I hope your summer was spent in a wake of freedom, bright with the knowledge that after a few short sun-filled (and briefly, smoke-filled) days you would be trudging up the good ol’ VIU stairs.

If you are new to VIUmaybe fresh out of high school, or maybe this is your first time seeing the oceanthen welcome! Hello! If you’re a returning student, nostalgic for the Land of Rabbits and Stairs, then welcome back, we missed you.

Compiled here is a list of off-campus locations for new and returning students. Nanaimo is filled with resources for work and play, and hopefully this will show you a few new spots to check out. Be it the bookstore that opened up this summer, or a place to escape books after a lengthy stay at the library, we’ve got you covered.

For Wellness!

Your health and well-being should always be in the back of your mind, especially as a student. VIU is a loving and nurturing campus; the faculty will be there when you need help, and your fellow students will be there when you need a cry, a laugh, or just acknowledgement that yeahthat one course does suck. There will be times, however, when you may have to look for more than a helpful hand or extra hot bubble bath.

VIU Health and Wellness Centre

Student Services Building (Building 200)

The Student Health Clinic is accessible students enrolled at VIU, and appointments can be booked at 250-740-6620. There are a number of walk-in clinics in town, but the campus centre is a great resource to have in your back pocket.


87 Wallace Street

In addition to walk-in procedures, LifeLabs runs community laboratory tests to determine a patient’s needs. There is the option to schedule appointments including (but not limited to): blood pressure tests, prenatal tests, and DOT/non-DOT Drug Screening. There is also the GetCheckedOnline program, which tests for STIs, HIV, and hepatitis C.

Natural Treatments for Colds & Flu

Bowen Park Complex

If there’s one thing guaranteed in September, it’s a cold. This course (on September 23) will teach you how to treat colds using all natural remedies, and how to strengthen your immune system so that you’ll never have to call in to class sick again.


It can’t all be stairs, homework, and classes, (although there are plenty of professors out there who seem to think it should be.) Making time away from the desk, even 45 minutes a week, can be just the refresh button you need.

Breakout Nanaimo

101-321 Wallace Street

When you need a night away from campus without the guilt of procrastination, collect up to five friends friends and head downtown. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like the realization that attending university hasn’t prepared you at all to escape a themed puzzle room. Really, challenging yourself to think differently is a brain exercise, and brain exercises equal studying, so…

Cable Bay Trail

Cable Bay/Nicola Road

This four kilometer trail overlooks Gabriola and Dodd’s Narrows.The easiest way to access this path is to park at the end of Nicola Road. Cable Bay has everything to suit your fancy; let the dogs run free, prod pools filled with crabs, and occasionally spy on some seals. Just remember to keep your eyes open folks, because if you’re incredibly lucky, you might find a dinosaur or two.

Blueback Beach

Blueback Road

Walk for miles in any direction, but just remember that on the way back you have to do 250 stairs. After a few weeks on campus though, that’s nothing. What Blueback offers that VIU can’t are otters, seals, starfish, and great picnic beaches. I recommend going around low-tide, for sand-in-your-toes opportunities.


What every student needs is a stack of books to look forward to at the end of term. Here are a few local spots to help that pile grow.

Windowseat Books

309C Wesley Street

Opening its doors just this August, Windowseat Books is an independent bookstore situated in Old City Quarter. They carry both new and used books, with special attention to local authors and self-acknowledged to be “small in size, but big in heart.”

Strong Nations

1970 Island Diesel Way

Strong Nations offers a phenomenal variety of Indigenous literary text, graphic novels, and children’s books. They also have some beautiful, hand-crafted arts and gifts. Their mission is to “bring Indigenous content into the lives of all peoples in order to create pathways that support the building of strong nations together.”

Well Read Books

19 Commercial Street

Located inside Literacy Central in downtown Nanaimo, Well Read Books offers a plethora of previously-owned books. The donated books they acquire and sell help to fund their free literacy program, so every purchase helps the community.

 For Food!

The VIU student card offers a glut of good cheap food. In case you’re thinking of exploring outside the realm of cheese pizza and pre-packed sushi, here are a few spots worth pulling out the elastic-waist pants for.

Nanaimo Bar Trail

Visitor Centres

I’m continuously surprised at how few people have attempted the Nanaimo Bar Trail. The self-guided tour includes 39 opportunities to taste the world-renowned Nanaimo Bar. Refreshingly, there’s a good selection of Nanaimo-bar-infused treats, just to give your pallet a rest. The trail offers a good excuse for Nanaimo born-and-bred to get out on the town, and if you’re a newcomer then you’ll get bragging rights. I challenge you to indulge in all 39.

The Kebap

1420 Wingrove Street

When you need a messy, mouth-watering, locally-supported sandwich this is the place you’re going to want to head to. And they’re practically on Departure Bay Beach, so The Kebap makes for a perfect picnic. If you don’t mind the attention of a seagull or two.

Cold Front Gelato

306-60 Commercial Street

Licorice; Lavender Honey; Raspberry Rhubarb; Mint Chocolate Stracciatella; London Fog; Matcha; Vanilla; and the promise of a Nanaimo Bar flavour to come. If that’s not enough to get you downtown for made-from-scratch, traditional Italian-inspired gelato… then maybe the hand-rolled, sugared waffle cones will.