There is a transit system in Nanaimo, but it is not particularly convenient for getting around much of the city. If you plan on using it, make sure you know the schedule otherwise you can spend a long time waiting at a bus stop. If arranged ahead of time, cars can be rented at the downtown harbour, Departure Bay ferry terminal or the Nanaimo airport.
Nanaimo is a hub city for the island, as such it provides good access to a number of locations on the island. It is about a 3 hour drive to Tofino and Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park. North of Nanaimo is Campbell River and Port Hardy. Coombs offers some wonderful rustic and exotic shopping and this is where you find the goats on the roof. It's a favorite spot for locals and an excellent stop for tourists. It's about a 30 minute drive from Nanaimo.
Nanaimo is the largest city that can be easily accessed by most of Vancouver Island. As leaving the Island to do shopping is expensive and time consuming, Nanaimo has become the shopping center for Vancouver Island. According to a 1990 Time Magazine article, it has more square meters of retail space per capita than any other city in North America. Much of this shopping is in the large number of malls and big box retailers on the outskirts of the City. However, most of the interesting shops are in the downtown core.
• Most travellers to Nanaimo will arrive from Vancouver. BC Ferries operates car ferries to Nanaimo from Tsawwassen (South of Vancouver) to Duke Point in Nanaimo, and from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. These ferries run about every 2 hours. The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes long. It costs about $35 for a car and $10 per person (more in peak season, less in low season) each way for the ferry. Reservations are never required, but recommended for vehicles during peak travel times. There is a $15 charge for reservations.
• The Departure Bay ferry terminal is served by Nanaimo Regional Transit to Nanaimo. Greyhound (Phone: 1-800-661-8747) operates a coach service from Vancouver that goes on the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay Ferry. The cost is $22 plus ferry fare and is timed to meet every ferry departure.
• HarbourLynx Express (Phone: 1-866-206-5969)operates a fast ferry passenger only service from downtown Vancouver to Downtown Nanaimo. This sails 3 times a day and costs $25 each way.
• Baxter Aviation and Harbour Air operate float plane service from downtown Vancouver into Downtown Nanaimo. Baxter Aviation fly's the De Havilland Beaver while Harbour Air operates the De Havilland Otter. Both of these service operate about hourly from about 7:00am to 6:00pm. The cost is about $55. These are small planes heavily used by business travellers so reservations are recommended.
• Air Canada Jazz operates air service from the Vancouver airport to the Nanaimo airport. The cost to add this onto a Air Canada flight into Vancouver is often minimal. The Nanaimo airport is quite a ways out of Nanaimo.
• Travellers may also come to Nanaimo from Victoria. It is about a 2 hour drive from Victoria.
• Vancouver Island Coach Lines operates a coach service from Downtown Victoria to Downtown Nanaimo.
• VIA operates a daily passenger service from Victoria to Courtenay with a stop in Nanaimo the cost for Victoria to Nanaimo is $23.
• Harbour Living.ca - Nanaimo's Premiere Events Resource. Find out everything that's happening in and around Nanaimo at
• Bathtub Racing - An annual race of bathtubs that have been converted into boats and race through the harbour of Nanaimo.
• Swy-a-lana Lagoon Park Swy-a-lana is a saltwater lagoon that makes use of the tide's natural ebb and flow, creating a home for marine life. An arched foot bridge crosses the lagoon, leading to Maffeo Sutton Park, where you'll find basketball courts, a skateboard park, a sandlot playground, a fishing pier, picnic tables, benches and grass fields. Both Swy-a-lana and Maffee Sutton Parks offer commanding views of the waterfront, Gulf Islands, and coastal mountains.
• Nanaimo seawall -- a pedestrian walkway that winds along the waterfront from Cameron Island to the Nanaimo Yacht Club. Visitors especially enjoy the section of the seawall near the Bastion, where craft shops and restaurants dot the path.
• The Bastion -- the oldest free-standing Hudson's Bay Company fort in North America. The Bastion is operated by the Nanaimo Museum. By donation ($2 recommended).
• Pioneer Plaza -- at the foot of Bastion Street, you'll find markers for a self-guided walking tour of the downtown core.
• Nanaimo Museum -- see breath-taking views, visit a model coal mine, observe ancient petroglyphs,
• Bungy Jumping at the Bungy Zone . (About 10km south of town)Summer Hours M-F 11:30am-6:00pm, Sa-Su 11:30am-7:00pm. North America's first and many say best permanent legal bungy jumping site. $60-$100.
• Gina's Restaurant, 47 Skinner Street (Phone: 250-753-5411) is a Mexican restaurant in a bright pink building on the hill in downtown Nanaimo. Excellent food $10-15 for an entree.
• A number of good inexpensive Vietnamese restaurants are in Nanaimo. And a fine Vietnamese sandwich shop is a block away from Malaspina College.
• Acme is a more modern restaurant lots of fun and awesome food!
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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