Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo has a population of approximately 85,000 and seems to be constantly growing. There are so many things to do here that I don’t think anyone could experience them all in one life.
How to get here:
To get from the mainland, you must travel by ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen. You can take a direct ferry either way and either arrive in Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay or south of town if you arrive from Tsawwassen. Both are acceptable. For more information on the ferry service, visit BC Ferries for current timetables and fares. Nanaimo is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Victoria, on the southernmost tip of the island.
Suggested tour by car or camper
Cross from the mainland from Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver Island and arrive in Nanaimo. From Nanaimo travel south to Ladysmith, an instant city from the past; Duncan, the heart of the Cowichan; Chemainus with its famous murals; and then on to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. Spend time at each location and plan a minimum of three days to cover everything, but preferably a week. Return to the mainland from Sydney and dock in Tsawwassen.
If you have more time, there are other islands you should visit, including Gabriola, Thetis, Galiano, and Saltspring.
There is something for every budget, be it hotels, motels, B & Bs, RV resorts or rugged camping sites ~ there is a lot to choose from in any part of the city.
Certainly where good food can be found in Nanaimo is a high priority for most people including myself. Most popular is the Sea Food because Nanaimo is on the water, but there are so many specialty restaurants to choose from, choosing will be difficult. Sushi bars, Greek, Italian and Indian cuisine are all available, as well as my favorite Mexican restaurant ~ Gina’s. Most chain restaurants are represented, so getting a Big Mac and a good cup of coffee at one of the coffee bars is easy. Pubs are located in most parts of the city and offer a really good selection of pub meals.
Things to do
Nanaimo and Vancouver Island are a leisure paradise with so many things to do, from kayaking, world-famous diving, unlimited hiking, deep-sea fishing, fantastic skiing, to golfing or river rafting almost all year round. You can even jump bungy!
It’s not far to spot whales, view wildlife or visit some of the area’s historic and cultural attractions. Tourism BC is a great resource for information all over British Columbia.