is low you can also wade between Newcastle and Protection islands.

Until September 4, the harbour cruises will be departing downtown Nanaimo every hour on the hour from 9 am to 9 pm daily. After Labour Day, the service continues until October 14 from 10 am to 5 pm. The Newcastle Island shuttle operates every 20 minutes during the same hours. Exact times are posted at the departure points previously mentioned. It's a great way to get a seal's-eye view of the harbour or to hop over to Newcastle Island for some excellent hiking (admission to the provincial park is free). Overnight camping is also possible at an official campsite in the park.

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