Explore the Waterfront

Penny’s Palapa is located in Nanaimo’s waterfront marina. There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful working harbour. Stop in for an hour or the day. Whether you’re visiting Nanaimo, or just passing through.

Nanaimo Bastion

98 Front Street: Tour the historic Nanaimo Bastion. Attend a daily cannon firing at noon during the summer season. Access the seasonal Visitors Center.

Pioneer Waterfront Plaza

90 Front Street: Pioneer Plaza offers the waterfronts most accessible parking, quick access to floating restaurants, the shops of Pioneer Plaza, and is the jumping off place for Nanaimo’s downtown seaplane service, Harbour Air. Fridays the Plaza hosts Nanaimo’s Downtown Farmers’ Market.

Nanaimo Harbourfront Walkway

The walkway connects the Marina, and Pioneer Plaza with Maffeo Sutton Park. Both offer great parking. It also connects with paths leading into Nanaimo’s tranquil riverfront Bowen Park. The path continues further north, along the waterfront past Newcastle Channel and into Departure Bay Ferry Terminal.

Protection Island Ferry

154 Promenade Drive: Nanaimo’s Marina is home to the Protection Island passenger ferry. Linking locals and tourists alike to beautiful Protection Island. The residential island is dotted with public parks and beaches.

Saysutshun – Newcastle Island

A passenger ferry service to Newcastle Island Marine Park operates from a dock located in Maffeo Sutton Park. Extensive hiking trails, beaches, camping, and historical and cultural sites.

Maffeo Sutton Park

100 Comox Road: Maffeo Sutton Park is home to picturesque Swyalana Lagoon, picnic tables, crabbing dock, a large waterfront island-themed playground, and plenty of parking.

It is also home to many of Nanaimo’s seasonal festivals including the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race which features a two-day music festival as well as a brilliant fireworks show.

Tourism Nanaimo is a great resource for both locals and tourists: see events listings here. 

A large dock in the center of the park invites you to try crabbing. Everything you need to get started can be found at the Harbour Chandler.

Nanaimo Bar Trail

We can’t wait to share our new Nanaimo Bar Margarita with you!

We highly recommend the handmade Nanaimo bar ice cream at Waterfront Confections in Pioneer Plaza, or take a stroll to Bocca Cafe in The Old City Quarter to enjoy a large array of award-winning Nanaimo bars.

Tourism Nanaimo: Nanaimo Bar Trail

McGregor Park

108 Front Street: Nearest and dearest to us, oceanfront Mcgregor Park has shady benches, landscaped grass seating, and a charming clocktower. The park also encompasses the 1 kilometer walkway around Cameron Island’s Promenade Drive.

Diana Krall Plaza

125 Commercial Street: This centrally located plaza hosts a variety of events throughout the summer. It’s also a great starting point for those looking for a variety of services. Library, banks, shops and eateries are located along Commercial Street in both directions. The Plaza is the go-to spot to view any of Nanaimo’s summertime parades.

Old City Quarter

Fitzwilliam Street: The Old City Quarter is a colourful mix of revitalized heritage buildings offering charming boutiques and specialty shops. Leaving the marina, it is two blocks inland along Bastion Street.


As user’s of Nanaimo Marina we care about our environment. Any visit to the Nanaimo Marina offers a chance to view coastal wildlife.

Seals, Otters, Sea Lions, Killer Whales, and Dolphins call our beautiful harbour home, and trust us, we’ve seen them all! Commerants are seen sunning on posts. Eagles can be spotted overhead, while Kingfishers flit amongst the boats. Local fisherman cause a bustle in the harbour, when they head out for Rock Cod, Ling Cod, Herring, and many Salmon species.

As the tide fluctuates, the Nanaimo Marina becomes the perfect arena for viewing an endless variety of starfish, crabs, mussels, sponges, and sea cucumbers.

Road to Tofino

We all dream of waxing our boards and hitting the road to Tofino. Taking a coastal holiday can work up an appetite! Once we’ve fueled up at Penny’s Palapa in Nanaimo, we recommend stops at Cuckoo’s Trattoria in Coombs for some local italiana, and at Tacofino at journey’s end.

Don’t just take our word for it! Many travelers return to Penny’s to tell us about their journey over enchiladas.