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when you stay at our nanaimo hotel visit newcastle islandA geographical feature has to be something pretty special to be considered a "gem" on Vancouver Island, let alone THE gem of the Island. Yet, this is exactly how the BC government described Newcastle Island, a ten minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo, when they began plans to develop it into a provincial park. Today, Newcastle is one of the busiest tourist hot spots on the Island, although you the number of visitors don't make one feel crowded. The majority of these visitors are attracted to Newcastle because of the incredible variation and beauty of the natural scenery there. Newcastle Island is a wonderful mixture of sandstone cliffs and caverns, rocky and sandy beaches, and rolling upland meadows dotted with Gary Oak, arbutus, Douglas fir and Dogwood trees. At low tide, even more beach is revealed and visitors can cross from Newcastle to nearby Protection Island on foot, taking in the many opportunities the water's retreat reveals along the way. As a tide pool enthusiast (as are most people who wander about the beaches of Vancouver Island) this offers some of the most engaging activities on Newcastle for me and my family. I love to see the thousands of tiny crabs, shells, fish, anemones, and other types of sea life left behind as the water recedes. Newcastle Island offers other opportunities for wildlife lovers as well. Bird watching is a major past time for many who come to this island. The man made lake at the centre of the island (Mallard) attracts dozens of waterfowl. You also have the chance to see "golden" raccoons, black tailed deer, beaver, and river otters. Scenery is another big draw for those who make the trip to this island. With deep blue waters, white sand, and flat grey rocks all along the coastline, there's something here to catch the eye of any photographer. I can't even begin to describe the breathtaking beauty of a sunset viewed from the coast line! If you are in the Nanaimo area, make sure to pay a visit to Newcastle Island. There are plenty of opportunities for those who love hiking, biking, camping, and anything to do with nature in general!