Nanaimo is a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is the island’s second largest city and home to the island’s second biggest harbour. It is the central hub city of Vancouver Island and been referred to as the “Bathtub Racing Capital of the World”, “Harbour City”, and previously, the “Hub City”, due to its central location on Vancouver Island. From being an industrial town, Nanaimo became a tourist city popular with tourists and retirees from other parts of Canada. It also had a succession of four Chinatowns, the first one founded during the 1860s and was the third largest in British Columbia; the second in 1884, when the Dunsmuir coal company moved its Chinese employees to a location outside city limits; the third in 1908, when two Chinese entrepreneurs, along with 4,000 shareholders from across Canada, combined forces to buy the site for a third Chinatown in a new location, but it burned down in 1960; and the fourth one, also called Lower Chinatown or "new town", at Machleary Street. Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the northern part of the island and off its coast, due to its location as the primary ferry terminal.
Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park has a 22km hiking and biking trails, perfect for some exciting outdoor activities. It also has a beach, regular First Nations dancing displays, and areas perfect for wildlife spotting. Visit The Old City Quarter, a heritage neighbourhood of independent stores, galleries, and eateries in brightly painted old buildings. Learn more about the city’s history and heritage at Nanaimo Museum, which features a Coast Salish focus and a walk-through evocation of a coal mine. Wild Play Element Parks promises a fun and thrilling experience for both kids and adults. This tree-lined adventure playground offers bungee-jumping, zip-lining, obstacle courses, trekking, volleyball games, and more. There’s also Swy-a-lana Lagoon Park, a saltwater lagoon and home to a diverse marine life. Just head to the Maffeo Sutton Park across the lagoon, where there’s a sandlot playground, a fishing pier, picnic tables, benches, and grass fields. It also has spectacular views of the waterfront, Gulf Islands, and coastal mountains. Go and see The Bastion, North America’s oldest free-standing Hudson's Bay Company fort.
How to get around within Nanaimo
Although the city has its own transit system, it’s not very convenient so it’s highly recommended to know about the schedule first beforehand to avoid wasting time waiting at bus stops, unsure when you can get on a bus. You can also rent a car in downtown harbour, Departure Bay ferry terminal, or at the Nanaimo airport. Nanaimo Regional Transit provides bus service in the city.
How to get there
There are three airports in the city: Nanaimo Airport, which serves Vancouver; Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport, which has flights to Vancouver harbour and Vancouver Airport; and Nanaimo/Long Lake Water Airport. Visitors can also get in via one of the three BC Ferry terminals which are located at Departure Bay, Duke Point, and downtown. Float plane operators Baxter Aviation and Harbour Air also offer services from downtown Vancouver into Downtown Nanaimo. For those who are coming from Victoria, you can drive to the city in an hour and a half. Vancouver Island Coach Lines operates a coach service from Downtown Victoria to Downtown Nanaimo.