Nanaimo is the central hub city of Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. It is the second largest city on the island and has the second biggest harbour. In many ways it is the smaller cousin of Victoria. Like much of Vancouver Island it has moved from being primarily an industrial town to a tourist city that attracts a large number of retirees from the rest of Canada.
Most travellers to Nanaimo will arrive from Vancouver. BC Ferries operates car ferries to Nanaimo from Tsawwassen (South of Vancouver) to Duke Point south of Nanaimo, and from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. These ferries run about every 2 hours. The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes long. It costs about $47 for a car and $16 per person each way for the ferry. Reservations are never required, but recommended for vehicles during peak travel times. There is a $20 charge for reservations. The Departure Bay ferry terminal is served by Nanaimo Regional Transit to Nanaimo. Greyhound (Phone: 1-800-661-8747) and the Tofino Bus have offices inside the Departure Bay Ferry terminal. There is no bus service from Duke Point to Nanaimo. Seair Seaplanes and Harbour Air operate float plane service from downtown Vancouver into Downtown Nanaimo. Harbour Air operates the De Havilland Otter and Beaver aircraft. Both of these service operate about hourly from about 7AM to 6PM. The cost is about $70. These are small planes heavily used by business travellers so reservations are recommended. From May through September, Kenmore Air also offers daily scheduled seaplane service to Nanaimo.