- 'The Harbour City'
You can find Nanaimo, often referred to as 'The Harbour City,' 111
km (69 miles) north of Victoria on Hwy 1. Nanaimo is situated on
Vancouver Island's east coast directly across from Vancouver.
Across Georgia Strait
If you happen to be on the west side of Vancouver on a clear day,
Nanaimo can be seen looking towards the west across Georgia Strait,
past Vancouver's Point Grey.
Columbia's Coastal History
If you enjoy heritage buildings and old relics from the past, you'll
enjoy Nanaimo. British Columbia's coastal history seems to be everywhere.
When you're out and about take a walknear the Bastion through the
downtown core, especially along Commercial Street or the Old City
Quarter, and relish all the old buildings and businesses.
Another nice place to walk is along Nanaimo's waterfront. The waterfront
walkway takes you along a path that follows the oceanside with views
of Newcastle and Protection Islands past waterfront condominiums,
dockyards, small waterfront cafés, and a pub, eventually
reaching Maffeo-Sutton Park.
After Maffeo-Sutton Park the walkway crosses Millstone River and
joins the Trans-Canada Trail. The Trans-Canada Trail then carries
on to the Departure Bay ferry terminal past various Nanaimo marinas
and waterfront pubs.
The Nanaimo District Museum is also situated on the waterfront in
the heart of Nanaimo; the museum brings history to life with some
excellent depictions of early coastal living on Vancouver Island.
Several displays show the relationships between the Europeans, First
Nations and the Chinese immigrants.
The Nanaimo area is the traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw First
Nation. Translated meaning, "Great and mighty people,"
the Snuneymuxw have lived throughout the area for thousands of years.
This proud heritage is in evidence with various artifacts on display
throughout the community.
Another place you might want to discover is Newcastle Island. There
is a passenger-only ferry that travels between Maffeo-Sutton Park
located downtown and the island. The service is run by Snuneymuxw
First Nation starting in April and runs right through to September.
Island Marine Provincial Park
Once on the island you can walk around and visit Newcastle
Island Marine Provincial Park If you are boating, there are
berthing facilities for up to 50 vessels. The island is beautiful
with access to various private beaches located along the oceanfront.
Across from Newcastle Island towards the south is another island
called Protection Island. You have to take another passenger ferry,
the Protection Connection Ferry that leaves the inner harbour. Once
over you can find walking trails, three parks - Smugglers, Pirates,
and Gallows Point, as well as Smugglers Lake and Beach plus the
Dinghy Dock Pub.
is another great spot to visit and there is a car ferry if you want
to drive over. For a good day trip though, take your bike and enjoy
the quiet country roads that meander around the Island.
Make sure you visit the northern shoreline on Gabriola Island and
experience some great views of BC Ferries from the sandstone shelves
along the ocean's edge. Lots of First Nations art with petroglyphs
can be found everywhere along the coastline.
If you are going south from Nanaimo you can also view some excellent
examples of historic First Nation art at Petroglyph Provincial Park.
The park is located on the old highway 19A while travelling south
Nanaimo is home to two of British Columbia's nicest waterfront hotels,
the Dorchester Hotel and the Coast Bastion Hotel. They're conveniently
located right along the waterfront with an unsurpassed view of the
picturesque Nanaimo Harbour. Everything about Nanaimo is here including
the historic Bastion, built in 1853, the original fort that protected
the early townsfolk.
If you're on Vancouver Island and enjoy gaming, there is a casino
in Nanaimo. Located near the Port Place Shopping Center is Great
Canadian's Nanaimo Casino. For people holidaying at some of the
resorts, there is a shuttle service from Port
Alberni, Qualicum Beach and
Parksville to this casino.
Island Convention Centre
Nanaimo is in the midst of a transformation of part of the downtown
core with the Vancouver Island Convention Centre. This dynamic plan
envisioned by civic and business leaders will change the area around
Commercial Street and towards the waterfront area towards the Nanaimo
Museum and Port Theatre with the addition of a new auditorium, hotel,
condominiums and a new retail sector.
World Championship Bathtub Race
A good time to visit Nanaimo is during the annual International
World Championship Bathtub Race held near the end of July. The 58
km (36 miles) race starts from the Nanaimo harbour, goes around
Entrance Island and ends at Departure Bay beach. The Marine Festival
includes a parade, beer gardens, a street fair, Kiddies Karnival
and Vancouver Island's best fireworks show.
Nanaimo has so much recreation for you to enjoy. Sports such as
world-class scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, golf, hiking and fishing
are present every day of the year. Nanaimo has also developed a
biking/walking trail called the Heritage Walk that encompasses the
whole city taking you past parks and throughout the downtown.
One business area that you'll find really unique is Nanaimo's Old
City Quarter located on Wesley Street. To get here from the waterfront
go up Bastion Street across the bridge, then along Fitzwilliam Street
to Wesley Street. The Old City Quarter is a nice mix of restaurants,
including a Keg restaurant, women's clothing boutiques, shops, unique
galleries and condominiums.
Colliery Provincial Historic Park
If you are going south towards Ladysmith
from Nanaimo, at about 7 km (4.4 miles) is the community of South
Wellington. Once here visit the Morden
Colliery Provincial Historic Park. This is where the Pacific
Coal Company operated in the early 1900's and also the start of
a recreational trail called the Morden Colliery Trail which goes
to the Nanaimo River. To get here you turn east at the Morden Road
traffic light on Hwy 1.
Just south from South Wellington on Hwy 1, 18 km (11 miles) from
Nanaimo is the small community of Cassidy
and the site of WildPlay Nanaimo. For a wild and crazy time you'll
have to experience the 44 metres (143 feet) jump into the Nanaimo
River off the world's only bridge jump.
Holes on the Nanaimo River
If you enjoy swimming holes, the Nanaimo
River has to be rated in one of the world's best category. Just
up from WildPlay Nanaimo on Nanaimo River Road by 3 km (2 miles)
is a great place to get introduced to the river. Beautiful crystal
clear, warm, rocks, deep pools and quite varied, you perhaps want
to visit this place. Please remember some areas are quite dangerous
and have to be respected when attempting to swim or hike into.
You can have a quite a few options on travel modes when coming to
Nanaimo. Most people use the BC Ferries with terminals either at
Duke Point to Tsawwassen
or Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. Bus service can also be arranged
through Greyhound and there are plenty of scheduled flights using
the Nanaimo Harbour with sea plane service or the Nanaimo Airport
North from Nanaimo
Besides travelling south from Nanaimo there are numerous other places
to discover by going north for less than an hour. Try visiting Parksville,
Qualicum Beach for beautiful beaches and rivers, Port Alberni for
fishing and Mount Washington in Courtenay
for fantastic skiing and snowboarding.
Resorts and Campgrounds