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NanaimoCanada

Take a ferry to one of British Columbia’s oldest cities and enjoy its cosmopolitan mix of a college town, a waterfront resort and an old mining boomtown.

Nanaimo is Vancouver Island’s second-largest city and a convenient access point for the island’s natural landscape. Located on the east coast, Nanaimo is nestled between island’s mountainous interior and the scenic Strait of Georgia. Explore Nanaimo to experience a perfect balance of Vancouver Island’s history, local culture and beautiful scenery.

Stroll along the Harbourfront Walkway to see the lively city center crowded around Nanaimo’s port. Here, alongside seafood restaurants and delightful teashops, you will find the Bastion, one of the last remaining outposts of the Hudson Bay Company. Visit this mid-19th-century tower at noon to hear the midday cannon. Browse the intriguing exhibits in the nearby Nanaimo Museum to learn about the city’s history as a coal mining boomtown.

Enjoy one of the mildest climates in Canada and swim at Nanaimo’s picturesque beaches. Try diving off the island’s coast and see beautiful multihued reefs growing around the wreck sites of three ships. Spot octopus, sea lions and eels in the clear waters.

Take a passenger ferry to one of the islands around Nanaimo Harbor. Newcastle Island is a small wooded landmass only a 10-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo. Wander the beaches, check out the tide pools at low tide and try local seafood at the island’s bistro. The larger Gabriola Island, known as the “Isle of the Arts,” is a great place to explore Nanaimo’s artisan culture. Tour the small galleries and buy souvenirs at a boutique.

Head inland from Nanaimo to discover the impressive mountains and valleys of Vancouver Island’s interior. Take a wine-tasting tour of the Cowichan Valley south of the city. Explore the forested trails of the western mountains, crowned by Mount Bastion. Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a favorite destination due to its beautiful waterfalls among wooded canyons.

Nanaimo is located 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia. Reach Vancouver Island by ferry or plane and make this scenic mining town your first stop.

Where to stay in Nanaimo

Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo

4.5/5Wonderful!(124 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Regional District of Nanaimo, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park and Parksville Beach are top sights worth seeing.

Regional District of Nanaimo
Watching the ferries coming in and going out from the beach at Departure Bay.

Departure Bay

While visiting Departure Bay, you might make a stop by sights like Departure Bay Ferry Terminal and Departure Bay Beach.

Departure Bay
#Blue Heron soaking up the Cedar sunshine. Traipse down to the boat launch during low tide, and find yourself some oysters!

Yellow Point

While Yellow Point isn't home to many top sights, Ladysmith Marina and Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery are some notable places to visit nearby.

Yellow Point
Lunch stop while sea kayaking in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. One of my favorite places to have lunch!

Beachcomber

While Beachcomber isn't home to many top sights, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park and Qualicum National Wildlife Area are some notable places to visit nearby.

Beachcomber
Snake shower at Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo.

Stephenson Point

Though Stephenson Point might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Departure Bay Ferry Terminal and Pipers Lagoon Park.

Stephenson Point

Top Hotels in Nanaimo

THE Beach Club Resort
THE Beach Club Resort
3.5 out of 5
181 Beachside Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥15,078 per night from Oct 27 to Oct 28

Located in Regional District of Nanaimo, this romantic hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Vancouver Island University Parksville Campus and Parksville Beach. Rathtrevor ...

4.3/5Excellent! (760 reviews)

"was awesome, great room, great view, and the weather was nice. will go back."…"

Reviewed on Oct 22, 2020

THE Beach Club Resort
Coast Bastion Hotel
Coast Bastion Hotel
3.5 out of 5
11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC
The price is ¥10,555 per night from Oct 27 to Oct 28

Located in Regional District of Nanaimo, this eco-friendly hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Bastion and 2.2 mi (3.6 km) from Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. Nanaimo ...

4.4/5Excellent! (954 reviews)

"The view was great, balcony was a bit smaller than I expected, but you could still go out and get some ocean air! The bathroom was fabulous! Huge and clean!"…"

Reviewed on Oct 24, 2020

Coast Bastion Hotel
Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
2.5 out of 5
809 Island Hwy S, Nanaimo, BC
The price is ¥9,154 per night from Oct 30 to Oct 31

Located in Regional District of Nanaimo, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Nanaimo Museum, Bastion, and Protection Island. Newcastle Island Marine Provincial ...

3.8/5Good! (960 reviews)

"Good. The front desk was kind and nice. I was surprised with the deposit money for any broken things during your stay. Otherwise i love our one night stay.😉😊"…"

Reviewed on Oct 13, 2020

Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Vacation Rentals in Nanaimo

Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
3 out of 5
1175 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥10,291 per night from Oct 27 to Oct 28

Located in Regional District of Nanaimo, this condo building is within a 10-minute walk of Parksville Visitor Centre and Craig Heritage Park and Museum. Riptide ...

3.9/5Very Good! (255 reviews)

"The location was beautiful Very close to the ocean"…"

Reviewed on Oct 17, 2020

Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Ocean Sands Resort
Ocean Sands Resort
3 out of 5
1165-Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥11,887 per night from Oct 27 to Oct 28

Located in Regional District of Nanaimo, this beachfront condo building is in a provincial park and within 1 mi (2 km) of Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf and Rathtrevor ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (242 reviews)

"Beautiful view. Hosts are so helpful. Very peaceful here!"…"

Reviewed on Oct 6, 2020

Ocean Sands Resort
Shorewater Resort
Shorewater Resort
3 out of 5
3295 Island Hwy. West, Qualicum Beach, BC
The price is ¥8,544 per night from Nov 1 to Nov 2

Offering direct access to the beach, this Regional District of Nanaimo condo building is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from Heritage Forest and within 9 mi (15 km) of Eaglecrest ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (171 reviews)

"Great location on the beach, clean and everything that you need. We had two grandkids with us and each had their own bed, so they were happy. Easy check in and out."…"

Reviewed on Aug 19, 2020

Shorewater Resort
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Nanaimo

Parksville Beach
Image for Parksville Beach

Parksville Beach

4.5/5(28 reviews)

Nothing says vacation like spending a lazy day at Parksville Beach, a popular beach in Parksville. Take in the art scene and mountain views in the area.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Image for Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

4.5/5(11 reviews)

Pitch your tent at this idyllic camping spot and spend your vacation exploring dense fir forests, sandy beaches and sparkling waters perfect for swimming.

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park
Image for Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

4.5/5(2 reviews)

Beneath the crystalline water of a lake lies this network of caverns where adventurous visitors can bravely go on long trips underground.

MacMillan Provincial Park
Image for MacMillan Provincial Park

MacMillan Provincial Park

4.5/5(5 reviews)

Mighty, ancient trees cover this Vancouver Island park, which offers walking trails, open-water swimming and the chance to spot wildlife.

Harbour Quay
Image for Harbour Quay

Harbour Quay

4/5(4 reviews)

Explore the waterfront in Port Alberni with a trip to Harbour Quay. While you're in the area, stroll along the waterfront.

Hole In The Wall
Image for Hole In The Wall

Hole In The Wall

4/5(1 review)

Commune with nature and explore the great outdoors at Hole In The Wall during your travels in Port Alberni. While you're in the area, stroll along the waterfront.

Top things to do in Nanaimo

Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Semi-Covered boat
Image for Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Semi-Covered boat

Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Semi-Covered boat

¥14,230
Per adult
Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Open boat
Image for Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Open boat

Whale Watching from Nanaimo - Open boat

¥13,592
Per adult
WildPlay Nanaimo's River Bungy Jump
Image for WildPlay Nanaimo's River Bungy Jump

WildPlay Nanaimo's River Bungy Jump

¥12,380
Per adult
WildPlay Nanaimo's Primal Swing
Image for WildPlay Nanaimo's Primal Swing

WildPlay Nanaimo's Primal Swing

¥8,734
Per adult
WildPlay Nanaimo's Zipline Tour
Image for WildPlay Nanaimo's Zipline Tour

WildPlay Nanaimo's Zipline Tour

¥2,501
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
Local Food, Craft Beverage and Estate Winery Tour of Cowichan Valley
Image for Local Food, Craft Beverage and Estate Winery Tour of Cowichan Valley

Local Food, Craft Beverage and Estate Winery Tour of Cowichan Valley

¥12,395
Per adult

Reviews of Nanaimo

4.2

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
23
5 - Excellent 39.6551724137931%
4 - Good
26
4 - Good 44.827586206896555%
3 - Okay
8
3 - Okay 13.793103448275861%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
1
1 - Terrible 1.7241379310344827%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Sep 28, 2019

I've always liked the waterfront development.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Sep 3, 2019

I am biased. It is my hometown and my whole family live here.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Aug 31, 2019

Found an awesome night hangout— The Cactus Club.

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Aug 17, 2019

It is a fun seaport with waterfront walks, dining and a good vibe

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Aug 10, 2019

Beautiful town with sweet people!

4/5 - Good

DP

Jul 30, 2019

We really enjoyed the waterfront. Good restaurants and pleasant to walk around.

Cities near Nanaimo

Port Alberni showing a park and a river or creek

Port Alberni

Parksville featuring signage

Parksville

Photo by Geoff Stephen

Ladysmith

Photo by Geoff Stephen

Chemainus