Bastion - Visitor Information Centre
Bastion – Visitor Information Centre

Further Ashore

Now that you are snuggly berthed, it’s time to discover all the amenities and activities you can enjoy. Beyond the lively waterfront is an enchanting small city with charming streets full of cultural and culinary attractions. There are many places to explore by foot or bike and trails to get you there. Nanaimo is perfectly located for day excursions to several islands. On this page, you will find information on recreational activities, attractions, shopping, hospitality and local transportation. There are also many community events that welcome visitors.

We love to tell you about our community. So, come to the

Seasonal Visitor Centre (May – September)

in the historic Bastion, located on Front Street just above the Boat Basin


Use the On the Waterfront tab to find marine services adjacent to the ocean. There are many more outlets to serve you.


The first thing you might want to do is stretch your legs along the Harbourfront Walkway. It leads north from the boat basin, over the Millstone River, then about 1.2 km to the Waterfront Suites and Marina. This is a great way to get a sense of Nanaimo as a recreational port. The walkway is beside the water, crosses some parks, passes several marinas and has many an outlet for ice cream, coffee or a tall, cold draft.

Nanaimo is a comfortably walkable town with a network of walking trails and parks. Pick up the brochure at the visitor centre. Some of the places you may want to visit are the historic downtown, Old City Quarter, the interpretative trails in Bowen Park and Cedar Yellow Point Artisan Trail. For those who want to explore more widely, there are three connected bike trails with a trailhead just up the hill from the boat basin.

Island Biking

Biking is a fabulous way to see all of Newcastle Island. Take your bikes in your dinghy or on the little ferry. If mountain biking, while you’re ashore, is a passion, then we suggest the trails in Westwood Lake Park, about 6 km from the waterfront. Protection Island is another great outing on foot or bike. The island is ringed by parks and beaches. The trails and quiet roads take you everywhere. Might be best to take the ferry, but you can always tie up at the Dinghy Dock Pub. Either way, there is good pub food and ale at the end (or start!) of your day.

Gabriola Island is a little world worth spending several days exploring. Begin with the art and history of First Nations revealed in petroglyphs at the Gabriola Museum and Petroglyph Park. The natural art of Malaspina Galleries is best seen from the water, but the galleries are accessed by a 1 km trail. Fabulous biking trails, beaches, parks, golf course, a few great restaurants and a thriving niche farm community make Gabriola a microcosm of BC’s wild, but civilized, coast. Boaters have two full-service marinas to choose from and Gabriola has several anchorages from which to deploy kayaks and view the robust seal population. You may anchor and land in Twin Bays, northeast of the ferry terminal or tie up at Degnen Bay Harbour Authority at the southeast end of the island. There is a ferry service from Nanaimo and kayak rentals, ecotours and fishing charters get you on the water. Or under the water, including snorkelling with the seals.

If mountain biking, while you’re ashore, is a passion, then we suggest the trails in Westwood Lake Park, about 6 km from the waterfront. There are many hikes in the city and surrounding region. If you brought your clubs, there are nine golf courses in the area, including one on Gabriola Island and the sail-in course at Fairwinds in Nanoose Bay. Family fun abounds at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, Morning Star Bison Ranch, Wildplay Element Park and many more places.

There are several fitness centres in Nanaimo. The one closest to the waterfront is Harbour City Fitness and Tanning; about a 15-minute walk. The Romper Room Indoor Rock Climbing Center caters to all levels of skill; it is about 15 km from the Boat Basin.


Nanaimo proves it is possible to have a culture that is dynamic and laid back. Its ambiance sits between small town and big city. Nanaimo has grown quickly over the past thirty years but it doesn’t seem like anyone was caught by surprise. Everywhere you look you see good planning. As the transportation, shipping and commerce centre for most of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is vibrant and endowed with arts and culture. Here is your guide to local attractions.


A short walk from Boat Basin

The Bastion is the only surviving wooden Hudson Bay Company bastion. Its survival is a miracle since it has been moved twice; the first time in 1891 at a cost to the city of $175. Do visit Front Street above the Boat Basin and take advantage of the summer Visitor Information Centre inside.

Historic Downtown Nanaimo

10-minute walk from Boat Basin

Our tidily preserved, c. 1920 downtown has a wide variety of shops and eateries. Bring your camera. You will want to remember the charm and colour of historic Nanaimo. Pick up a Nanaimo Bar Trail brochure before your stroll.

Old City Quarter

15-minute walk from Boat Basin

Take the walking tour and go back even further in time to the late 19th century. Pick up a Nanaimo Bar Trail brochure before your stroll.

Nanaimo Museum

10-minute walk from Boat Basin

Boating visitors will be especially interested in the Harbour and Snunéymuxw Exhibits. Everyone will be fascinated by a trip to a 1920s classroom in the Educating Nanaimo re-creation. Top it off with immersion in the controversial history of the Nanaimo bar.

Vancouver Island Military Museum

5 minute walk from Boat Basin

The museum has assembled a truly impressive collection of military memorabilia and artifacts from the War of 1812 right through to Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.


Culinary, craft beer, old-growth forest and more.


Port Theatre

Across the street ( Front St) from Boat Basin – five-minute walk from W.E. Mills Landing & Marina

Elegantly perched above the harbour, the theatre invites seafarers to enjoy a variety of entertainment and events. Home of the Vancouver Island Symphony.


Lovers of the sea will not want to miss the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival, Silly Boat Regatta or the World Championship Bathtub Race. There is always something going on at Maffeo Sutton Park, adjacent to the Boat Basin.

Music and Nightlife

Never a dull moment in Nanaimo

The Queens 34 Victoria Crescent – Nanaimo’s live music venue, this energetic, casual pub features Chinese food and tavern fare.

Casino Nanaimo

Leave the deed to the boat on board.


Port Place Shopping Centre is shown On the Waterfront. Across the street from the Boat Basin, it features Thrifty Foods, London Drugs, a Medical Clinic, restaurants, and many clothing and accessory stores. Restaurant choices include:

  • The Well Public House – Located inside the Casino, open for breakfast and throughout the day offering great classic value pub options.
  • The Pantry Restaurant – Something for everyone at this family friendly restaurant with daily features plus discount days for seniors and families.

Below are other local malls with their major stores listed:

  • Newfoundland to Nanaimo – 90 Front Street – In the Boat Basin on the walkway – Offering local and Canadian souvenirs and gifts right on the waterfront walkway.
  • Commercial Street downtown Nanaimo – near Boat Basin – includes Red’s Bakery, Fitz Aveenue Night & Day, Guava Apparel, Archer and Arrow, Cold Front Gelato, Cayo Fashions, My Undies, Funk Revival, Quintessential, Flying Fish, NYLA Fresh Threads, Artzi Stuff, Fig Love Clothing
  • Country Club Centre 10 km north from Boat Basin: Best Buy, Shoppers Drug Mart, Save-On Foods
  • Nanaimo North Town Centre 12 km north of Boat Basin: Canadian Tire, London Drugs, Fairway Market
  • Woodgrove Centre 15 km north from Boat Basin: Hudson’s Bay, Wallmart, Chapters and a variety of retail stores, services and entertainment
  • Nanaimo Home Hardware 8 km north from Boat Basin 250-758-8220
  • Home Depot – 15 km north from Boat Basin – 250-390-9093
  • Arbutus Home Building Centre (Gabriola Is.) 250-247-8157
  • Rona 4 km south from Boat Basin 250-734-4450
  • BC Liquor Store 5 minute walk from Boat Basinin Port Place Mall 250-716-5205
  • Heritage Mews – Old City Quarter – a fifteen minute walk up Bastion Street from the Boat Basin


In addition to the restaurants shown On the Waterfront, there are many more within walking distance.

  • Gabriel’s Café 39 Commercial Street – Delicious Farm to table breakfast & lunch options at this popular spot. Fresh, sustainable & seasonal produce, daily specials, gluten free & plant based options.
  • Javawocky Coffee House – 90 Front Street near the Boat Basin Marina Office. Grab a hot coffee and freshly baked treat at this locally owned cozy café on the waterfront walkway. Sit inside or on the deck and take in the busy harbour, or take your drinks to go and enjoy a waterside walk.
  • Serious Coffee 60 Commercial Street – This Vancouver Island chain air-roasts its own beans locally. Snacks, treats seasonal & daily specials will compliment your favourite brew.
  • Bocca Cafe 427 Fitzwilliams – Cozy café in the Heritage Mews serving up all your favourite drinks alongside an array of eats and treats. Wheat free, gluten free and vegan options are plentiful.
  • Delicados 358 Wesley Street – Funky southwestern restaurant and deli with a fun atmosphere and authentic décor. Wholesome food made fresh daily including roll-ups, burritos, enchiladas and salads.
  • Mambo Gourmet Pizza – 16 Victoria Crescent – Family owned and operated for 25 years specializing in pan pizza with fresh ingredients prepared and cooked daily
  • The Breakfast Nook 366 Selby Street – Enjoy delicious home cooked all day breakfast and brunch at this cozy café which has daily specials and generous portions
  • Mon Petit Choux 101 Commercial Street – French style breakfast and lunch spot offering organic cafe fare along with breads and pastries baked on site. Eat in or take your treats home for later.
  • Melange 223 Commercial Street – Exciting, innovative, farm fresh food and an extensive drinks and cocktail menu are on offer at this unique local eatery. The creative menu includes a chef’s choice option for the adventurous foodie.
  • Mrs. Richies 199 Fraser Street – Long standing local spot for hearty family favourites with a global influence. Will you defeat the famous gigantic K2 Mountain Burger in under 30 minutes to get it free?
  • Milton Street Public House 247 Milton Street – Casual, neighbourhood style pub in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. Enjoy a snack or meal with your drink while relaxing in the laid-back atmosphere.
  • Nana Sushi 14 Victoria Crescent – Classic sushi rolls, japanese noodle soups & rice bowls in a cozy, laid back setting
  • Nanda Chicken 477 Wallace Street – Deep fried chicken with a Korean twist a short walk from the waterfront. Gluten free and vegetarian options available.
  • Sukkho Thai 123 Commercial Street – Try delicious, authentic Thai food including noodle and curry dishes in a pleasantly decorated setting. Shop front opens up in summer for fresh air flow.
  • Craft Fare 153 Commercial Street – Small scale taproom and eatery which showcases premium craft brews and comfort food in a welcoming and relaxing setting.
  • Cliffside Brewing 11 Cliff Street – Stop by to try this small scale bewery’s latest fresh batch. Stay for a snack and chat, or take a growler of your favourite home to enjoy.
  • Cambie Bar & Grill 63 Victoria Crescent – Historic space with brick walls and wood floors featuring local beers, live music and karaoke
  • Chick to Sea Express 150 Terminal – Fish and Chips, fried chicken and more. A small number of dine in seats available or take-away and enjoy on a seawall bench.
  • Carbonne Pizza 215 Terminal – Fresh ingredients from local farmer’s markets are used in this authentic Italian eatery. Choose from a wide selection of classic and unique pizzas or pasta dishes.
  • Ironworks Cafe & Creperie 200 Commercial Street -Made from scratch, sweet & savory crepes & fresh roasted coffee will entice you into this locally owned café. Delicious gluten free, keto and vegan batter options available.
  • The Vault Café 499 Wallace Street – This eclectic and cozy café and late night music venue offers breakfast fare and all-day options in a warm atmosphere.
  • The Occidental (OXY) Pub 432 Fitzwilliam St – Great food, drinks and good times at this longstanding casual pub. Locals go here for the food deals, karaoke and quiz nights.
  • The Nest Bistro 77 Skinner Street – Fresh, local and organic food with a French and Italian style. Enjoy the views of Mount Benson from this classy cliffside restaurant.
  • Gina’s Mexican Café 47 Skinner Street – You can’t miss Gina’s Mexican Café in the bright pink house on the hill. Fresh & tasty mexican specialities, including Margaritas, in a funky, family-friendly atmosphere.
  • La Stella Trattoria #1-321 Wesley Street N. – Trattoria style restaurant with wood fired pizza & home made gluten free pasta on offer in a classy but cozy atmosphere. Great for special occasions or date nights.
  • Asteras Greek Taverna 347 Wesley Street N. – Delightful heritage home setting for this authentic Greek restaurant known for its traditional food and warm hospitality.
  • New York Style Pizza 299 Wallace Street – A Nanaimo staple for over 30 years, home to authentic Italian style pizza and pasta, ribs and salad
  • Bistro Taiyo Japanese Restaurant 331 Wesley Street – Authentic Japanese Sushi and Izakaya restaurant. Known for their house-made ramen, rolls and traditional Izakaya (appetizer). Eat in or take-out.
  • Real Food Co. #3-321 Wesley Street N. – Fast food that’s good for you. Stop in for lunch and enjoy home cooked soups, sandwiches and baked goods made from all natural ingredients.
  • Firehouse Grill 7 Victoria Road – Industrial-chic bar/eatery in a historic building with creative sushi, Cajun Grill entrees, fusion sushi, signature cocktails, and craft beer.
  • Sealand Pho 101-1240 Stewart Ave. – Authentic, fresh and healthy Vietnamese cuisine overlooking the beautiful scenery of the marina, Newcastle passage and Saysutshun Island. In the summer months enjoy your delicious meal and a cool drink on the expansive rooftop patio.
  • Tandoori Junction 489 Wallace Street – Mouthwatering Indian inspired dishes made with fresh, local and seasonal produce. Buffet lunch available.
  • Top Notch Burgers 70 Church Street – Located inside the Dorchester Hotel, Top Notch serves up gormet burgers made with locally sourced meats including Bison. Relax and enjoy your food paired with a cocktail or local beer.
  • The View Oceanside Grill 70 Church Street – Specializing in fresh seafood and other delicious dishes made to order from locally sourced produce. The View Oceanside Grill is located next to Top Notch burgers in the Dorchester Hotel, and is the perfect setting for a special occasion or date night.
  • The Termnal Bar 63 Victoria Crescent – Lively pub / event venue in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. Features lineup of rotating BC brewed craft beers on tap as well as some of your favourite domestics.
  • Waterfront Confections 90 Front Street – In the Boat Basin on the Walkway – Ice cream and candy right on the waterfront all year round. Over 40 flavours of ice cream and gelato made fresh in store.
  • White Rabbit Coffee 321 Selby Street – Enjoy your favourite beverage and a snack while relaxing in this cozy community space within the old station building
  • Zalathai Thai Restaurant 22 Victoria Crescent – Family-owned establishment offering a variety of traditional Thai entrees in a laid-back atmosphere.this cozy community space within the old station building.



Water Taxi

Car Rental

The car/truck rental outlets nearest the waterfront are listed below. In addition, there are Enterprise, National, Discount national chains and Island Time RV Rentals and ACE Car Rentals.

Scooter Rental