Known as the "Harbour City" for its incredible downtown harbour, Nanaimo is the second largest city on the Island and offers guests a myriad of activities and attractions.Acknowledged by professionals as one of the best diving locations in North America, the waters around Nanaimo cater to divers of all skill levels. Snake Island became the site for one of Canada’s newest artificial reefs, a remarkable dive setting, when the 111.5-m (366-ft) HMCS Saskatchewan was sunk in a 1997 project sanctioned by the Cousteau Society. Cameras are a must with the amazing array of sea life residing in the area around the reef. The world’s largest octopus on record was found here, and huge tubeworms range in colours from stunning orange to turquoise. Visit Nanaimo during the last weekend of July, and join the locals in celebrating the weeklong Marine Festival with the locals. Since 1967, Nanaimo has been host to the Great Race - that bathtub race that is! Each year contestants participate in the time-honored "Sacrifice to the Bathtub Gods" boat burning ceremony the evening before the race. The following day, racers head out from Nanaimo Harbour, around Entrance and Winchelsea Islands, and finish at Departure Bay. Other highlights of the Marine Festival include street markets, a parade, and the Festival of Lights & Music fireworks display.
Nanaimo is located on Highway 19, 111 km (69 mi.) northwest of Victoria. Commercial airlines and bus lines both service the city, while BC Ferries depart regularly from Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay ferry terminals in Vancouver, and dock in Nanaimo. Population: 76,173 Elevation: 30 m (98 ft.) Average July Temperature: 18ºC (64ºF) Average January Temperature: 2ºC (36ºF) Annual Rainfall: 105 cm (41 in.) Annual Snowfall: 93 cm (37 in.)