Nanaimo, B.C., the Undiscovered Jewel of Vancouver Island

Nanaimo, a small harbour city of close to 100,000, is blessed with beautiful scenery, a mild, temperate climate, a thriving arts and culture scene, a progressive, thriving university-college, and easy access to B.C.’s major metropolitan areas as well as all kinds of outdoor activities.

It has the island’s second-largest performing arts centre, The Port Theatre, a host of arts and culture groups, a vibrant, lively music scene, particularly in jazz (this is the home town of Diana Krall). The area is home to hundreds of writers, artists, musicians and craftspeople.

Vancouver Island University offers both undergraduate university degrees as well as diplomas and certificates in technical, trades and career programs. It attracts students from all over the world, with ten percent of its 20,000 full and part-time students coming from more than eighty countries. Its 110-acre campus on the slopes of Mount Benson offers spectacular views of the Georgia Strait and B.C.’s coastal mountains.

Every kind of outdoor sport is available to Nanaimo residents, from skiing on Mount Washington, an hour and-a-half drive away, to scuba diving (Nanaimo has the world’s largest artificial reef), kayaking, mountain-climbing, caving, rock-climbing, fishing, golfing, cycling, and hiking. It also has two aquatic centres, a new ice arena, and ten major parks.

An Aerial View of Nanaimo, Protection Island and Newcastle Island

If you want to visit Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city, it’s just an hour and 35 minutes on the ferry from Departure Bay in Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, or 20 minutes from downtown to downtown by seaplane. Nanaimo Airport is served by both Air Canada and West Jet. Victoria is an hour and forty minutes by car, or an hour and twenty-five minutes if you take the scenic shortcut of the Mill Bay ferry.

In terms of services, Nanaimo has a hospital, and a full range of commercial services. Downtown is a 20-30 minute walk from Pacific Gardens. We have multiple grocery stores within a five minute drive. A large, brand new Quality Foods grocery store, pharmacy and dentist office are all within walking distance, located only one kilometre away from our home. John Barsby High School is within walking distance as well as two elementary schools.

Nanaimo offers the relaxed pace and friendliness of a small town, with all the amenities of a big city. For those of us who are lucky enough to live here, we consider it to be the undiscovered jewel of Vancouver Island.