Chemainus is a quaint, seaside village located next to central Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley. The area features giant, old-growth Douglas fir trees and long stretches of pristine, white, sandy beaches. Visitors to Chemainus can see a huge variety of bird species and take advantage of some of the best deep sea diving on Vancouver Island.

Once a rough-and-tumble mill town, Chemainus now boasts a world-class theatre, a variety of interesting shops and galleries, and the most impressive display of outdoor art in British Columbia. 40 murals and more than 13 sculptures adorn the buildings and walkways of its charming downtown.

  • Population… 4,500
  • Distance from Vancouver… 93km (58mi)
  • Distance from Richmond… 86km (53mi)
  • Distance from Whistler… 196km (122mi)

Transportation to 2010 Winter Games Venue Cities

Chemainus is connected to the British Columbia mainland by car and passenger ferries from Nanaimo into Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, and Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver.

To Richmond:
Passengers will depart Nanaimo’s Duke Point and arrive at Tsawwassen where transit buses and taxis offer service into Richmond.

Selected BC Ferries departing Vancouver Island sell coach tickets on board for transport into Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport. Learn more at

To Vancouver:
Travellers can take BC Ferries arriving in either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen where transit buses and taxis offer transport into downtown Vancouver.

Selected BC Ferries departing Vancouver Island sell tickets on board to connect passengers into downtown Vancouver via motor coach.

To West Vancouver:
Passengers will travel to Vancouver then either drive or take a public bus to West Vancouver.

To Whistler:
Passengers will take a BC Ferry to Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay and can then either drive the two hours to Whistler or take a Greyhound coach.


Chemainus is noted for its bed and breakfast-style accommodations. Numerous Victorian-style and heritage properties have been transformed into quaint B&Bs. Visitors can choose from properties with riding stables and small farms, river frontage or access to parks and old-growth forests.

Chemainus also offers a modern suite hotel adjacent to the 18-hole golf course.

Things To Do

Chemainus is one of the world’s biggest outdoor art galleries with 40 murals for visitors to see by following the trail of yellow footprints. Kids will enjoy searching Waterwheel Park for its five hidden animal carvings.

Enjoy the fresh island air on the golf course or while exploring the numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. Wildlife fans should look out for bald eagles or marine life at low tide while strolling the beaches.

The area’s waters are clearest in winter and divers may encounter Giant Pacific Octopus, Wolf eels, seals and sea lions, while taking a guided tour of the world’s only intentionally created aircraft artificial reef.

Visitors who enjoy live theatre can check out what’s on at the Chemainus Theatre Festival which offers live theatre productions, performance events and a gift shop stocked with local art and crafts.

Shoppers will enjoy the charm of the downtown stores’ quaint and colourful heritage houses, picket fences and hanging flower baskets. Specialities of the area include antiques, art, pottery, clothing and collectibles.