- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
If you’re wandering along the harbor and looking for a spot to relax with a hot drink, you won’t do better than Javawocky (90 Front St., 250/753-1688, Mon.–Fri. from 6:15 a.m., Sat.–Sun. from 7 a.m., lunches $4.50–8), overlooking the harbor. It offers all the usual coffee drinks, great milkshakes, inexpensive cakes and pastries, and light lunchtime snacks. Across the promenade from Javawocky is the marina, where you can buy seafood (salmon, halibut, cod, snapper, shrimp, crabs, mussels, and more)—perfect if you’re camping or have a motel room with a kitchen.
Also at the marina is Troller’s (104 Front St., 250/741-7994, daily for lunch and dinner in summer, $8–15), with tables and chairs set up around a small takeout counter on one of the arms of the floating dock. As you may expect, the specialty is fish-and-chips.
Overlooking the marina, Lighthouse Bistro (50 Anchor Way, 250/754-3212, daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $8–15.50) is built over the water and has a large heated outdoor deck. The salmon chowder is excellent, served with delicious bread.
Dinghy Dock Pub (250/753-2373, daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $12–19) is a floating restaurant moored at nearby Protection Island. Well known for great food and plenty of seagoing atmosphere, the pub also hosts live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. To get to the restaurant, take a ferry from Nanaimo Boat Basin. Ferries (250/753-8244) depart hourly 9:10 a.m.–11:10 p.m.
For some of the best Mexican food on the island, head for Gina’s Mexican Cafe, behind the courthouse (47 Skinner St., 250/753-5411, daily for lunch and dinner, $8–17). The building, a converted residence, is hard to miss—the exterior is painted shades of purple and decorated with a fusion of Mexican and maritime memorabilia.
What started just over 30 years ago as a simple produce stand has grown into the Old Country Market (250/248-6272, daily 8 a.m.–9 p.m.), the lifeblood of Coombs, along Highway 4A west of Nanaimo. Before moving inside the market building, you’ll want to stand out front and look upward, where several goats can be seen contentedly grazing along the roof line, seemingly oblivious to the amused, camera-clicking visitors. Inside is a selection of goodies of epic proportions—a bakery, deli, ice-cream stand, and a wealth of healthy island-grown produce. Behind the main building and in an adjacent property are rows of arty shops selling everything from pottery to jewelry to kites.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition