Nanaimo, where you are propelled by pedals along trails and the soles of your boots lead you down to the waterfalls of the rainforest foundation. Apart from this even when kicking back on the beach to watch the ferry dock, or drinking a cool homemade cocktail, everyone can feel the quietness to rejuvenate. Undoubtedly, Nanaimo is a beautiful town situated strategically on the east coast of Vancouver Island, overlooking the Salish Sea to the Coastal Ranges on British Columbia‘s mainland.
Nature is a major part of what makes this city so attractive, but it also adds to the charm of the downtown along with stores, restaurants, and museums. On the other hand, Whale watching and nature tours, soaking up the sights of the Harbourfront Walkway, and visiting some of the local parks are some of the most common activities to do. Moreover, See our list of best attractions and things to do in Nanaimo for more ideas.
Best Time To Visit Nanaimo
March to May and September to November are the perfect times for visiting Nanaimo. The area sees some of the mildest weather in the country and the driest summers, so in the spring and fall, focus on comfortable temperatures though you might experience a light drizzle here and there.
How to Reach Nanaimo
By Water: Nanaimo and Vancouver Island are well served by transportation carriers, if you’re looking for flexibility, affordability or comfort. Go on a ferry route for a soothing, scenic cruise, one of the friendliest cruises in the world. Whereas, BC Ferries with 2 terminals at Departure Bay and Duke Point, links Nanaimo with Mainland.
By Air: Nanaimo has various options for flying in. Nanaimo Airport, which has many local and international flights, is just 18 km south of Nanaimo. To take you to and from the airport, taxis, shuttles and rental cars are available. Seaplanes and transportation by helicopter are also available near downtown.
Now Coming to top attractions, here are the must see places in Nanaimo…
1. Harbourfront Walkway
A multi-use trail between the Newcastle River and the central waterfront is the Harbourfront Walkway. All of the aspects that makes this town so beautiful is this. Moving right along the river below Front Street, in some places and in other sections, this walkway is suspended over the beach and bay, skirting through parks and green spaces.
2. Whale Watching
Experience BC’s most healthy whale viewing in their natural environment across the Sea Ecosystem to see whales and other aquatic animals. Killer whales, humpback whales, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, eagles, and more are found in Nanaimo’s coastal wilderness. There are a number of whales you can encounter, but the tour focuses on orcas. Tour times depend on how long it takes to get to where the whales are, but with only one hour spent with the whales, there are normally three to four hours.
3. Downtown Nanaimo
The picturesque town of Nanaimo, strategically situated on Vancouver Island, has long been known as British Columbia’s centre. Among art lovers, foodies, gift shoppers, and everything in between, Downtown Nanaimo, in particular, is popular. It is clear why people come to this area of the city year after year to satisfy the shopping bug, from crowded bookstores to clothing retailers, art galleries, and various boutiques.
4. Nanaimo Museum
Located in the downtown centre, the Nanaimo Museum tells the storey of our special culture. The museum houses many permanent exhibitions that help visitors grasp the history and present of Nanaimo. Feature exhibitions are regularly hosted by the Nanaimo Museum, sharing world-class shows from other museums in Canada and beyond. The Community Gallery of the museum, meanwhile, is a space devoted to the sharing of smaller works of sculpture, literary creations, and photographs created by community members.
5. Neck Point Park
Neck Point is a waterfront theme park for Nanaimo and the area. The park is recognised as an environmentally conscious area and its architectural, scenic and natural features are well known in the region. For photographers trying to catch the spirit of Nanaimo and the lifestyle of the west coast, the park is a perfect venue. The park is also popular with scuba divers since diving is allowed by an access route.
6. Nanaimo Bar Trail
The Nanaimo Bar Trail takes you to enjoy the various deliciously inventive variations of our iconic treat, stretching the area from Lantzville in the north to Cedar in the south and now having a stop on Gabriola Island. Pick up a Nanaimo Bar Trail Brochure to map your journey through the 39 stops and stop by the Visitor Centres or any of the participating locations.
7. Pipers Lagoon Park
Featuring beautiful trails and ocean views, Pipers Lagoon Park makes it a great spot to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. This park features winding paths that lead to a variety of seaside lookouts, built on an isthmus that stretches to a rocky headland. Pipers Lagoon is an excellent retreat for birdwatching. Many of the types of bird life include seagulls, sandpipers, horned grebes, loons, kingfishers, oyster catchers and great blue herons.
8. Vancouver Island Military Museum
There is the octagon-shaped Vancouver Island Military Museum on a hill high above downtown Nanaimo. The vision is exceptional from up here over the harbour and out over the bay, beyond the Coastal Mountains. Displays include a look at the navy, army and air force of Canada, as well as the wars in which they have been engaged in and their role in the history of Canada. A large variety of artefacts and other objects are on display, including uniforms, weapons, models, medals, and other memorabilia.
9. Saysutshun (Newcastle Island)
This marine provincial park is only accessible by foot passenger ferry or boat, historically known as Saysutshun by the Snuneymuxw people. It is situated inside Nanaimo’s Harbour, a stunning location with incredible Harbour City panoramic views. In the shape of natural trails, beaches, old sandstone quarries. The remnants of fish salt, and coal mining sites, nature and culture blend here. This is also a fantastic camping spot with walk-in sites popular with families.
10. Morrell Nature Sanctuary
Morrell Nature Sanctuary is a lightly trafficked 3.9 kilometer loop trail near Nanaimo that includes a lake and is ideal for all levels of ability. The trail is used mainly for camping, biking and running and is open throughout the year. Dogs are also allowed on this trail but they must be kept on leash. For anyone looking to see what a temperate rainforest looks like, this is a perfect venue. With blankets of moss, hanging moss, moss-covered rocky knolls, it is very green.