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Nanaimo
Travel Guide

Port Alberni featuring a marina

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

Bayside Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection
Bayside Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection
3 out of 5
240 Dogwood St, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥11,056 per night from Apr 22 to Apr 23
Located in the heart of Parksville, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paradise Fun Park and Parksville Beach. Vancouver Island University Parksville ...
3.9/5Very Good! (683 reviews)
"Beautiful ocean views. Very comfortable bed and pillows. Clean and comfortable."

Reviewed on Apr 12, 2021

Bayside Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection
THE Beach Club Resort
THE Beach Club Resort
3.5 out of 5
181 Beachside Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥16,199 per night from Apr 22 to Apr 23
Situated on the boardwalk, this romantic hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Vancouver Island University Parksville Campus and Parksville Beach. Rathtrevor Beach ...
4.3/5Excellent! (821 reviews)
"Views of beach were great . Staff was very friendly"

Reviewed on Mar 31, 2021

THE Beach Club Resort
Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort
Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort
3.5 out of 5
1155 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥12,601 per night from Apr 29 to Apr 30
Offering direct access to the beach, this Parksville resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Rathtrevor Beach and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. Parksville Beach ...
4.2/5Very Good! (899 reviews)
"Loved the setting amenities and proximity to beach and town."

Reviewed on Apr 15, 2021

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa 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.
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
3 out of 5
1175 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥11,913 per night from Apr 26 to Apr 27
Situated by the ocean, this condo resort is within a 10-minute walk of Parksville Visitor Centre and Craig Heritage Park and Museum. Riptide Lagoon Adventure ...
4/5Very Good! (285 reviews)
Great Location
"Other than no HD TV and questionable pillows, it was a great stay. Location is excellent."

Reviewed on Apr 10, 2021

Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort
Ocean Sands Resort
Ocean Sands Resort
3 out of 5
1165-Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is ¥14,484 per night from Apr 24 to Apr 25
Located in Parksville, this beachfront condo building is in a provincial park and within 1 mi (2 km) of Rathtrevor Beach and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (254 reviews)
"Beautiful ocean front view and easy access to the beach."

Reviewed on Dec 30, 2020

Ocean Sands Resort
Oceanfront Guest Suite in Trendy Hotel Style Condo
Oceanfront Guest Suite in Trendy Hotel Style Condo
Nanaimo, BC
The price is ¥5,914 per night from Apr 24 to Apr 25
Situated in Nanaimo, this condo building is 0.8 mi (1.4 km) from Bastion and 2 mi (3.2 km) from Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. Nanaimo Museum and Nanaimo Regional ...
Oceanfront Guest Suite in Trendy Hotel Style Condo
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

Top things to do in Nanaimo

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.

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