Nanaimo BC, the second largest city on Vancouver Island behind Victoria, has a lot of things to do that makes it special. With a long coastline and a protected harbor, the city is a natural choice for boating and diving enthusiasts, and anyone who loves shoreline scenery. Nature buffs appreciate the mountains in the distance and the abundance of hiking trails. The Nanaimo tourism scene also includes the island's largest shopping center and the revitalized Nanaimo museum. On top of that all, Nanaimo is a university town with a rich cultural scene and a vibrant atmosphere.
If you're planning to spend time discovering the charms of Nanaimo BC, you'll need to get there first. Accessible by ferry and highway, the city is a two-hour highway trip from Victoria and a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland. The Nanaimo ferry is a comfortable, scenic cruise that follows one of two routes. One of the ferries travels from Horseshoe Bay north of Vancouver to Nanaimo's Departure Bay. The second Nanaimo ferry leaves from Tsawwassen, a straight shot straight of Vancouver close to the US/Canadian border. This modern car ferry arrives at Duke Point, south of downtown Nanaimo. Both of the ferries have frequent departures and a year-round schedule. You'll find many amenities to enjoy on board, so you can sit back and enjoy the trip to eastern Vancouver Island. There's time to study the map and plan your time in the scenic town of Nanaimo.
Some people decide to trade the Nanaimo ferry or the highway for flights into the airport. However you arrive, you'll have many choices of what to do once you arrive. If you're the kind who wants to head straight to the hotel, you won't have far to travel. Nanaimo BC has all kinds of places to stay, everything from motels that are easy on the wallet to luxury hotels overlooking the harbor. Since it's only two hours away from both Vancouver and Victoria, it would be a snap to visit for just the day as well.
Regardless of you're time on the island, you'll want to take some time sampling Nanaimo tourism scene. It's one of the best places in all of British Columbia for diving. A Canadian supply ship, no longer in service, now forms the backbone of one of the largest artificial upright reef. Local outfitters can equip with you everything you need to explore beneath the surface. Back at the surface, Nanaimo beaches are an excellent place to spend some time enjoying the great outdoors. A ribbon of beaches hugs the shoreline, home to several parks here you could go swimming or try something more active. Windsurfing is a popular pastime in Nanaimo BC, as is snorkeling in the summertime. A quick trip to nearby Snake Island will lead to a delightful experience—snorkeling with the seals.
If you're curious about the history of this scenic place, a visit to the Nanaimo Museum. It's easy to find at the center of the Nanaimo tourism world—the Vancouver Island Conference Center on Commercial Street. Exhibits explore more than 2,000 years of history, tracing the journey of the First Nations People, fur traders who shaped the local history and heritage. In the summertime, museum staff lead tours of a nearby fort dating back to the era of the Hudson Bay Company, in use long before Canada became a nation.
From the museum, it's just a short stroll to many of the best restaurants and shops along the harbor. The Nanaimo dining scene is as diverse as its history. You'll find cozy little coffee shops, fine dining restaurants, and everything in between.