Nanaimo is only a short ferry ride from Vancouver (from either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen), and is a great place to get away from the city, without giving up the convenience of, you know, being in the city.
Take the ferry.
What you want a bit more detail than that? Okay…
Great thing about Nanaimo is that it is really easy to get to – no need for a car. Head to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal 257 bus and catch the boat to Departure Bay. Without a car it will cost you about $15 and you won’t need reservations. You can bring a bike for $2 extra.
Departure Bay Ferry terminal is not far from Nanaimo. If you brought a bike, it is an easy ride. If not, catch a taxi or bus ($2.50 one way) into town.
Places to Stay
Nanaimo has a decent selection of hostels and campsites for you to stay at. It is a big enough city to find any type of accommodation. For a hostel, try Nichol Street Hostel – you can camp in the backyard as well.
Eating and Drinking
Memory serves that Acme Food Company has decent food at reasonable prices. Make sure you check out the Dinghy Dock Pub (see below) and the Cambie Hostel’s pub isn’t bad.
Check out Nanaimo Restaurants for reviews of local eateries.
Okay, but Why do You Really Want to Go?
Nanaimo may not be the biggest tourist attraction, but it’s a decent place to go to get away from the big city, without having to go very far. That being said, exploring the islands of Nanaimo harbour is tons of fun.
Whatever you do, make sure you get to the Dinghy Dock pub on Protection Island. Not quite sure what it is about the place, but it’s a lot of fun. Maybe it’s just the fact that you have to take a boat to get to the pub, making it a special experience.
While on Protection Island, have a wander around – people actually live there, and street names are pirate (and sometimes rum) inspired, like Captain Morgan’s Boulevard, Treasure Trail and Pirates’ Lane.
The other islands are worth a look to. Newcastle Island is a large provincial park, and sitting around watching the wildlife is good way to spend part of a day. Black tailed deer live on the island, as well as the rare golden racoon.
You tell me – have you been to Nanaimo? What were your favourite spots?