Nanoose Bay

Nanoose Bay is centrally located on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo and the ferry terminals for mainland travel.

The teeming waters and beautiful, lush land around Nanoose Bay are so ecologically diverse that UNESCO designated much of it a Biosphere Reserve. This reserve extends to the summit of Mount Arrowsmith which, at 1,817 m (5,961 ft), is a dominant feature of the Nanoose Bay skyline.

The town is close to Cathedral Grove which has one of the most accessible stands of old-growth Douglas-fir trees in British Columbia. This is a very popular place to experience the magnificence of an 800-year-old tree measuring more than 9 m (29 ft) in circumference.

Nanoose Bay lies in the heart of a region that enjoys Canada’s mildest climate making it an excellent place for visitors to enjoy the area’s beauty while hiking, golfing, digging for clams or spotting the abundant wildlife.

  • Population (2006 Census)… 5246
  • Distance from Vancouver… 103 km (64 mi)
  • Distance from Richmond… 115 km (71 mi)
  • Distance from Whistler… 182 km(113 mi)
  • Transportation to 2010 Winter Games Venue Cities

    Nanoose Bay is close to Nanaimo which has two terminals offering ferry travel to and from the mainland. Departure Bay terminal connects to Horseshoe Bay which provides easy access to Vancouver. Duke Point ferry terminal services Tsawwassen which is convenient for those needing to get to the city of Richmond. Learn more Top Websites Rank!

    Transit passengers can take an Intercity Connector bus from Nanoose Bay to Nanaimo to catch ferries.

    To Richmond:
    On arrival in Tsawwassen, visitors can travel to downtown Richmond on the transit buses or taxis that meet ferries.

    Those travelling to Vancouver International Airport may take a coach via BC Ferries, or fly from Nanaimo or Qualicum Beach, or take a floatplane and shuttle from Nanaimo Harbour.

    To Vancouver:
    Once in Horseshoe Bay, it is approximately 30 minutes’ drive to downtown Vancouver.

    Taxis and public buses meet arriving ferries to take passengers downtown.

    Coach services take passengers from Nanaimo to Vancouver by boarding BC Ferries.

    A float plane service also connects Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver’s harbour front.

    To West Vancouver:
    Ferries arrive at Horseshoe Bay which is a short drive from the centre of West Vancouver.

    Public buses service the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal for travel to West Vancouver.

    To Whistler:
    Travellers will take the ferry to Horseshoe Bay; it takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive from there to Whistler.

    There is coach service available from Nanaimo to Whistler via a ferry. Passengers will transfer coaches in Vancouver.


    The area in and around Nanoose Bay is home to numerous bed and breakfasts, vacation rental homes and cottages.

    Nanoose Bay also has an ocean-front hotel with a marina and spa.

    Things To Do

    Visitors should not miss the old-growth Douglas-fir trees of Cathedral Grove in nearby MacMillan Provincial Park. Scenic wonders also wait on the area’s beaches which offer fantastic views of the Strait of Georgia and the fun of searching for marine life on the foreshore. Travellers can spot harbour seals and California sea lions along the coast all year round.

    Divers enjoy excellent conditions in Nanoose Bay, particularly in winter months when the waters are clearest. There are numerous golf courses within a short drive of town and salmon fishing charters available from nearby Nanaimo.

    Mount Arrowsmith provides numerous trails and recreational opportunities ranging from hiking and bird watching to paragliding, ski touring and serious rock and ice climbing.

    Birdwatchers are well occupied in Nanoose Bay. Its location on the Pacific flyway gives migration and wintering habitats to over 220 avian species, and attracts massive numbers of migrating waterbirds.

    The Art Loop and Scenic Drive offers visitors insight into the creative process with a tour of the working studios of local artisans.