Nanaimo has a comprehensive transportation network designed to support and promote the growth of existing businesses and to facilitate the establishment of new operations. Nanaimo has a modern and efficient transportation network, one airport, two float plane terminals, two ferry terminals, a recently enhanced highway system, and a public transit system. The average commute time from the outer boundaries of the city to downtown is 15 minutes. 

The city is easily accessible to the mainland by ferry, air, and to other Island destinations by road. Deep-sea shipping facilities are available through the Port of Nanaimo. Businesses have a range of options to access markets, customers and suppliers. Nanaimo is situated directly on Vancouver Island’s main highway, Highway 19, providing easy access to all major centres on Vancouver Island. 

Major investment in the island highway has reduced travel time between Nanaimo and other island communities. This has resulted in access to a larger market and workforce area, and has enhanced the city’s role as a transportation and distribution hub for the central and North Island.

From Nanaimo to:

Vancouver, BC 61 km 38 miles
Victoria, BC 113 km 70 miles
Courtenay, BC 107 km 66 miles
Campbell River, BC 153 km 95 miles


Port Hardy, BC 391 km 242 miles
Seattle, Washington 217 km 135 miles
Calgary, Alberta 983 km 609 miles
Edmonton, Alberta 1,163 km 721 miles


Nanaimo Airport

Source: Nanaimo Airport

Source: 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, serving 435,349 passenger in 2018. Key investments since 2006 have transformed YCD into a trusted transportation partner experiencing unmatched growth.  By 2020 it is estimated YCD’s economic impact will be in excess of 2,000 jobs and $150 million in economic activity. 

YCD offers one of the largest available land masses for airside and groundside development of any BC airport in close proximity to Vancouver. More than 50 hectares of the approximately 200-hectare site has prime business potential. Recent additions to YCD tenant list include FedEx, Enex Fuels and Alkan Air. The airport has a 6,600 ft. runway capable of accommodating 737-700W aircraft. YCD’s Instrument Landing System (ILS) allows the airport to be over 99% weather reliable. Nanaimo Airport is serviced by Air Canada Jazz, WestJet Encore and Island Express, current schedule offers:

  • Eight non-stop daily flights to Vancouver International Airport, (flight time of 15 minutes)

  • Four summer/ Three winter non-stop flights to Calgary

  • Daily service to Abbotsford, Boundary Bay, Comox, Victoria and Vancouver’s South Terminal

  • Four direct flights per week to Toronto, effective June 21, 2018

For additional information, contact the airport at (250) 924-2157

Nanaimo Seaplane  & Helijet Terminals

The Nanaimo Seaplane Terminals are 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, 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 Cruise ship welcome centre to downtown Vancouver. Helijet is equipped to operate in daylight, after dark and in most inclement weather.

For more info, please visit:
Harbour Air Seaplanes
Seair Seaplanes
Sunshine Coast Air

nanaimo port authority

Nanaimo is Vancouver Island’s largest commercial port, with 4 berths and over 21 ha (88 acres) of paved storage space, covered warehousing space and barge loading facilities. Located 36 nautical miles west of Vancouver and centrally located on Vancouver Island, the Nanaimo Port Authority is the region’s most convenient load centre port. Harbour operations include multiple facets within port boundaries and include deep sea ship anchorages, port security, environmental protection, debris control, safety and navigation, seaplane operations, terminal Operations plus permitting for Harbour events. The Nanaimo Port Authority works with Federal, Provincial and Municipal agencies and stakeholders to achieve the highest levels of service for its clients. Through its commercial terminals the Port of Nanaimo is a significant economic generator with cargo handling operations.

In April 2018, the Nanaimo Port Authority, along with partners, Western Stevedoring and SSA Marine, announced the construction of a multipurpose break bulk terminal with an initial focus on European automobile import and processing at its downtown assembly wharf lands. This project will create new jobs, significant economic growth for the region and further identification of port operations.

Source: Nanaimo Port Authority

Duke Point

The Duke Point terminal is located south of Nanaimo in the Duke Point Industrial Park with a new barge service from Vancouver Island to Vancouver. There is excellent proximity to the Island Highway system with connections to the lower mainland and property for lease. The Duke Point terminal features a deep sea berth, 40 metric tonne container handling gantry crane, paved and unpaved storage. A new barge berth allowing for additional 82 metres adjacent to the existing berth providing simultaneous loading and discharging efficiencies. The Liebherr 500 Mobile Harbour Crane, offers 104 metric tonne capacity and 51 meter outreach. This crane is being utilized for handling container barge service to and from Vancouver and project cargoes moving through the Port. The new crane is the largest mobile crane on Vancouver Island and is believed to be the largest land based mobile crane in Western Canada.

Cruise Ship Terminal

In May 2011, the Nanaimo Port Authority opened a new $25 million floating cruise ship terminal and welcoming Centre. The cruise ship berth is designed to handle the largest cruise ships that will operate on the West Coast.  The uplands project, houses a Canada Border Service Agency inspection facility, a Welcome Centre and the Port’s new corporate offices. Nanaimo Port Authority is working with the cruise lines to welcome more cruise ships annually to Nanaimo.

For more information, contact the Nanaimo Port Authority at (250) 753-4146.

bc ferries

Water transportation services provide a vital link between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Regularly scheduled ferry service is available between Nanaimo and Vancouver. There are two primary 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. 

Reservations are possible. Crossing time ranges from 1 hour 35 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the route. There are 16 scheduled sailings daily. The ferries are capable of carrying about 360 vehicles (including trucks and commercial vehicles) and over 1,400 passengers. In 2017-18, more than 5.1 million passengers and 1.99 million vehicles travelled between Nanaimo and Vancouver. (BC Ferries fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31st of each year.) 


Nanaimo Regional Transit is the first transit system in B.C. to make the switch to compressed natural gas. CNG burns cleaner than diesel, and engines running on natural gas operate much quieter. The RDN Transit System provides both regular transit (Conventional transit) and handyDART (Custom transit) service. RDN Transit is an integrated system with service in urban centres and rural areas, providing dedicated connections to shopping, educational and recreational facilities. Public transit is provided by Nanaimo Regional Transit System with service between 6:40 am and 11:00 pm. Buses run every 15 minutes during peak hours on core runs, and every half-hour during off-peak times.

For more Information contact Public Transit Nanaimo Area: 250-390-4531 OR