Travel Guide North America Canada British Columbia Vancouver Island Nanaimo



Nanaimo (Canada 2016 Census population 90,504) is a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is known as "The Harbour City." The City was previously known as the "Hub City" which has been attributed to its original layout design where the streets radiated out from the shoreline like the spokes of a wagon wheel as well as its generally centralized location on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is also the headquarters of the Regional District of Nanaimo.




Like much of coastal British Columbia, Nanaimo experiences a temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry summers. Due to its relatively dry summers, the Köppen climate classification places it at the northernmost limits of the Csb or cool-summer Mediterranean zone. Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).

Nanaimo is usually shielded from the Aleutian Low’s influence by the mountains of central Vancouver Island, so that summers are unusually dry for its latitude and location, though summer drying as a trend is found in the immediate lee of the coastal ranges as far north as Skagway, Alaska.

Heavy snowfall does occasionally occur during winter, with a record daily total of 0.74 metres (29.13 in) on 12 February 1975, but the mean maximum cover is only 0.2 metres.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Nanaimo was 40.6 °C on 16 July 1941. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -20.0 °C on 30 December 1968.



Getting There

By Plane

Seair and Harbour Air operate float plane service from downtown Vancouver and Richmond (YVR) into Downtown Nanaimo. Seair flys the De Havilland Beaver and the Cessna Caravan and operates from a terminal near the Departure Bay ferry terminal. Harbour Air operates the De Havilland Otter and operates from a larger terminal on the downtown waterfront. Harbour Air services operate hourly from about 7:00am to 6:00pm and Seair operates less frequently. The cost is about $55. Seair flights using Beavers are small planes heavily used by business travellers so reservations are recommended. From May through September, Kenmore Air also offers daily scheduled seaplane service from Seattle to Nanaimo.

Air Canada Express operates air service from the Vancouver and Calgary airports to the Nanaimo airport. The cost to add this onto an Air Canada flight into Vancouver or Calgary is often minimal. Westjet also operates flights from Calgary to Nanaimo. The Nanaimo airport is about 20km from downtown Nanaimo.

By Train

The Malahat is operated by ViaRail and travels between Victoria and Courtenay, stopping en route in Nanaimo.

By Car

It is about a 90 minute drive from Victoria.

By Bus

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 meets the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay Ferry. The cost is $22 plus ferry fare and is timed to meet every ferry departure.

Vancouver Island Coach Lines operates a coach service from Downtown Victoria to Nanaimo.

By Boat

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 and the Horsehoe Bay route is by far the more scenic. The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes long. It costs about $47 for a car and $15 per person each way for the ferry. Reservations are never required, but recommended for vehicles during peak travel times. There is a $20 charge for reservations.



Getting Around

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.





You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Internet usage is wide-spread in Canada. Wi-fi is available in many locations in larger cities, sometimes free and sometimes at a cost. You will find Wi-Fi in coffee stores, some restaurants and also hotels and motels more and more offer this service for free, but with a code usually. Internet cafes are common along major streets, and and in larger cities, charge between $3 and $4 for an hour, usually in 20-minute increments.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Canada is: 1. To make an international call from Canada, the code is: 011. Emergency services can be reached by dialling 911. This number will give you free access to Police, Fire and Ambulance services and can be used from landlines, phone booths and cell phones.

The populous areas of Canada along the border with the USA have excellent cellular and wired telecommunications, meaning that travellers are never fair from an international phone call home, a WIFI connection or an internet cafe. Depending on the mobile phone provider, coverage could be either CDMA and GSM coverage. Travellers wishing to purchase SIM cards for GSM phones should look for Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility, which all offer nationwide availability.


Postal service is provided by Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government but run as an independent business. Most post offices keep hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm though in bigger places longer hourse might be available.

To format the envelope of a letter sent within Canada, put the destination address on the centre of its envelope, with a stamp, postal indicia, meter label, or frank mark on the top-right corner of the envelope to acknowledge payment of postage. A return address, although it is not required, can be put on the top-left corner of the envelope in smaller type than the destination address.

The lettermail service allows the mailing of a letter. The basic rate is currently set at $0.63 for one standard letter (30 grams or less). The rates for lettermail are based or weight and size and determine whether the article falls into the aforementioned standard format, or in the oversize one. The rate is the same for a postcard. Mail sent internationally is known as letterpost. It can only contain paper documents. The rate for a standard letter is of $1.10 if sent to the United States, and $1.85 if sent to any other destination. Oversize or overweight letters may be charged a higher fee. Larger parcels can be shipped via Canada post both domestically and internationally, the rate is dependent on the weight and destination. [1]

Federal Express, TNT, UPS or DHL also provide interntional shipping from Canada and are usually very quick and reliable though might cost a little more compared to Canada Post.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 49.16438
  • Longitude: -123.936657

Accommodation in Nanaimo

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Nanaimo searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


as well as Peter (9%)

Nanaimo Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Nanaimo

This is version 13. Last edited at 3:23 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 3 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License