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About Nanaimo

Known as the “Harbor City”, Nanaimo is home to the main ferry terminal linking Vancouver Island to the mainland. With a boldly revitalized commercial district and a delightful waterfront, it’s worth spending a day or two here before venturing off into the wilds. For Nanaimo accommodation to suit all budgets, FlipKey has got you covered.

About Nanaimo

Found on the south-central east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is the second-largest city on Vancouver Island, after Victoria.

Built around a secluded harbor, this area has seen many upgrades since the 1990s, including a museum full of informative and interactive exhibits that tell the city’s history. Check it out!

Named after the native Snuneymuxw First Nation tribe, Nanaimo was first discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Carrasco in 1791. By the mid-half of the 19th century, the Hudson Bay Company established coal mines in the area. Coal remained the region’s main export until lumberjacking took over in the 1960s.

Today, Nanaimo is focused on the tourism industry, and has built a state of the art cruise terminal where cruise ships from Seattle stop off on their way to Alaska.

Ferry passengers arriving from Vancouver are also encouraged to spend time exploring Nanaimo before setting off on their Vancouver Island adventures.

What to do

Sitting comfortably between the Strait of Georgia and the forested peaks of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo offers the urban pleasures of a city with the recreational opportunities of the great outdoors.

In other words, visitors have the best of both worlds to select from. Start your day in Nanaimo with a walking tour of the city, combining the smart downtown shopping with the picturesque Harborfront Walkway.

While on the water, why not try fishing? There are plenty of charter operators who offer full and half-day salmon fishing trips. Rainbow trout fishing is available not far from downtown at Diver Lake and with it being a stocked facility you are almost certain to catch a fish.

Another fun activity for the entire family is crabbing from the main fishing pier in the harbor.

Golfers have 19 courses within a one hour drive of Nanaimo, while nature lovers can go bird watching at Buttertubs Marsh, or hike up Mount Benson.

Top Nanaimo travel tips

The best time to visit Nanaimo is during the dry summer months and, while the climate around Nanaimo is temperate, you can expect plenty of rain throughout the rest of the year.

When arriving at the ferry terminal, be sure to pick up a free guide to Nanaimo and the surrounding area. It’s full of helpful hints and maps to make your visit to Nanaimo the best it can be.

If visiting Vancouver Island for the fishing, the most productive months for salmon are during the spring and fall migrations.

With so much to see and do within a two-hour drive of Nanaimo, it’s not just the gateway to Vancouver Island, but an exciting destination in its own right. Consider making Nanaimo your base for a Vancouver Island vacation by renting one of the many properties available on FlipKey.