More Qualicum beach time, and flying from Nanaimo to Vancouver

Monday, May 6 was our last full day on Vancouver Island, and beaches were our focus for that afternoon and the next morning. Then we packed up and flew in a Harbour Air float plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver for a one-night visit.

After leaving the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre just after 3:00 pm, we returned to Qualicum Beach to take a walk on the beach.

The beach at Qualicum Beach, BC
The beach was once again nearly empty – I expect that in a few weeks it won’t be this quiet.

The beach at Qualicum Beach, BC
There was a bit of sea grass and other vegetation in a few places that created some wonderful patterns.

The beach at Qualicum Beach, BC
We only stayed for half an hour or so, then drove back to our cottage a few miles away.

The beach at Qualicum Beach, BC
Sunset that night at the Seaview Beach Resort was lovely, and sunrise the next morning was spectacular. The next photo was shot at 05:33.

A spectacular sunrise at the Seaview Beach Resort at Qualicum Beach, BC
Cathy and I spent a long time trying to figure out a fin that very slowly cruised back and forth past our cottage. As we were leaving, the manager told us it was the flipper of a lounging sea lion.

Sea lion flipper at Qualicum Beach
At 10:00 we had one last look around the cottage and started the drive back to Nanaimo. The Seaview Beach Resort had been absolutely perfect for this family gathering and for chilling after.

Cottage at Seaview Beach Resort, Qualicum Beach, BC
The Harbour Air base in the harbour in downtown Nanaimo.

The Harbour Air base in the harbour in downtown Nanaimo.
Walking to our aircraft at 11:38. C-FHAD is a 1956 De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter. This aircraft, Otter #119, has had a very colourful history, including serving with the US Army in Vietnam for a few years, then as a bush plane in Quebec.

C-FHAD, a 1956 De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter
Right at the scheduled 11:45, we were away for the 20-minute flight back to Vancouver. Downtown Nanaimo and the waterfront have seen dramatic changes over the past 30 years or so, all of them positive from a visitor’s perspective.

An aerial view of part of Nanaimo's waterfront
In the centre of the next photo is the large BC Ferries dock. This was our first trip to Vancouver Island using floatplanes rather than the ferries – it certainly won’t be our last.

BC Ferries dock at Nanaimo, BC
There are some very cool islands in the Salish Sea. This one, Snake Island, is particularly intriguing. It sure looks like you could land a small bush plane on that strip of grass 🙂

Snake Island, BC
Fourteen minutes after taking off from Nanaimo, we passed over the are where the muddy water from the Fraser River meets the clear salty waters of the Salish Sea.

The muddy water from the Fraser River meets the clear salty waters of the Salish Sea
This is a view of YVR I’d never had before.

YVR from a float plane
The Harbour Air base on the Frase River.


On the downwind leg of the landing circuit, about to turn onto the base leg.

Landing at the float base at YVR
Strong winds made the landing pretty rough.

Landing a float plane on the Fraser River in a strong wind
As we taxied past, Seair Seaplanes was just launching C-FDHC, their gorgeous Turbo Beaver.

C-FDHC Turbo Beaver

I had rented a car for my activities the following day, and that turned out to be more complicated than expected. I rented for pickup at the South Terminal, where the float plane base is, but Budget doesn’t actually have any cars there. So we took Harbour Air’s shuttle to the main terminal, got our car, and made the short drive to the River Rock Casino Resort, where we had reservations for one night.

Our room at the River Rock was great for plane-watching – traffic for runway 26R passed right over us, and with Flight24Radar I got the aircraft identification.


All of the food venues at the River Rock were either closed or didn’t appeal to us, so we drove into the commercial heart of Richmond and had an excellent dinner. The next day, after visiting some graves of my family members, Cathy would move into downtown Vancouver for a conference and I’d fly home to Whitehorse.



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