How to Get to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC
Being the central travel hub of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is easy to get to! Nanaimo’s transportation is serviced by ferries, buses, airplanes (land or sea), and even trains that go directly to Nanaimo, from the nearby city of Victoria, or from the towns of upper Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and of course from Vancouver on the mainland. If you are coming on your own, there are bicycle routes and boating facilities worth knowing about.
View Larger Map
Several convenient BC Ferry Corporation ferries cruise directly from the Vancouver area to Nanaimo each day, one arrives into downtown Nanaimo, just a 4 minute car ride to Port-O-Call motel, and another arrives at Duke Point terminal, which is a 15-minute car ride to the Port-O-Call motel. Ferries carry passengers as well as vehicles and bicycles, and have a reservation system available up to 24 hours before sailings.
Being on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the city of Nanaimo is serviced by both land and sea aircraft. Seaplanes land right next to downtown Nanaimo so can be very convenient for visitors from Vancouver, Seattle, and the Sunshine Coast. Harbour Air / West Coast Air (1-800-665-0212) serves Vancouver International Airport and Sechelt (Sunshine Coast). Seair Seaplanes (1-866-692-6440) flies to and from Vancouver downtown as well as the International Airport. Tofino Air (1-877-461-5749) flies between Gabriola Island, Tofino, Sechelt, Vancouver and Nanaimo. Kenmore Air flies from Seattle to Nanaimo and other Vancouver Island towns. The Nanaimo Airport (YCD) is about 18 Kilometers south of Nanaimo and is served by Air Canada Jazz (Vancouver International Airport), WestJet Encore (Calgary), Island Express Air (Victoria and Abbotsford).
Hertz, Budget, and National car rental companies have offices in Nanaimo and/or the Nanaimo Airport. Nanaimo Airporter transportation is the most affordable ground transportation in Nanaimo from Cassidy/Nanaimo Airport, Duke Point and Departure Bay.
If you are driving to Nanaimo in your own vehicle (car, camper, motor home, etc.), the easy ways of navigation are using the Google Map with a computer or smartphone, or using a GPS, or using a good paper map (available in gas stations or through AAA, CAA). Nanaimo is a destination hub, so there are many roads that connect it with other communities. Highway Webcams along the main Highways 1 and 19 are continuously updated.
There are several bus companies that serve Nanaimo. The Nanaimo Bus Terminal (1-250-753-4371) is located at the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. Most buses have discounts for students and seniors, be sure to ask. Some offer tours and shuttle services to and from ferry terminals and the airport. The largest company, Greyhound Canada travels to and from Victoria, Campbell River, Port Hardy, and Vancouver. They moved their location to the Departure Bay ferry terminal along with the Tofino Bus. The Tofino Bus (1-866-986-3466) rides to Port Alberni and Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. IslandLink Bus Services makes runs between the Departure Bay BC Ferries, Campbell River, Victoria, and (in the summer) to Port Hardy.
Many bike trails help to join the different regions of Nanaimo, even through some areas are hilly, there is always the ability to put your bike on local RDN buses (PDF). Cycling on Vancouver Island highway can be lots of fun.
The Nanaimo Port Authority (1-250-753-4146) manages the waters around Nanaimo and has an online list of Moorage Facilities, Events, and Boat Shows.
Getting Around Once You Are Here
The Nanaimo Regional District Transit bus system covers central Nanaimo and outlying areas as far north as Parksville and Qualicum.
Taxis and Shuttles
Taxi and shuttle services are available throughout Nanaimo using AC Taxi (1-800-753-1231), Swiftsure Taxi (1-250-753-8911), Howe Sound Taxi (1-250-741-8800), Yellow Cab (1-250-751-1111), or the Nanaimo Airporter (/1-888-758-2133)
How do you spell Nanaimo?
Nanaimo has several other spellings sometimes, which are all incorrect. It’s not an easy name to say or spell, if you have never heard it before! Misspellings could be Naniamo, Nanimo, Namino, Nanimoh, Nahnihmo, Nahnimo, Naniamoe, Nanamoh, Nanamoe, Nahnamoh, Naghniahmo, Nahniamo, Nahniamoe, Naneimoh, Naneimo, Naghniemo, Naaniemo, Naaniemoh, Naaniemoe, Nanaimoe, Nanaimoh, Naniamoh, Naniamoe. The correct spelling is Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.
Other mis-spellings for Port-O-Call Motel are: portocallnanaimocom. portocallnanaimocom, and it is also known as Port-O-Call Inn and Suites accomodations.