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Dubbed "The Harbour City" and previously known as "Hub City" for its central location on the island, Nanaimo is Vancouver Island's "second metropolis" in British Columbia, Canada. Nanaimo is around 55 kilometres west of Vancouver, Canada. It is where the main ferry terminal is located and is therefore a gateway to many other destinations on the northern parts of the island as well as off-coast and to many others. Nanaimo is home to an estimated population of more than 84,000 as well as to a lot of alternative adventure activities that the city is known for.

What to see & do

As British Columbia's sixth largest city, Nanaimo is a rapidly growing urban centre that has become popular for a wealth of recreation, nature adventures, and tourist attractions. Explore its sparkling blue waterfront by hiking, kayaking, boating, and biking. Snorkel and scuba dive to Nanaimo's fascinating sunken wrecks: the Saskatchewan, the Rivtown Lion, and the Cape Breton which is recognised as the World's Largest Artificial Upright Reef. Experience Canada's only floating pub, the Dinghy Dock Pub, where children can also fish in the floor while waiting. Visit the downtown area and see the Nanaimo Bastion, a preserved coal mining operation structure which has become the city's premier landmark and a popular tourist attraction. Enjoy the view by the Nanaimo seawall, a pedestrian walkway near the Bastion. Get lost in the charm of the Old City Quarter, a worthwhile hike uphill from the waterfront on Bastion that leads to galleries and eateries in vibrant old buildings. See what's happening in the Nanaimo Museum and check out the art shops, independent stores, and cafes in the vicinity. Don't forget to witness or join a Bathtub race, a quirky and fun-filled racing activity happening since 1967 and is part of a four-day marine festival happening annually in July. Camp and hike on Newcastle Island with its stunning trails through beautiful forests along the coastline. If travelling with children, the Wild Play Element Parks is a must-visit for its tree-lined adventure playground featuring bungee jumping and zip-lining among many others.

How to get around within Nanaimo

The Regional Transit, operated by the Regional District of Nanaimo and BC Transit, provides regular services around the city. However, it is advised to get hold of the schedule. It serves residential areas and the rural areas with links to educational, recreational, and shopping facilities in Nanaimo. Cars can also be arranged ahead of time to be rented at the Nanaimo Airport, Departure Bay Ferry terminal, or the downtown harbour. The city is also bike-friendly, with highways having moderate grades and wide shoulders, as traffic is also light compared to other cities.

How to get there

Air Canada Jazz has eight flights per day from Vancouver International Airport to Nanaimo Airport. WestJet Encore has daily flights to Nanaimo from Calgary, and Island Express Air has flights from Abbotsford and Victoria to Nanaimo twice per day. Baxter Aviation and Harbour Air Seaplane have floatplanes operating from the Vancouver Harbour to Nanaimo Seaplane Terminal, and Kenmore Air also provides a seaplane service to Nanaimo from Seattle, Washington.

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