Top 3 Saltwater & Freshwater Beach in Nanaimo

Nanaimo’s Best Beaches

Summer is here and living on an island, you need to know when the best beaches are when the mercury is rising.  Now there are two options to choose from fresh or salt water. Personally, I prefer the sand and ocean scenery but like to swim in fresh water on a hot sunny day. So here are the top 3 lake and ocean beaches you need to visit on a hot day in Nanaimo. 

Aerial view of Departure Bay Beach swimming area at sun riseDeparture Bay Beach is found just off Departure Bay road in Central Nanaimo. Departure Bay Beach is a central hub in Nanaimo, much like Central Park in New York City. There are many reasons to visit this fantastic area, especially on a hot summer. 

The beach at Departure Bay is in-front-of Kinsman Park, a grassy park with beautiful Snuneymuxw First Nation Totems. There’s a terrific playground, picnic tables and a closed-off swimming area. 

The Swimming area has a dock that, during low tide, will be sitting on the dry beach. Don’t fret. At low tide, much more beach is revealed to explore. 

This beach gets very busy as it's easy to access and ideal for families with young children. Make sure you come early on hot summer days if you want a great spot to sit and watch the waves crest on the beach. 

Aerial View of Piper Lagoon Beach at sunrise Pipers Lagoon Beach is a jaw-dropping local park with some of the most beautiful beaches that extend between the ocean and a large lagoon filled with waterfowl. Found just off Please Road from Hammond Bay Road in North Nanaimo, this is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. 

As you follow the beach, you arrive at rocky outcrops with hidden coves perfect for privacy while you suntan. Accessing these parks is very easy. However, parking is limited, so you need to plan accordingly. 

Once you’ve parked, facing the ocean, to your right is a large grassy area ideal for laying out a beach blanket for picnics. 

Golden sand beaches and blue waters of Blueback Beach Blueback Beach is truly a sight to behold. Kilometres of expansive sandy beaches follow the shorelines of the Dover Bay community of North Nanaimo. Found at the end of Blueback Road in the Dover Bay community of North Nanaimo. The small parking lot will lead you to an insane 300-step wooden staircase that will lead you down to the beach.  

Once you descend the staircase, depending on the tides, you’ll be presented with the most beautiful oceanside beach Nanaimo Has to offer. At low tide, you can walk to Lantzville on the soft golden sands littered with large seashells. 

As you walk, you see eagles and kingfishers hunting the shorelines from the sky and large herons pursuing the water from their next meal. You’ll be awestruck by the vast beauty of this beach.

Make sure you save energy as you have a three-hundred-set staircase to reach the parking lot. To put this into perspective, 300 stairs is the rough equivalent of climbing to the top of a 14-story building! 

Sandy Brannen Beach shoreline at sunsetBrannen Lake Beach is found just off Dunster Road in the Pleasant Valley Neighbourhood of North Nanaimo. A dip in the refreshing water at Brannen Lake is a perfect way to end a summer day. 

The beach has a small sandy shore lined with towering trees providing shade. A new dock is perfect for lounging in the sun after a long swim. And picnic tables if you want to have a picnic or play a game of cards by the lake. 

Brannen Lake Beach faces west, so it’s best to visit in the afternoon if you’re looking for direct sun. The afternoons are busier with boaters on weekends. 

Long Lake Beach swimming area and dockLong Lake Beach is accessed off Victoria Avenue in the uplands neighbourhood of North Nanaimo. The Beach is at Loudon Park, also home to the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club offers lessons if you're inclined. 

The beach has soft sand and a gentle slope leading into the water so you can wade in slowly. Just offshore is a dock that’s ideal for splashing with friends after a cool swim in the lake water. 

Just off the beach is a fishing dock that is perfect for children to learn to fish. There’s also an excellent playground shaded among the trees which will keep the kids entertained when they've had too much sun. 

Long Lake Beach faces northwest, so it’s ideal for swimming from mid-morning till twilight on long summer days. The parking lot is small, so plan accordingly. 

Aerial view of Westwood Lake swimming area Westwood Lake Beach is found at the end of Westwood Road in the South Jingle Pot Neighbourhood of South Nanaimo. This is the best freshwater beach in Nanaimo and is found in Westwood Lake Park. The massive lake is surrounded by towering forests at the foot of Mount Benson. 

The beach is quite long the extends from the boat ramp at the entrance of the park hundreds of meters northwest. 

This is an ideal lake for kayaking, paddle boarding, and floating on an air mattress, as there are no wakes allowed at Westwood Lake. 

The beach at Westwood Lake faces Southwest, meaning the beaches get shady after 8 pm. There’s parking at Westwood lake; however, due to the lake and biking trails, the parking lot fills with more than beachgoers very quickly. Keep an eye out as they will be expanding the parking area and improving the Westwood beach facilities shortly. 

Thank you for taking the time to review the top three fresh water and salt water beaches in Nanaimo. When choosing a beach, plan based on how the sun tracks across the sky. In the mornings, the oceanfront beaches get plentiful sun as they face east, pointing at the rising sun. During the latter part of the day, visit the freshwater beaches at the lakes discussed above. The beaches at the lake primary face west, getting warm sunshine from the setting sun. 

This coming weekend is Canada Day, and we wish everyone a safe long weekend. Make sure you take all precautions in the water, watch your children closely, and wear sunscreen! 

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