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Hotels in Nanaimo, British Columbia

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Nanaimo Hotels

The harbor city of Nanaimo is perched on calm, blue waters, and with the warmest, sunniest climate in Canada, its sandy beaches are a big draw for visitors. The city itself has a buzzing waterfront area, where friendly cafes serve the crunchy, chocolate-laden local treat of Nanaimo bars. The city prides itself on its independent and creative spirit, and its downtown area that’s stuffed with boutiques, bookstores, and places to eat.

Things to see

The clear, shallow waters of Parksville Beach allow you to paddle far away from the sandy shore, and off in the distance you’ll see people zipping around on jet skis, boats, and other imaginative vessels. Visit during August and its Beach Festival month, where you can enjoy fireworks and parties on the warm sand. Milner Gardens and Woodland provide a peaceful oasis by the sea, where winding pathways lead you through wooded areas, with plenty of varieties of fragrant flowers to appreciate, and towards the un-spoilt beach. If you’ve forgotten your swimwear, head for the Woodgrove Shopping Centre, a spacious, contemporary mall that manages to pack in plenty of chain stores, as well as some quirky local boutiques. The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery used to be a sawmill, and its utilitarian exterior is far away from the usual image of an art gallery. However, inside it’s a bright, cozy space hosting both local and international artists. A fun day out for families can be found at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, where you can bob on the relaxing wave pools, or challenge yourself to some early morning lengths.

Hotels in Nanaimo

Along the waterfront, you’re most likely to find resort hotels, and they offer spas, indoor or outdoor pools, premium bedding, and DVD players in rooms. If you’re looking for discount hotels, there are some major chains in the area, with some of them offering harbor views. These hotels will typically offer WiFi, comfortable beds, cable television, and continental breakfasts. Business travelers will also be grateful for the complimentary newspapers, coffee makers, wake up calls, and free parking that many of these hotels offer. There are also independent inns and B&Bs in the area, ideal for those who prefer their accommodation small and friendly.

Where to stay

The harbor city of Nanaimo attracts families and couples on vacation thanks to its pleasant warm weather, and both the Downtown and Waterfront areas are popular with out of towners. With plenty of historic buildings, friendly pubs offering bottles of locally brewed beer, and restaurants with views over the twinkling harbor at night, it’s a great place to socialize or just take a wander. Nearby Parksville is popular for its vast, flat sandy beaches, and the city hosts an annual sandcastle building competition during the summer. Not far north is Qualicum Beach, an area rich in small-town charm, and home to many artisans and eccentrics, giving it a reputation for being quaint and quirky. As a quiet, laidback town, it’s popular with retirees, although many families visit in the summer months.

How to get to Nanaimo

Small aircraft land at Nanaimo, BC (ZNA-Nanaimo Harbour Water Aerodrome), which is in the heart of the city, and it’s easy to get around by bus or taxi. There’s also a ferry from Vancouver, which gets you to Nanaimo in an hour and 40 minutes, and you can even take your car onboard for easy transfers once you arrive. There’s also a regional airport at Port Alberni, just over an hour’s drive to Nanaimo, and private transfers can easily be booked from local taxi firms. Port Alberni also hosts Harbour Quay, where you can dock your boat and enjoy waterfront shopping and dining, or hop on a bus to your final destination.