Newcastle Island is a hidden gem and, despite it’s proximity to downtown Nanaimo, many people in Oceanside have never been to it. On Saturday, September 13, 2014 the Northwest Bay PROBUS group set out to explore the island on its third hike of the season. Our numbers were smaller than previously (just six plus two dogs); but a wonderful time was had by all.
To get to the island you need to take the small ferry boat (seniors are just $8 return) from Maffeo Sutton Park across Nanaimo Harbour. They have a wonderful public dock landing area that takes you up to the start of the hike at the pavillion. There are many routes one can take depending on time, fitness and weather. We had a brilliant sunny day so we took the Bate Point Trail to a lookout over Nanaimo Harbour. A wonderful hike up the Channel Trail revealed the old sandstone quarry and lovely views of the boats in Newcastle Island Channel. We stopped for a snack break at Midden Bay overlooking the Horseshoe Bay ferry docks. We continued on to Giovando Lookout. The views of Nanaimo and the Five Fingers Islands with sailboats tacking on the sparkling waters made it hard to believe how close we still were to the city. We continued over several trails to Kanaka Bay at low tide. What a terrific lunch spot and for those with company looking for a shorter hike a destination from the boat landing. Another 2 km and we were back to the dock for our short ferry ride back to Nanaimo
All told the hike was about 12 km with wonderful scenery, beautiful forested and well maintained trails. We went over on the 10:00am ferry and returned on the 2:45.
Text & photos by Robert Grose