1. You're Still in Canada
That means Canadian health care, no need for a passport, no fluctuating money exchange, and all of the advantages of citizenship, 'eh? And depending where you're coming from, it's probably closer than driving south!
2. Winter Activities & Athletics
Use it or lose it! The list of great outdoor winter activities is a long one on the Island. Golfing, hiking, kayaking, cycling, bird watching, sailing, scuba diving and surfing are just a few of the popular activities. And if you like traditional Canadian winter sports, such as skiing, boarding, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing; Mt. Washington is just a short 1.5 hour drive away. Winter exists on Vancouver Island, but it doesn't deliver to your door most of the time. There's no bad weather -- only inappropriate clothing! Get the right stuff and get outdoors!
Still timid about the outdoors in the Winter? Nanaimo offers tons of great indoor recreation too: two fabulous aquatic centres including wave pools, steam rooms, weights and aerobic equipment, water slides and hot tubs. There's also multiple indoor ice surfaces for skating, a climbing room, gymnasiums with drop in and organized sports, a curling rink, community clubs and classes at Vancouver Island University for just about anything you're interested in -- you'll run out of winter before you run out of things to do on the Island.
3. Saving Money
Many snowbirds, whose home is where winter is truly cold, find that by converting their household to 'away' mode, and turning down the heat and utilies, that they save enough money to pay for the low monthly winter rates at the Living Forest ($395-$470/month-- full details above). Plus, you don't have to winterize and store your RV- just come to the Island and live in it. Heck, you paid for the darn thing-- get your money's worth by using it year round! Here on the Island, we don't even know what block heaters are!
That being said, remember that in an RV, your water supply hose is above ground, so heat tape and a foam insulation tube is needed- it does go below freezing occasionally at night and blown hoses are not what you want to wake up to the next morning.
4. Fifty three acres of Pristine Waterfront Living
The Living Forest is a special property, with water on three sides, tall trees and spacious sites. The majestic Nanaimo River completes its long journey from inland mountains and lakes and joins the ocean at the Living Forest. Whether your site overlooks the ocean or the river, you can't help being moved by nature's show.
If you begin your winter stay October 1, you'll have a front row seat to watch one of the world's great miracles-- thousands of salmon parading past the Living Forest to their upriver spawning grounds. The salmon run also brings hundreds of eagles, just one of the more than 50 species of birds on the property. Seals and otters are common sights at the start and end of each day. Nanaimo's busy harbour always provides something to watch, with ferries, freighters, tugs and yachts always on the go.
Enjoy over 2 km of quiet paved roads in the park for gentle strolling or cycling, and there's also many trails where you'll think you're miles from anywhere, instead of a five minute drive to downtown.
5. The Clubhouse
The adult section of the clubhouse features one room for games -- pool table, card or game tables, and a big classic wooden shuffleboard table -- remember those? And if you want to plan a meal with other snowbirds or visiting family, there's kitchen facilies too.
There's also a sumptuous lounge area with granite faced fireplace, gorgeous leather furniture and a big screen video screen. What a great place to enjoy an evening and meet other snowbirds (or even just relax in while doing laundry in our well equipped laundromat).
Need a 'Mall-o-day'? You may have not know that there's more square feet of retail space in Nanaimo per capita than anywhere else in North America! Whether you like big malls, or the personal touch of Nanaimo's historic downtown shops and galleries, you'll find an incredible selection of shopping opportunities -- heck, you can even buy fabulous manaimo bars here -- who knew?
And for those day to day things, there's a great little outdoor mall within walking distance to the Living Forest with a major grocery store, gas, bank, medical and dental offices, hair salon, drug store, spa, fitness centre, bakery, liquor store, Subway, A&W, a great little Sushi restaurant, a take out pizza place, a Smitty's, and of course the mandatory Tim Hortons -- with drive through. Jeepers, there's even a new RONA building supply store and Buckerfields. Did I forget the fine steak house a block away?
7. Dining Out & Entertainment
Island folks like to eat and enjoy a night out. Name your favourite type of food, and we'll tell you about a great restaurant (or two or three) nearby that serves it. With chef teams from the Culinary Arts program at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island University having won gold medals at the World Culinary Olympic many many times, it only makes sense! Chefs cook, snowbirds eat -- it's a natural!
The sun sets early in the winter, so there's lots to do after dark in Nanaimo. Many outstanding performers in the arts call the Island home. That makes for a thriving live theatre scene (both amateur and professional), live music of all kinds, clubs, and dancing for all ages, concerts, 19 movie screens -- heck there's even a casino.
There's also plenty of live sports on tap too -- to watch or play! The Nanaimo Clippers are always in the hunt with over 2000 cheering fans at every one of their Jr. A hockey home games. Vancouver Island University enjoys success with their soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams. The Nanaimo Hornets Rugby Club hosts international play, there's an active Island soccer league, lots of high school sports, and of course, Nanaimo is home to one of Canada's top Jr. football champions, the Vancouver Island Raiders.
A night at our nationally recognized 800 seat Port Theatre comes with incredible acoustics and sight lines in an intimate atmosphere. Touring acts of modern dance, ballet, jazz, blues, pop, rock, country, and symphony grace our stage from across the country and around the world! Greater Nanaimo is well over 100,000 people, but still has a small town feel. And if you really think you have to, Victoria and Vancouver are only about two hours away.
8. Exploring Incredible Vancouver Island
Our location on the Island also adds to making the Living Forest such a great winter destination. If you had a year to explore the Island, it wouldn't be enough -- it's the size of England or Costa Rica, and the list of places to visit and things to see just goes on and on. Nanaimo has always been called the hub city because of it's proximity to the rest of the Island. Join Owner's family member Scott Littlejohn for weekly area park walks & hikes.
Tell us what you want to see and do, and we'll provide directions and local knowledge. Our family & staff have lived on the Island for almost 50 years. We've explored all over, under, around and above this special place. But be warned, the more you see, the more you'll love the Island -- don't be surprised if you start looking at real estate ads after a bit of time here...
9. Avoid the Crowds of the High Season
Many of the more popular Island sights and attractions can get busy in the summer. But in the winter season, many of Nanaimo's 200 parks and other favourite Island attractions will feel like you're the only people there -- it's heavenly!
Part of the attraction of coming to the Living Forest is to be able to just look at the fabulous view from your RV window, have a cup of tea, read a book, go online, or just have a nap. There's always tomorrow when you're on holiday!