Neck Point Nature Walk

We’re not a really a family that enjoys shopping, especially for non food items. I tend to hit my threshold very quickly and can’t remember the last time I spent longer than a hour in a mall looking at clothing. Typically we try to plan our urban consumer experience like a military exercise—clear objectives, get in, get what we need and get out as quickly as possible. If I can’t find what I’m looking for I give up and head to a coffee house to regroup.

Often we’ll include a nature break as an alternative to the mindlessness of the mall. Such was the case when we arrived in Nanaimo a couple of weekends ago with the kids. The weather was perfect so we switched up the order and after lunch headed to Neck Point Park. Jocie and I had been to the park before but we’d never had enough time to really check it out. It did seem like a great place to let the kids explore a bit with lots of great trails, forests, beaches and rocky coves.

Neck Point Beach
A short gravel beach leads out to the islands of Neck Point.

Our first destination was Neck Point, the dramatic geological feature that gives this regional park its name. Several trails take you to the rocky headland and we followed the shore route which gives you some great views towards Pipers Lagoon and out into the Strait of Georgia. The coastline here is predominantly east facing and with the rocky islets should be spectacular for morning photography. I was happy to get a bit of blue in the sky and to have a chance to try out my new Nikon D600 and the 24-85mm kit lens.

Neck Point
A and C race out toward the outer island of Neck Point in Neck Point Regional Park, Nanaimo, BC.

I kept the kids motivated by telling them that there was a “secret passage” out to Neck Point. A small opening in the rocks leads out to a gravel beach that sweeps towards a small island and when we discovered it A and C raced out to the islands beyond. The rocks were fun to climb over and we got some great looks at harlequin ducks swimming around below.

From here we walked through a mix of Garry oak and arbutus trees towards Sunset Beach. There were several sets of stairs and viewing platforms along the way that the kids enjoyed exploring. Sunset Beach was spectacular, although I think that it would be better to photograph in the morning.

Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach – might be a bit better for sunrises!

A and C were flagging a bit at this point so it was a good place to start heading back toward the parking area. A short stroll (and several piggybacks later) our nature break was over. Too soon it was time to head to the mall for some half-hearted shopping (we didn’t last too long).

Neck Point Park is a beautiful little park in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The trails are excellent for small children and there are a variety of different length loops to choose from. The beaches are gorgeous and offer much for the photographer as well. The trails showcase several very sensitive and botanically interesting ecosystems. We’re planning on returning in the spring when there will be flowers in bloom.

Getting There:

Neck Point Park is accessed via Morningside Drive off of Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo. From the Nanaimo Parkway turn onto Aulds Road (as if going to Woodgrove Mall—drive past the mall, don’t give in to temptation). Aulds Road crosses the old Island Highway and becomes Hammond Bay Road. Follow Hammond Bay Road until you see the signage directing you to turn onto Morningside Drive.

Parking Area