Pipers Lagoon Park is the best, most exotic oceanside park in Nanaimo (aside from Newcastle Island, but that's not a fair contest).
The lagoon itself is the size of three football fields. You park at one end and walk along a narrow, straight dyke between the lagoon and the restless surf. The waves from the open water have created a marvellous pebbly beach with a great deal of mermaid's tears (a beautiful product of beach glass). Then it gets rocky; there is some non-technical rock-climbing for those who desire it, and one larger hill covered in arbutus and Garry Oak, eagles, driftwood and views of the Strait.
This "island" can be reached by pedestrians during lower tides.
Shack Island is a T-shaped, exotic slice of short bluffs and rocky beach amidst the shallow waters that separate Pipers Lagoon from Neck Point to the north.
There've been fishermen's cabins here since before the thirties – back when it was a long rowboat journey from downtown Nanaimo to these prime fishing grounds. The shacks were contructed as weekend shelters.
The "shacks" are rustic in appearance and are often thought to be abandoned, but really they are treasured and used as summer cabins by a lucky few descendants of the original owners. So, please be respectful of these properties if you venture there.
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Pipers Lagoon can be reached by turning onto Lagoon Drive from Hammond Bay Road, then taking the first right and going to the end of the street to a parking lot. There is no camping allowed and the gates close at 11pm.
Open in Google Earth (kmz file)