How To Get Here - Tourism Nanaimo

How To Get To Nanaimo, BC

Planning your transportation to and from Nanaimo is easily tailored to the type of experience you’re looking for on Vancouver Island. Whether you’re flying in to the Nanaimo Airport or cruising across on BC ferries, Nanaimo is an accessible west coast destination.

Nanaimo Airport

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 by Ferry

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:

  • Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Departure Bay (Nanaimo) [1 hour 40 minutes]
  • Tsawwassen to Duke Point (15 minutes south of Nanaimo) [2 hours]

To ensure smooth sailing in the summer high season and on holiday weekends, reservations are recommended.

Nanaimo by Float Plane

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.

Nanaimo by Helijet

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.

Nanaimo by Boat

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.

Nanaimo by Road

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.

Travelling without a vehicle? Both National and Budget offer rental car options in Nanaimo including convenient customer pick up at Seaplane or Ferry terminals.

Now that you’ve sorted out how to get here, why not browse the things to do?

Nanaimo Travel Itineraries

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What’s Your Travel Type?

Have you ever wondered what type of traveller you are? Whether you’re more of a history buff, or perhaps a thrill-seeker? Destination Canada created this quiz to help you better understand exactly what type of traveller you are. If you’d like to see an itinerary that matches your traveller type, check out our custom itineraries.

Free Spirit

Free Spirits are most likely to be seen at a tourism hot spot, participating in a group tour, or dining out at a top restaurant.

Cultural Explorer

Cultural Explorers are most likely to be seen exploring heritage sites and museums. CE's also love to interact with locals.

Authentic Experiencer

Authentic Experiencers are most likely to be seen in nature reserves, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors, at a heritage site or a museum.

Related Stakeholders

GERTIE – Gabriola’s Community Bus

GERTIE is Gabriola’s Community Bus, which enables visitors to make self-guided tours of the Island, sans car!

PO BOX 165
Gabriola Island, British Columbia V0R 1X0


Nanaimo Airport

Nanaimo Airport is located 18km south of Nanaimo. With 340,000 passengers thru our terminal last year and 98% weather reliability we are a gateway to Vancouver Island.

3350 Spitfire Way
Cassidy, British Columbia V0R 1H0


Harbour Air Seaplanes

Flying the coast since 1982, Harbour Air Seaplanes offers scheduled flights, scenic tours and private flights. Connect between Nanaimo Harbour and downtown Vancouver, South Vancouver (YVR) and Sechelt. Let’s fly!

Unit 1A -90 Front Street
Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 5K4


Sunshine Coast Air

The Plane is waiting to take you on a spectacular Flightseeing adventure. Soar over stunning coastline + islands. Explore glacier lakes, majestic waterfalls + snowcapped mountains.

Unit #7 - 90 Front Street
Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 5H7



The newest way to get to Nanaimo is via Helijet! Daily flights to and from Nanaimo and over to Vancouver.

100 Port Way
Nanaimo, British Columbia V9R 0C7


Budget Rent A Car

Budget Car & Truck Rentals, open every day with special daily, weekly and weekend rates. Vancouver Island's largest and most respected car & truck rental agency. We rent pickups, panel vans, moving vans and all types of 4x4 trucks.

Head Office: 2501 Kenworth Road
Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 3M4