I moved to Nanaimo a few months ago and recently met a girl I really like. We’ve done the dinner and a movie thing and a few desert dates, so I’d love to take her somewhere a little more active… see what she’s made of! The only thing is, both of us are on a budget. Do you have any ideas for a cheap dates, maybe outdoors?
–Seeking Inspiration (♂ Nanaimo, BC)
Great question, we wondered exactly the same thing when we moved to Nanaimo. So, here’s our top five…
Or Frolf as Jeff calls it, is way more rad than I imagined and makes a sweet, slightly competitive date. Plus, it turns out we have one of the prettiest courses, right here in our back yard! Bowen Park Disc Golf in Central Nanaimo is an 18 hole course, with two throwing platforms at each hole for recreational players and the more advanced. The first basket is located roundabout at the Rose Garden in Bowen Park (you can park in the lot just inside the driveway) And if you don’t have your own discs already, borrow them from the admin office (M-F 8:30am -4:30pm) or you can sign out putters and drivers overnight, for free (be ready to present a drivers license or other ID) at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre just down the road anytime between 6am and 9:30pm – don’t forget to ask for a record sheet (or download one here)
In general, Vancouver Island is rife with geocaches, but Nanaimo takes the cake for most caches past the Malahat. In case you aren’t familiar, Geocaches are containers hidden according to geocoordinates that usually contain a logbook and trinkets for trade. All you need to get started is a free app for your phone, a couple bits and bobs to trade and a pen. It’s a great way to spice up a date before a movie starts, the ferry arrives or the your favorite band takes the stage.
Just a few minutes off of Hwy 19 in Nanaimo’s South Jinglepot area, Westwood Lake has a similar atmosphere to cottage country in Ontario, minus the bugs. There are sandy beaches, swimming, a 6km hike around the lake (or a shorter loop around the peninsula if you prefer), some lovely secluded sitting spots, and crowded picnic areas, depending on your taste. The park has public washroom and shower facilities, as well as a gated parking lot. The first time we went we saw a sign for Yoga on the Beach and a paddleboard rental truck. Bring a cooler full of food, your towels and suites and you’re set for a day date! (Google Map)
If you have access to a canoe, kayaks or even a really big log, you and your date can paddle over to Newcastle Island, across from downtown Nanaimo and spend the day walking the trails and watching the eagles. For the less adventurous, you can take the walk on ferry for $10 per person, return. Learn more about the island on their website.
$3 public swim (almost free).
If you are more of an indoor swimmer, you can swim from 9-10pm for $3 at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre (Google Map).
Crace Mountain House (not free, but worth it).
What would this list be without a live music venue? If you are into underground music with a cozy vibe, check out Crace Mountain. They have two houses on Crace Street in Naniamo which are consistently filled with kind folks. Most shows are a $10 suggested donation. For the most up to date news on up-coming shows, join their facebook group.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you come up with any others to add to the list.