Destination guide

Nanaimo’s the gateway to Vancouver Island

Nanaimo sits quietly gazing across the deep-blue straits to its big brother, Vancouver. Ferries continually drift across the Salish Sea to moor up with the other bobbing skiffs and whale-watching trawlers in its salt-washed harbor. Travelers who opt to linger a while before breaking out into the wild reaches deeper in the heart of Vancouver Island will discover a charming place of wooded shores, seaside promenades, local museums, and cannon-topped landmarks, not to mention some excellent Nanaimo vacation rentals that ooze hearty, cozy charm.

Things to do

Pacific history and the great outdoors in Nanaimo

One attraction stands tall and proud above the bobbing boats of Nanaimo harbor is the Bastion. This timber-clad tower still rocks each noon with the firing of the cannons ceremony, and now conceals a museum all about the long-gone trading days of the Hudson’s Bay Company in these parts. After that fix of local heritage, be sure to explore the salt-washed Nanaimo seawall, or hit the wetland fishing hotspots of the Swy-a-lana Lagoon Park on the water's edge. Greater wildernesses await to the west too, where Vancouver Island turns into the rugged Pacific Rim.


Nanaimo offers walking tours and nature

Virtually all travelers who land on the shores of Vancouver Island via the harbors of Nanaimo will start by casing out the historic relics of the town's downtown area on self-guided or private walking tours, which should help reveal something of the intriguing coal mining and trading past of the place. Camping excursions to nearby reserves and inland peaks are also really popular, while those with Nanaimo vacation rentals close to Long Lake can look forward to lazy days of fishing, swimming, and boating.


Nanaimo is best done in the summer

Heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures all along this section of the Pacific coast can turn a trip to Nanaimo during the winter into a tricky affair. So, unless you're heading for the ski resorts of Mount Washington to the north, it's probably better you book those Nanaimo vacation rentals for the milder months of the year. Consider hopping across the straits between May and October to be in with the best weather, when the conditions should be perfect for camping in the sites of Newcastle Island or touring the old trading posts of the town center.

Natural features

Nanaimo and the Salish Sea

Nanaimo sits in a wide cleft between the Vancouver Island Ranges and the Pacific Ranges of mainland Canada. Rising foothills encompass the town, while wetlands and marshes, lagoons, and babbling creeks mark the moment where it drops down into the Salish Sea. There are nature reserves aplenty here, whether that means the pretty bays and coves of Newcastle Island, or the driftwood-scattered sands of Rathtrevor Beach. Nanaimo is also the gateway to other wildernesses, like the Mount Arrowsmith Massif Regional Park; a land of spear-like pine trees and salmon-infested rivers.

How to get there

Transportation to and around Nanaimo

Fly into Nanaimo, BC (ZNA-Nanaimo Harbour Water Aerodrome), the closest airport, located 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from the city center. If you can't find a flight that's convenient for your trip, you might consider flying into Nanaimo, BC (YCD), which is 8.3 mi (13.4 km) away.

Can I find a vacation rental around Nanaimo?

Yes, our 2019 property listings offer a large selection of 190 vacation rentals near Nanaimo. From 80 Houses to 46 Condos/Apartments, find a unique house rental for you to enjoy a memorable stay with your family and friends. The best places to stay near Nanaimo for a holiday or a weekend are on HomeAway.

What are the popular points of interest near where I can stay when traveling to Nanaimo?

HomeAway offers a large selection of vacation rentals near lovely places in Nanaimo. From HomeAway travelers, the most popular points of interest to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend are:

  • Vancouver Island University: 276 vacation rentals
  • Nanaimo Regional General Hospital: 287 vacation rentals
  • Pipers Lagoon Park: 353 vacation rentals
  • Nanaimo Aquatic Centre: 282 vacation rentals
  • Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park: 269 vacation rentals

But there are many other points of interest around Nanaimo listed on HomeAway where you can find your place to stay. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available near the point of interest of your choice.

Can I rent Houses in Nanaimo?

Yes, of course. HomeAway has 80 Houses in Nanaimo. Our other popular types of vacation rentals in Nanaimo include:

  • Condos/Apartments: 46 rentals available
  • Cottages: 19 rentals available
  • Cabins: 19 rentals available

But you can also enjoy a great stay in one of our other vacation rentals including Bungalows and more.

Can I find a vacation rental with pool in Nanaimo?

Yes, you can select your preferred vacation rental with pool among our 55 vacation rentals with pool available in Nanaimo. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available.

    Explore destinations around Nanaimo