Nicknamed the Harbour city, Nanaimo is located on the east side of Vancouver Island, off of the southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. As of 2022, Nanaimo has a population of 104,836. Nanaimo offers a skilled workforce, enticing lifestyle options and a technology hub, the Nanaimo region is attracting new residents and business to the area every year. The island’s mild climate of over 1,800 hours of sunshine each year, and the quality of life has been attracting people from all across the country; over half of all new residents come from other provinces in Canada and include working aged families with young children, pre-retirees and millennials.

Vancouver Island has a population base of approximately of 861, 864 in 2021. In the 2021 Census, the population for the Regional District of Nanaimo is 170,367. Of this number, 26% live in electoral areas and First Nation communities and the remaining 74%  live in municipalities. Vancouver Island consists of small rural communities to modern urban centres like Courtenay, Nanaimo and Victoria. As the economic hub of Central Vancouver Island, the Nanaimo region is easily accessible by sea or air to the Lower Mainland and the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver Island stretches 31,285 km² (12,079 mi²); making it the largest island on the west coast of North America.


Nanaimo offers an abundance of recreational activities. Residents can enjoy the use of 63 playgrounds, 4 public beaches, 20 picnic areas, 3 pools, 4 indoor ice rinks, 3 golf courses, and a staggering number of parks, 200 of them in fact.

You can stroll the waterfront sea wall, challenge yourself to hike up Mount Benson, explore the boundless trail system at Neck Point Park and Piper’s Lagoon, and picnic or bike Newcastle Island, a provincial park just off the shores of downtown Nanaimo.

Information from: City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Park and Recreation, Regional District of Nanaimo

Spring time in Nanaimo. Neck Point Park in North Nanaimo
Vancouver Island University Nanaimo Campus


School District 68 school board administers the Nanaimo and Ladysmith public school system. There are currently 27 elementary schools, kindergarten to grade 7, and 7 secondary schools, grades 8 to 12. French immersion programs are offered at 4 elementary schools and 2 secondary school. The District also offers Island ConnectEd K-12 (formerly known as Learn@Home). It is a distributed learning, public school that provides a flexible, blended learning environment which allows students/families to learn at a distance. Nanaimo is also home to three private schools offering elementary and high school programs. Nanaimo Christian School, Aspengrove School and Nanaimo Montessori School.

The Nanaimo region is home to a well-trained, highly motivated, and educated workforce. Helping to build the future of the island is Vancouver Island University (VIU); located in Nanaimo, VIU is a leader in contract training for business and industry and is influential in producing many of the Island’s most qualified and desirable recruits. VIU provides training in academic, vocational, and technical fields.

Information from: Nanaimo – Ladysmith Public Schools, Vancouver Island University


Nanaimo has one airport, two float plane terminals, two ferry terminals (Departure Bay & Duke Point), a recently updated highway system, and a public transit bus system. Nanaimo is easily accessible to the mainland by ferry, air, and to other Island destinations by road. It is a 20 minute flight to downtown Vancouver or a 95 minute ferry ride to West Vancouver.


Ferry services provide an important link between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Regularly scheduled ferry service is available between Nanaimo and Vancouver. There are two main ferry terminals in Nanaimo, operated by the British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. The Departure Bay terminal serves the Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay route, while the Duke Point terminal in the city’s south end serves the Nanaimo to Tsawwassen route.

Located in the Downtown Nanaimo Harbour, next to Cameron Island is the Gabriola Island ferry terminal. This smaller terminal offers regular hourly service between Nanaimo (Nanaimo Harbour) and Gabriola Island (Descanso Bay).

BC Ferries | Gabriola Island Ferry at the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal
Nanaimo Airport


Nanaimo Airport (YCD) is located 18 km (9 miles) south of the city in Cassidy. Nanaimo Airport has seen steady growth in the last decade as key investments since 2006 have transformed YCD into a trusted transportation partner. Nanaimo Airport is serviced by Air Canada Jazz, WestJet Encore and Island Express.


Nanaimo’s Seaplane Terminal is operated by the Nanaimo Port Authority, provides facilities for seaplane flights from downtown Nanaimo. Regularly scheduled flights to downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport are available through Harbour Air, West Coast Air, and Seair Seaplanes; flight time is 20 minutes. Harbour Air flies to 9 destinations in British Columbia with frequent service between Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland. Sunshine Coast Air provides flight service between Nanaimo and Sechelt as well as Victoria.

Helijet provides 14 scheduled flights between 7 am and 7 pm weekdays from Nanaimo and the Cruise ship welcome centre in downtown Vancouver. Helijet is equipped to operate in daylight, after dark and in most weather situations.

Nanaimo Seaplane Terminal - Harbour Air Seaplane


Calgary, AB 983 km 609 miles
Campbell River, BC 153 km 95 miles
Courtenay, BC 107 km 66 miles
Port Hardy, BC 391 km 242 miles
Seattle, WA 217 km 135 miles
Tofino, BC 207 km 128 miles
Vancouver, BC 81 km 50 miles
Victoria, BC 113 km 70 miles

*Source Nanaimo Region Economic Profile