Wild Play Element Park, 35 Nanaimo River Rd. (tel. 888/668-7874 or 250/753-5867; www.wildplayparks.com; follow signs from Nanaimo Lakes exit off Hwy. 1, south of Nanaimo), has North America's first legal bridge jump, which sends you over the Nanaimo River for C$100. For another adrenaline rush at this recreation hot spot (which also includes sky diving, paintball, a swinging bridge obstacle course, and a high-elevation swing), consider a ride on the zip-line (C$60), which launches daredevils, attached to a steel cable by a climbing harness, across a wooded canyon at speeds near 100kmph (62 mph).
While all of the waters off Vancouver Island are known for their superior diving opportunities, those around Nanaimo benefit from the efforts of the Nanaimo Dive Association, which is working to make Nanaimo a world-class diving destination. Rather unique are three artificial reefs formed by the sinking of decommissioned cargo ships just off the Nanaimo coastline. The HMCS Saskatchewan and the HMCS Cape Breton together form a reef 228m (748 ft.) in length. A third boat, the rescue tug Rivtow Lion, lies in shallow water just off Newport Island and is used for training. One of the single best dives in the Northwest is at Dodds Narrows, between Vancouver Island and Mudge Island. It boasts outstanding visibility, a high concentration of wildlife, and dramatic rock formations. Other area dives include Snake Island Wall, with a drop-off that seems to extend into the abyss.
With an office right on the waterfront, Sundown Diving, 22 Esplanade (tel. 250/753-1880; www.sundowndiving.com), offers diving instruction, equipment rentals, and boat charters to most of the top diving spots in the Nanaimo area. Another local outfitter, Mamro Adventures, 1-5765 Turner Rd., Ste. 203 (tel. 250/756-8872; www.mamro.com), can accommodate six passengers on trips of 1 to 10 days. Popular excursions include Port Hardy, famed for its dense marine-mammal population, and the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, and Georgia Strait.