From Whitehorse to Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

On May 3rd, Cathy and I flew and drove to Qualicum Beach to attend a surprise party for my eldest sister’s 75th birthday. It was a wonderful 6-day trip – this is the first of 4 fairly brief (well, brief for me 🙂 ) blog posts about it.

We were on the 07:00 Air North flight out of Whitehorse to start the trip. It was uneventful, with clouds most of the way, even descending into Vancouver – I only shot 3 photos, in the Tweedsmuir Park area.

Flying from Whitehorse to Vancouver
The Harbour Air shuttle from the main terminal at YVR to the South Terminal arrived very quickly, and we soon had our boarding passes for the 20-minute flight to Nanaimo harbour. This was flying the way it used to be – great service, no security, no long waits…

Harbour Air boarding passes
A couple of minutes before 11:00, we were out on the Fraser River in a DHC-6 de Havilland Twin Otter, which seats up to 19 passengers…

Taxiing on the Fraser River in a Harbour Air float plane
Right at our scheduled 11:00 departure time, we lifted off the water. It was wonderful getting this new perspective on getting across the Strait of Georgia – all my previous crossings had been by ferry.

Leaving Vancouver by Harbour Air float plane
At low tide, the islands in the foreground are connected – Mudge Island on the right, and Link Island on the left. In the distance is little Round Island, and Vancouver Island.

Aerial view of Link Island and Mudge Island
Dodd Narrows, at the west end of Mudge Island, can be a challenging transit.

Aerial view of Dodd Narrows, at the west end of Mudge Island
This is the Nanaimo Forest Products operation, including the Harmac Pulp Mill at the far side of the property.

Harmac Pulp Mill, Nanaimo - aerial view
The Nanaimo River estuary is a log booming area as well as a vibrant ecosystem. In June 2017 we had a good look at it when we spent 2 nights at the Living Forest Oceanside Campground, which overlooks it.

Aerial view of the Nanaimo River estuary
This is the cruise ship port at Nanaimo. They did a great job on it but it has pretty much failed. Dad and I docked there while we were on a cruise on the Norwegian Sun in 2013, but large ships were already giving up on Nanaimo because of passenger complaints that there’s nothing to do there. This year, only 3 small ships are visiting – the Azamara Quest, Silver Explorer, and Silver Muse.

Aerial view of the cruise ship port at Nanaimo, BC
Downtown Nanaimo, 19 minutes after lifting off the water at Vancouver. In the foreground are 3 new coastal spill response boats. Built in Singapore for Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, they just arrived in late February. Unfortunately, they were built to support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which has been cancelled. So here the 300-tonne vessels – which cost $5.8-million each – sit for the foreseeable future.

Coastal spill response boats at Nanaimo, BC

We had booked a Budget rental car through Harbour Air. We called Budget from a direct-line phone in the Harbour Air office, and a shuttle driver showed up very quickly to take us a mile or so to their office.

By about 1:00, we had made the easy 52-km drive to Seaview Beach Resort in Qualicum Beach, and were settled in to a lovely little beachfront cottage for a 4-night stay. The final photo shows the view from our cottage.

Seaview Beach Resort in Qualicum Beach, BC


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