Amberwood on the River

The Mission. The Accommodations. The Promise.
13 years of Excellent Service
Amberwood on the River Bed and Breakfast is located on 3.2 acres in the countryside just south of Nanaimo.  We are 5 minutes from the Nanaimo Airport and 15 minutes from the Duke Point Ferry, downtown Nanaimo and Ladysmith.  We are also 10 to 15 minutes from several golf courses.  The business was established in 2004 on the neighbouring property (we owned 2 acreages side by side) and we sold the "other" parcel and kept the one with the beautiful Nanaimo River access!   Hence the River House was born!
The Main Mission: This thriving business is to help people relax and enjoy themselves whilst they are on the property. For those seeking to have the place all for themselves, the River House offers a secluded one-bedroom cottage down by the river. The owners motto is "your privacy is our priority" and our attention to detail means you will have everything you need for a relaxing stay.

Accommodations: Since it is a bed and breakfast accommodation, breakfast supplies, including essentially whatever you would like, are provided for the first one or 2 nights.  You can request good old bacon and farm fresh eggs or yummy homemade granola, with fruit and yogurt  - most guests leave with the recipe!  Guests can make their own breakfast at their leisure in the full kitchen - icemaker fridge, dishwasher, pots and pans, coffee and coffee maker etc.  Many  condiments are also provided.  

Amberwood on the River is proud of a few things in their facility. One of them is the amazing Nanaimo River access - swimming in the river for the "young at heart".  There are 123 stairs to get there, but after making your way down the cedar steps and landings and over the rock pathway to the river's edge, you can swim in deep pools of crystal clear water.  Bring river shoes if you have them! 
Apart from that, they also boast of providing everything you might need - attention to detail is the key!  If you can't find something, just ask!  And you may want to feed the trout in the trout pond - if Ron is around you can even catch and release one!  They're getting big....

The Promise: Once you are in this vacation home rental near Ladysmith, BC, the owners guarantee that you will always want to come back. Most  guests are return customers, and often say they wish they'd booked a longer stay.  Guests tend to treat the River House as their home away from home and why not, right?
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Activities or

Activities on Our Property
If you love swimming, there is no better way to spend a hot summer day than down at the river - all our guests agree it's the best swimming hole they've been to. Once you make it down the 123 cedar stairs and landings (yes, 123!) you can choose to sit on a beach beside a huge deep pool, or on the rocks by a bit of current that will take you via deep pools through a canyon. It's quiet, private and absolutely gorgeous - crisp, clean water that is surprisingly warm - more like the temperature of a lake than a river. Bring river shoes if you have them!

Our favorite thing to do each summer is a river float - it takes about an hour and a half, and is a lazy float, in inner tubes or an inflatable boat, down the river. Near the end, you can float in the water and watch jumpers at the Bungy Zone, then carry on to a spot by the highway where we can pick you up (as long as advance arrangements are made). 

Located halfway between Nanaimo and Ladysmith - 10 minutes, either way - Amberwood is in an ideal location for many activities in the mid-Vancouver Island area.  Lakes, the ocean, and the Gulf Islands are all nearby, and for business travelers, we are close to the Trans Canada Highway, ferries and the Nanaimo airport.

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There are a variety of great local courses to choose from - that's why we live on the West Coast!  There are 19 courses within an hour's drive of Nanaimo, and 3 courses are within 10 minutes of Amberwood on the River B&B:

Cottonwood Golf Course: an 18 hole par 72 public course (3 minutes away).

Eagle Quest at Fiddlers Green: a 9 hole public course (5 minutes away).

Ladysmith Golf Club: a 9 hole public course and driving range (10 minutes away).

WildPlay Element Park  (Bungy Zone) (5 minutes away)
For the ultimate adrenalin rush come to the world-famous WildPlay Element Park, formerly called the "Bungy Zone".  You can bungy jump from North America's first legal custom made bungy jumping bridge over the Nanaimo River, or, hit radical speeds on the Prima Swing, or, ride the high-speed zip line through the river canyon.  These are adrenalin pumping, heart thumping high-speed thrills - it's even a thrill to watch if you don't want to jump yourself!  You might also want to try the Monkido Aerial Adventure  - discover the lost art of monkeying-around as you conquer climbing nets, fly across zip lines, balance on wobbly bridges, and take a Tarzan swing.

There are many small lakes close to Amberwood with trout and smallmouth bass.  Your hosts at Amberwood can point you in the right direction and even take you fishing for an afternoon if the timing is right - Ron is an avid fisherman and would love an excuse to go!

Kayaking  (10 minutes away)
Kayaks can be rented during the summer months at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith.  You can sign up for a beach day tour, a full moon paddle, or lessons.

Walks / Hiking / Cycling

Roberts Memorial Provincial Park (10 minutes away) This park offers a small day-use area on the beach overlooking scenic Stewart Channel - an ideal spot for a quiet afternoon picnic. An easy 1 kilometer (.6 mile) trail through the mature forest leads to the sandstone beach, which offers good opportunities for wildlife viewing. From here, visitors can often see California sea lions, who haul out to bask in the sun on the park's unique sandstone ledges during the summer months. Great Blue herons, Bald eagles and a variety of seabirds can also be spotted in the park.

Jack/Point Biggs Park (10 minutes away)  Visit this park by following the signs to the Duke Point Ferry Terminal. This is a nice walk on 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of the trail (about 1 hour) that will take you along the ocean out to a point with amazing views of Nanaimo. The first 10 minutes is a bit noisy because it parallels the highway to the Duke Point Ferry and a lumberyard, but once you pass those it's amazing how quiet and forest like it is. 

Parkway Trail (10 minutes away) The Parkway Trail is the backbone of Nanaimo's trail system.  It links Auld's Road in the north to Chase River in the south.  The 20 kilometer (12.4 miles) paved and tree-lined corridor provides a recreational playground where cyclists and pedestrians can move safely throughout the community away from vehicle traffic.

Cable Bay Trail  (15 minutes away) This walk is one of Tess & Bella's favorites!   A 1.9 kilometer (1.2 miles) trail; this is one of Nanaimo's best-kept secrets.   A forest of alders, maples, firs, cedars and western hemlock tower overhead yet give the trail a quiet serenity.   A 30-minute hike leads to Cable Bay Bridge.   Hikers can observe migrating sea lions, enjoy a picnic, an afternoon of beachcombing or walk the dog, as this area is also an off-leash park.

The Town of Ladysmith Trail Guide   (10 minutes away) The Town of Ladysmith has a developed a guide (available from your hosts at Amberwood) identifying hiking trails in the area.   The guide includes maps, directions to get there, on and off-leash areas for dogs, and trails suitable for mountain biking.


Ladysmith Festival of Lights
Last Thursday in November

Kick off the Christmas season with the Christmas Light Festival in beautiful historic Ladysmith!   This special evening attracts visitors from all over Vancouver Island and the lower mainland (16,000+).   Volunteers cover the main street, rooftops, and buildings with over 100,000 twinkling Christmas lights, which are all lit up at once.   Festival Night includes a community dinner, entertainment, fireworks, visit from Santa, souvenirs and the Kinsmen Parade.   Santa leads the countdown to turn on all the lights at 6:30 p.m.  

Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival
July 4th - 6th, 2014

Held on the Nanaimo harbor at Maffeo Sutton Park and Pioneer Plaza, the Dragon Boat Festival draws approximately 20,000 people to paddle, help out or cheer on the teams.   Anywhere from 40 to 60 teams, each comprised of 20 athletes plus a drummer and the person who steers the 60-foot long vessel, work together in these Hong Kong-style dragon boats (ordained with a dragon head and tail).   The teams vigorously compete to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.

Nanaimo Bathtub Races
4th Weekend in July

The world's cleanest sport!   Nanaimo is famous for bathtub races, believe it or not.   The "Great" RACE starts in Nanaimo harbor and ends at Departure Bay beach. The course (36 miles) leave Nanaimo harbor around Entrance Island up to and around Winchelsea Island past Schooner cove and back to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. The bathtub race starts on Sunday, at 11:00 and it takes tubners approximately an hour and a half.   For 40 years contestants have taken on the elements in the Georgia Strait being battered in bathtubs with six-stroke engines and fancy paint jobs in a grueling 50-kilometer race.  Tubners come from as far away as Australia to compete. 

Parksville Sandsculpting Competition 
July 12th to 17th, 2014

Spend a day at the beautiful Rathtrevor beach, marveling at these amazing sand sculptures - they can't really be called sandcastles because you won't believe what people can build out of the sand.   This world-class competition draws sculptors and visitors from all over the globe, and the festival offers entertainment, food, and fun for the kids.   The sculptors have 24 hours over 3 days - it's best to go on Sunday to view the final entries. The sculptures remain in place for three weeks following the competition, and admission to the venue is by donation.

Ladysmith Arts on the Avenue
Sunday, August 25th, 2013
From 10 am to 4 pm come and visit the annual Arts on the Avenue.   Admission is free.   The main street of Ladysmith is blocked off and filled with local artisans selling everything from pottery and paintings to beautiful wood carvings. There are live music, artist demos, and a kids art area.   You can stroll through all the tables of "cool" stuff and pick up something unique and special.   We go every year and always come back with some wonderful trinkets!

Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Tour  (5 minutes away)
Christmas Tour: November 21st to 24th, 2013

The artisans in the Cedar & Yellowpoint areas have created a Touring Map (available on their website or from your hosts at Amberwood) making it easy to visit their studios, shops, and farms during the spring/summer or for their Christmas tour. Enjoy their latest creations - there is everything from herbs and garden art, to pottery, blown glass and cedar products. A perfect way to make a dent in your Christmas shopping! 


Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park
You'll know you've reached this park because massive trees suddenly create an awesome green roof across the road. Cathedral Grove is a preserved stand of old-growth forest which is at least 800 years old, if not older.   Trails are dotted with interpretive signs explaining what you see.   It's difficult to describe these forest giants but maybe one dimension will bring it home: the largest tree in the grove measures over 30 feet around.

Coombs Old Country Market
The market is well known for the family of goats that nimbly graze on its grass roof.   You can buy local produce, preserves and bread, have an ice cream cone with an abundance of flavors or have a fabulous, wholesome lunch at the self-serve cafe.   

Englishman River Falls
Trails lead to waterfalls and inviting pools in this, Vancouver Island's oldest provincial park.   The forest species of flora and fauna keep naturalists intrigued and there are a number of good fishing spots here.   Be sure to check the British Columbia fishing regulations before you start, though.

Gabriola Island
A twenty-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo harbor takes you to Gabriola Island where forested parks, quiet beaches, sensational ocean views and amazing sandstone formations await you. During the summer months visit the busy Farmers Market every Saturday and Wednesday and enjoy fresh island produce, baked goods and crafts.  Gabriola Island is called the Isle of the Arts because you can visit many artist's studios, galleries, and delightful shops.   A cycling ride around Gabriola is lengthy - the island is about 12 miles (20 km) long - but touches on a variety of good beaches, including Gabriola Sands, Sandwell and Drumbeg Provincial Parks, roadside picnic tables at Brickyard Beach, and the sheltered enclave at Silva Bay, a popular stopover for marine traffic in summer and a good place to wet your whistle.   The island is served by a challenging nine-hole golf course overlooking Hoggan Lake. Gabriola Island Golf & Country Club offers a full-service clubhouse that always welcomes non-members.

Little Qualicum River Falls
A system of bridges across the river offers great views of the falls in this provincial park.   You can hike beside the river and stop for a picnic at a number of scenic spots. It's an invigorating place to go at any time of year.

Rathtrevor Beach, Parksville
This provincial park has one of the greatest beaches on Vancouver Island as well as an excellent programme of interpretive nature walks. It's a birdwatcher's delight, especially in the spring months when thousands of brant geese stop on their annual migration.   There is a spectacular sand sculpting competition in July. 


Drive south from Amberwood to Chemainus (20 minutes), called "The Little Town that Did".  This small town is famous for its murals, painted on the outside of many buildings, and it's theatre. Go for lunch and a visit the many unique little shops.

Salt Spring Island
Drive south from Amberwood to Crofton (30 minutes) and take a 20-minute ferry through the Straight of Georgia to Salt Spring Island - there are lots to do.  Hiking, beachcombing, kayaking, fishing, and golf are among the more popular outdoor activities.  Artists, farmers, chefs, romantics, retirees, and dreamers have been drawn to this island and, renowned for its creativity, Salt Spring is known as a small arts mecca.  Shops, galleries, and artists' studios offer a wide choice of high-quality arts and crafts from paintings to pottery and weaving to woodwork.  The seaside village of Ganges is a focal point for arts, restaurants and unique shops.  On Saturdays, from April to October, visit "Salt Spring Island's Saturday Market" - a fabulous artisan craft fair in the town square that features many of the local arts and crafts.  The market philosophy is "Make it, Bake it, Grow it" and with an ever-changing line-up of vendors, it is always unique. 


Hill's Native Art
With five outlets in British Columbia (including nearby Duncan and Nanaimo), Hill's Native Art has acquired the largest and most varied collection of First Nations and Inuit arts and crafts.   Hill's has caught worldwide attention as the largest Northwest Coast Native Art Gallery in North America and has exhibited hundreds of works by emerging and internationally renowned artists.   At any given time, Hill's features over 1200 Native artists and represents every Tribe and Nation of the Northwest Coast.

Woodgrove Centre (20 minutes away)
With more than 150 stores and services, Woodgrove Centre is the largest shopping mall in central Vancouver Island. Featuring the Bay, Wal-Mart, Winners, Chapters, Toys R Us, Sport Check, Pier 1 Imports, White Spot and much more, there's something for everyone.


Menus and explicit driving instructions are available from your hosts at Amberwood.

Crow and Gate Pub (10 minutes from Amberwood)
Voted the best Pub food on Vancouver Island (by Times-Colonist newspaper readers), the Crow & Gate is a real English pub in a country setting, with the baron of beefs, burgers, ploughman's plates, great salads and fabulous home-made desserts.  Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 10 pm.  Fast service, and reasonable prices.  During the summer, eat outside at picnic tables with resident ducks wandering around.  During the winter eat inside by the fireplace.

Gina's Mexican Cafe (15 minutes from Amberwood)
An authentic Mexican restaurant in downtown Nanaimo - you will be full when you leave!  Great margaritas - not too strong - and you must try the halibut ceviche appetizer. Fast service, and very reasonable prices.

Mahle House Restaurant (10 minutes from Amberwood)
The Mahle House offers fine dining in the country. An excellent choice for a special occasion - check out the menu on their website.  Open from Wednesday to Sunday for dinner only, their menu changes weekly to take advantage of the freshest local produce.  Highly recommended!

The Bold Knight (5 minutes from Amberwood)
Excellent steak and seafood house with a huge menu - if you have the New York steak "Oscar" style, we guarantee you'll still be thinking about it the next day!
Excellent service (friendly and attentive servers), a bit pricey but well worth it for a special occasion.