Incorporated in 1942, Qualicum Beach is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island
, 48 km (30 miles) north of Nanaimo
. With a population of 7,000 (24,000 in the area), it is primarily a tourism and retirement locale. Qualicum Beach has long been popular as a seaside haven, equaling more tropical "paradises". Its miles of white sandy beaches slope gently to the water's edge, and provide safe swimming, even for the very young. At low tide you can dig for clams, pick oysters (shellfish harvesting requires a special licence and is restricted to certain areas) and collect sand dollars. The floral displays are unsurpassed. Because the seasons change gently, outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round.