Get thee to nature

Westwood Lake. By Mallory Marrs
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It’s often said that getting out into nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Take a break from studying, relax, and recharge in one of these beautiful locations:

Westwood Lake

An eight minute bus ride from VIU, this beautiful lake boasts a 5.5 km trail, as well as a public beach. Walk or run the trail, swim or kayak the lake, or hike to the bluffs on the east side of the park and enjoy an unobstructed view of the water.

Buttertubs Marsh

One of the top locations for birdwatching in Nanaimo, Buttertubs is within easy walking distance of campus. Walk or run along the 2 km loop or bring your camera and head out onto one of the park’s many observation decks to view birds, turtles, and other wildlife.

Colliery Dam

Also within walking distance of VIU, Colliery Dam Park offers trails and water access. The dams have been around since 1910 and were initially created for use in the mining industry. Today, the park provides a short but scenic hike as well as seasonal fishing and swimming.

Mount Benson

Ever wanted to scale even more of the mountain that VIU is built on? Several hiking trails lead up Mount Benson, offering approximately four to five hours of hiking time. The summit provides an amazing 360-degree view of Nanaimo and surrounding area, and there are paths to multiple viewpoints that branch off the trail on the way up. If you’re lucky, you might even see the whisky jack, Canada’s national bird.

Protection Island

A short ferry ride from Nanaimo, Protection Island offers beaches and walking trails. The ferry takes you right to the Dinghy Dock Pub, Canada’s only floating pub. From there, soak in views of the city from across the harbour or take a stroll along the beach and breathe the salty sea air.

Newcastle Island

Another quick ferry ride away, Newcastle Island is a haven for bird watchers, kayakers, and hikers. Trails, beaches, and scenic views make this island the perfect destination for a day trip.

Pipers Lagoon

Located in northern Nanaimo, Pipers Lagoon is ideal for beachcombing enthusiasts. The park contains trails and lookout points, as well plenty of wildlife—especially birds. Pipers Lagoon is also home to the endangered Garry oak, as well as the beautiful red arbutus.

Harbourfront Walkway

With floating restaurants and sea-themed shops along the route, the Harbourfront Walkway offers a blend of urban- and seascape. Continually expanding, the Walkway currently stretches from the Port Theatre to Cypress Street.