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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

THE Beach Club Resort
THE Beach Club Resort
3.5 out of 5
181 Beachside Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is CA $189 per night from May 14 to May 14
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! (826 reviews)
"Loved the proximity to the beach which was stunning"

Reviewed on May 7, 2021

THE Beach Club Resort
Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
2.5 out of 5
809 Island Hwy S, Nanaimo, BC
The price is CA $111 per night from May 23 to May 23
Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Nanaimo Museum, Bastion, and Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park. Vancouver Island University ...
3.8/5Good! (986 reviews)
"J"

Reviewed on May 2, 2021

Days Inn by Wyndham Nanaimo
Coast Bastion Hotel
Coast Bastion Hotel
3.5 out of 5
11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC
The price is CA $146 per night from May 19 to May 19
Located in the heart 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 Museum ...
4.4/5Excellent! (981 reviews)
"This was very central to all I needed downtown Nanaimo We had a wonderful water view over the marina"

Reviewed on Apr. 30, 2021

Coast Bastion Hotel
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.
Ocean Sands Resort
Ocean Sands Resort
3 out of 5
1165-Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
The price is CA $169 per night from May 15 to May 15
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! (255 reviews)
"Beautiful ocean front view and easy access to the beach."

Reviewed on Dec. 30, 2020

Ocean Sands Resort
Oceanside Village Resort
Oceanside Village Resort
4 out of 5
1080 Resort Drive, Parksville, BC
This family-friendly Parksville vacation home is located near the beach, within a 15-minute walk of Riptide Lagoon Adventure Golf and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial ...
4.6/5Exceptional! (184 reviews)
"Beautiful and quiet cabin. Convenient location. Excellent for the price."

Reviewed on Aug. 24, 2020

Oceanside Village Resort
Two Bedroom Deluxe Cabin
Two Bedroom Deluxe Cabin
Qualicum Beach, BC
The price is CA $219 per night from May 14 to May 14
Situated in Qualicum Beach, this cabin is within 3 mi (5 km) of Qualicum Beach Museum, Qualicum Beach Visitor Centre, and Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club. ...
3/5 (2 reviews)
Trailer park /motel
"More trailer park /motel than resort. 2 stars."

Reviewed on Aug. 15, 2019

Two Bedroom Deluxe Cabin
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

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
178
5 - Excellent 25.64841498559078%
4 - Good
376
4 - Good 54.178674351585016%
3 - Okay
119
3 - Okay 17.146974063400577%
2 - Disappointing
17
2 - Disappointing 2.4495677233429394%
1 - Terrible
4
1 - Terrible 0.5763688760806917%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Mar 25, 2020

We visited when the Corona virus issue was just becoming serious...so we didn't get to shop or visit any tourist destinations but we did see many parks and beaches that were just gorgeous

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Mar 23, 2020

Neck Point Park was very beautiful. A great many trails to walk

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Mar 15, 2020

When in Nanaimo, we like to stop at Hearthstone Artisan Bakery for an unbeatable Nanaimo Bar treat! This time we bought classic, peanut butter and Irish cream. Judges were tied -- all three choices were delicious!

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveller

Mar 2, 2020

Drove through the town so no comments

4/5 - Good

Tia

Feb 27, 2020

Nice small town

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Feb 23, 2020

Nice place

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