Location & Geography

Nanaimo, BC is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 113 km north of Victoria, and 55 km across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver. The city projects out into the strait like a headland, affording waterfront on three sides and spectacular ocean views at every turn. BC Ferry terminals in Departure Bay and Duke Point link Nanaimo directly to the Vancouver metro area, and smaller ferries offer service to and from several islands pressed up against the shore here. Gabriola Island, Protection Island, and Mudge Island (without ferry service) are home to small communities, while forest and field-covered Newcastle Island is designated as a provincial marine park. The local landscape is defined by Mount Benson, which rises 1,006 metres (3,300 feet) just west of Nanaimo, and the Nanaimo River estuary, the largest estuary on Vancouver Island, which flows into Nanaimo Harbour at the south end of the city.

Map of Nanaimo


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.

Map of Vancouver Island

Map of Vancouver Island


Nanaimo Distance Chart

Vancouver Island is home to many bustling communities from the large (Victoria) to the small (Bamfield). If you're travelling the Island, this handy distance chart will give you an idea of how far you might be going on a given road trip (and whether you should pack a snack or a full lunch!), so you can plan accordingly.

Distance from Nanaimo to:

City / Town Kilometres Miles
Bamfield 149 93
Campbell River 150 90
Chemainus 37 23
Courtenay/Comox 105 63
Coombs/Errington 42 25
Duncan 51 31
Ladysmith 23 14
Parksville 36 21.6
Port Alberni 84 50
Port Hardy 391 235
Port McNeill 352 211
Qualicum Beach 47 28
Tofino 223 134
Ucluelet 197 118
Victoria 114 68
Copyright © Tourism Nanaimo  |  Admin | MMS
Last modified: Aug 18, 2014   Page #: 10
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