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 Strait of Georgia enjoyable.
Two handy routes serve Nanaimo:
To ensure smooth sailing in the summer high season and on holiday weekends,
reservations are recommended.
Are you a boater planning a trip to a coastal area of BC, such as Nanaimo? Cruising into Nanaimo at your own pace lets you create your own experience and see the city from a different view! Check out AHOYBC ~ a valuable resource for trip planning. Visit them on their social media sites as well - Facebook and Twitter.
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.
Regularly scheduled flights to downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport South Terminal are available through Harbour Air Seaplanes, Sunshine Coast Air and Seair Seaplanes. 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 and is a gateway to Vancouver Island. This busy modern airport is home to three air carriers - Air Canada, WestJet & Island Express and offers 7 daily flights to Vancouver, 4 daily non-stop flights to Calgary and twice daily service to Abbotsford, Vancouver South Terminal, Boundary Bay and Victoria. Airport shuttles and taxis connect the city with the airport and a number of rental car kiosks are conveniently located at YCD. Short and long-term parking are available.
Nanaimo's newest way to travel is via Helijet. Daily flights to and from Vancouver's helipad and Nanaimo's Cruise Ship Terminal location are easily booked online or over the phone. For an up to date schedule, click HERE.
**NEW eTA Requirements (Electronic Travel Authorization)** - On August 1st, Canada introduced a new entry requirement known as the Electronic Travel Authorization (or eTA). Under eTA, foreign nationals from countries who do not need a visa will need to get an online authorization before flying to Canada, unless otherwise exempted from the requirement. Although not a mandatory requirement until March 15th 2016, eligible travelers have the opportunity to go online and apply for their eTA since its launch on August 1st. For more information, visit their website HERE.
Nanaimo often feels like the mainland to residents, even though it's an island city. This isn't far from the truth, since Vancouver Island is the largest North American island in the Pacific Ocean, stretching approximately 500km northwest to southeast, and 200 km east to west, with 3440 km of spectacular coastline. The island is home to more than 750,000 residents, and covers 32,261 square kilometres, making it about the same size as Holland.
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