Cable Bay is a must-see for the mid-Island explorer, especially if they will walk the extra kilometer to Joan Point Park at Dodd Narrows — the site of a powerful tidal current. You can sit on the moss here and watch boats as they are carried through the rocky channel, seemingly by ancient monsters.
There is a lot of sandstone "beach" to explore here, especially at lower tides.
It's good to see Mudge Island so close, across the narrows from this beach. And then there is Gabriola Island to the left, then Protection Island, then Duke Point and the Harmac pulp mill (in its massive closeness).
A well-established trail starts at the parking area and descends gently for a little less than 2km. Then it crosses a pedestrian bridge and emerges above a beach of stone. You can continue to the right, following the shoreline as close to the water as possible, according to the tideline.
Turn onto Cedar Rd. from the highway (at the south end of the Nanaimo Parkway). You'll follow Cedar Rd. past the landfill and over the Nanaimo River. After the bridge, continue straight ahead until turning right onto MacMillan Rd. Then turn left on Holden Corso Rd., left onto Barnes Rd., and then finally left onto Cedar Heights Crescent. Keep going straight – parking is at the end.
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There are at least two good spots near the Cable Bay trail to launch a dive from. You can turn right off of the main trail, shortly after the power lines, onto a logging road and follow it down to the water. Or you can skip the Cable Bay Trail and just continue past it to the end of Barnes Rd.