Part of the charm of visiting Nanaimo is getting here! Cruise the modern, comfortable and well-equipped BC Ferry Service between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. BC Ferries is the largest ferry service in North America and the second largest in the world, offering many amenities to make your trip across the Straight of Georgia enjoyable.
Two handy routes serve Nanaimo:
To ensure smooth sailing in the summer high season and on holiday weekends,
reservations are recommended.
Driving on Vancouver Island is easy and congestion-free with two-lane highways connecting most communities. Many Vancouver Island destinations are within a short drive making Nanaimo your gateway to explore the Island.
Driver's Licenses & Permits
US Visitors - Your American driver's license is valid in Canada
Make sure you bring along proof of insurance by asking your insurance company for a free "Non-resident Inter-Provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card" before you leave, or carry the policy itself. If you're driving a borrowed car or trailer, bring a letter of permission signed by the owner. If you're driving a rented car, carry a copy of the rental contract.
All other visitors to Canada - Applying for the International Driving Permit (IDP)
If you are visiting from outside the United States, it is highly advised that you apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) from the Automobile Association in your country of residence before you leave. This will allow you to drive in Canada and rent a car here. Regulations vary in each Canadian province. The IDP is a special license for tourists, authorized by UN treaty, which is printed in 10 languages and recognized in over 150 countries around the world.
For specific information on rules and regulations for driving in British Columbia, visit the Ministry of Transportation and Infastructure's website.
For information on driving in other provinces in Canada, we suggest you visit the Canadian Tourism Commission's website.
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Regularly scheduled flights to downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport South Terminal are available through Harbour Air Seaplanes and Tofino Air. Flight time is approximately 20 minutes. Charter services and flights to Vancouver International Airport South Terminal is also available through Seair Seaplanes.
For quick and easy international connections from anywhere in the world, Nanaimo Airport (YCD) is located just 18 kilometers south of downtown Nanaimo. This busy modern airport offers multiple daily flights between Nanaimo, Vancouver and Seattle. Westjet Encore provides direct flights between Nanaimo and Calgary. Airport shuttles and taxis connect the city with the airport and a number of rental car kiosks are conveniently located at YCD.
Did you know? Kenmore Air now flies to Nanaimo Airport from Seattle's Boeing Field.