Driving Vancouver Island’s Eastern Coast


The comfort in exploring an island by car comes in knowing one cannot too easily get lost, and that if it happens, by all means keep driving and you’ll soon become un-lost again.

I meandered north along the eastern edge of Vancouver Island, departing from Nanaimo, and found myself facing sheets of rain. The forecast had predicted the weather, which ranged from drizzle to downpour, but after a few years of living in Southern California I’d forgotten how quickly one can become rain-drenched if not prepared. Upon re-learning this lesson I know once again it is two seconds less than the time it takes to run from parking space to coffee shop door.

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Destination: Nanaimo, British Columbia


Nanaimo, like all towns on Vancouver Island,  is small. The city has a few nicknames, including The Harbour City (no explanation needed) and the Bathtub Racing Capital of the World (true story). It is also known for its Nanaimo Bars, a no-bake Canadian dessert bar with distinct layers of custard and chocolate promoted by Tourism Nanaimo via The Nanaimo Bar Trail – reason enough to visit.

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Ferrying from Vancouver to Nanaimo

Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, British Columbia

A ferry pulls into Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, British Columbia

Ferries ain’t no thing but a chicken wing to many Pacific Northwesties, but until I’d traveled to Nanaimo, a larger town on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, I’d never taken one alone. Driving aboard was childishly thrilling, akin to reaching the next level of a video game; the worlds I’d conquered during my travels thus far—deserts, farmland, mountains—were all “played” on land. Here was the water level, and a new kind of notch in my figurative travel belt.

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