I am very fortunate that travel is a big part of my job and sometimes I even get to invite my little sister panda to come out with me! Those that know me know that Maui is my favorite place on Earth but another top 5 favorite in Nanaimo. For those who have never heard of Nanaimo, perhaps you’ve heard of a yummy chocolate dessert called a “Nanaimo Bar”? You guessed it, that’s where it originates from! Absolute deliciousness. Nanaimo is a beautiful city on Vancouver Island. It is also known as “The Harbour City”. It is very known for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking and boating etc. Something about that Nanaimo air makes everyone there so pleasant to be around, not to mention the beautiful weather!
I was in Nanaimo for work and had about 8 hours of free time there. Whenever I am in a new city the thing I like to check out the most is the food! So read along to follow my 1 day food adventure in Nanaimo!
Let’s start out with the morning view I got to wake up to. WOW, just so amazing. Absolutely no filters. I literally woke up, opened my curtains and took this picture. The boats, the water, the mountains and trees absolutely breathtaking. Not to mention that familiar smell of being my the waters.
Once I was done getting ready, I headed out of the hotel and walked towards the waterfront. There I found coffee shops, gift shops, dessert places, restaurants and other transportation such as seaplanes!
I headed down the stairs towards the Harbour and I come across this little coffee café. “Javawocky Coffee House” – how cute is the name!
I walk in and its pretty packed, so obviously I went to the right place! I patiently wait in line and try to decide if I am feeling coffee or tea. I have a thing for handwritten/chalkboard menus! I think I spent more time admiring the chalkboards than the menu itself.
I get to the counter and very nice lady greets me and I asked her for suggestions. She suggests I try their Shanghai Fog beverage and Breakfast Bagel. Done! A Shanghai Fog is essentially a London Fog, it consists of Jasmine Tea, Steamed Milk and Vanilla. The drink was so yummy! I am not a huge fan of potent and overly sweet drinks but this was the perfect blend of tea taste and vanilla – not too over powering. Definitely would order this again.
Overall rating: 8.5/10 – although it was super yummy, I found there was more foam than usual – perhaps this is just a personal preference!
On to the Breakfast Bagel! I have eaten lots of breakfast sandwiches in my life but this sandwich, my god! It was heavenly. I do not claim to be a bagel expert, but this bagel was closer to a croissant texture and was soooo soft. The sandwich consisted of fresh greens and tomatoes, fluffy eggs, smoked ham and REAL cheddar cheese – yes that’s right, REAL cheese! None of that packed processed cheese crap!
Overall rating: 9/10 – So good! I think the only thing that would have made this 10/10 was if there were avocados in the sandwich!
Now my tummy was full, off to walk the Harbor! One thing I noticed was that everyone was very active. Lots of people walking their dogs, rollerblading, biking and running. It was pretty cool! Everyone was so friendly too, not a single person didn’t say hi as I passed them. There were lots of street performers too. Almost everywhere I walked there was someone playing the guitar and singing. It was quiet nice. This was just one of the many beautiful views along the harbor!
I made my way to the Walking/Fishing Pier. It was pretty cool! Many people there with their friends and family of all ages fishing and setting crab traps! I have never seen that before it was pretty awesome.
Next up was Protection Island. I was told to visit Protection Island whenever I made it to Nanaimo. There’s a ferry that leaves for Protection Island every hour. It’s about a 10-15 min ferry ride and cost $9.00 round trip per person. You even have an option to bring your bike for $5.00 and/or dog for an additional $2.00 – pretty neat!
When you arrive at Protection island, you dock at a little restaurant called “The Dinghy Dock Pub”. It is super cute. The restaurant is literally on the boat with some cute sailor type decors all over.
Really good service too! I was told the seafood chowder soup and fish and chips were super good. So I decided to give it a try. I absolutely loved the seafood chowder. Very flavorful and lots of seafood.
Overall rating: 9/10 – wish it came with a bun rather than crackers
I couldn’t find the picture of the fish and chips unfortunately. It wasn’t bad but wasn’t the greatest I’ve had. Perhaps my standard for this dish was really high because many people built it up for me.
Overall rating: 6.5/10 – batter was too thick for me and because the batter was so thick it felt like they had to deep fried it for longer so it took away from the fish itself.
Protection Island is super unique because there is no bridge and no ferry that can carry a vehicle over, therefore the only mode of transportation on the island is biking or golf carts! That’s right- golf carts! SO AWESOME right?
The island is full of cute little houses within walking distance of the Dinghy Dock Pub. Even found their Fire house – super cute!
I ferried back to Nanaimo and decided to walk around some more. I came across a Farmer’s market at the harbour. Lots of local goods!
I headed over to the downtown area, but noticed that it was pretty quiet and it was only 4:30pm or so. I guess lots of stores close down around 6 in the downtown area. So I just headed up back to my hotel and chilled out till dinner time.
7PM rolled around and dinner was in order! During my walk I noticed this little restaurant on a boat again on the harbor. It was called “Trollers Fish & Chips” so I wanted to check it out. The restaurant was located in the actual marina so people’s personal boats were docked around it was pretty fascinating.
Here is a picture of the menu! It had a little bit of everything for everyone. I ended up wanting to try a few things. So I ordered a Halibut Burger, Cod Fish and Chips, and Seafood Chowder.
**Please note: I did finish everything lol so don’t worry I did not have 3 meals by myself haha**
Halibut Burger: 9/10 – The halibut was soooo tasty. The homemade tzatziki topped it off!
Cod Fish & Chips: 9/10 – I really enjoyed the Fish and Chips here because the batter wasn’t as thick. The batter was actually really airy which I enjoyed much more!
Seafood Chowder: 7.5/10 – I think I may have gotten the bottom part of the pot as it was nearing the end of the day. It was good, but I didn’t get as much seafood as I had expected and just felt some salt and pepper was needed.
Service: 10/10 – The service here was amazing! The people who work here are obviously very proud of the food they put out and should keep up the good work!
After dinner I walked around the Marina, it was really pretty and again everyone I encountered was super friendly. I obviously was super stuffed from dinner but because I was leaving at 4:30AM the next morning I had to squeeze in a Nanaimo Bar somehow! There are a few ways I noticed Nanaimo bars were served in Nanaimo. They are either served in their regular bar form or:
- as a cheesecake
- deep fried or
- ice cream form
I walked pass “Waterfront Confections” and opt for the ice cream kind. The employees were super sweet and allowed me to sample different kinds of ice cream and gelatos but I obviously ended up getting Nanaimo Bar ice cream. If you haven’t tried a Nanaimo bar yet, I would highly suggest trying it in an ice cream form. How can any ice cream be bad???
Overall Rating: 10/10 – perfect amount of chocolate, vanilla and coconut!
The rest of the night was a little bit of a blur because I was clearly in a food coma! Alright Pandas thanks for following along!! If you are from Nanaimo or have been to Nanaimo let me know of other food places I should check out next time I am in town! Until next time my Pandas!