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Until you visit Vancouver Island, it's hard to imagine just how much this slice of British Columbia has to offer. You could spend months touring around Van Isle and still not get to see everything, so it's important that you plan your trip well! Using Nanaimo as your central Vancouver Island base camp is a great start to any VI visit. Nanaimo's centralized and yet coastal location with excellent road links means that this is the best linked town on the whole of the island, and one of the easiest to get to from mainland B.C (Vancouver) too. Connected via two vehicle ferry routes from the Vancouver City area, BC Ferries operates these passenger and vehicle ferries regularly to Nanaimo from both Horseshoe Bay (north of Vancouver) and Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver). Bringing your car with you means you can really enjoy all that Vancouver Island has to offer, though if you prefer not to you can travel on foot, by bicycle or on Greyhound Canada bus from downtown Vancouver straight to Nanaimo. You then have the option of renting a car from the city, hooking up with other backpackers or arrange carpooling on arrival. The great choice of accommodation in Nanaimo is another reason why this makes an excellent base camp. One of the most popular and social options is the Painted Turtle Guesthouse which boasts a large communal great room and kitchen, so guests really get to know each other - they share travel tips, arrange group trips and get to know other travellers from around the world. In the city, on the days when you're not out exploring the rest of Vancouver Island you can make use of the many shops and restaurants in the city too. There is the area directly around the Painted Turtle Guesthouse, which is just a block from the waterfront and boasts many unique shops, art galleries and boutiques and awesome places to grab a bite to eat! From Nanaimo, head south and you can reach the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, in about 90 minutes, making this an ideal day trip. Victoria has some wonderful buildings to visit, gardens and much more. Half way down the coast to Victoria is access to the Lake Cowichan and Cowichan Valley area, a popular and scenic spot, while to the north of Nanaimo are towns such as Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River. Just a short drive south is Chemainus, famous for its many murals. Vancouver Island's west coast is easily accessible from Nanaimo too. This scenic area has many Provincial Parks to explore. The large Strathcona Provincial Park, in the centre of Vancouver Island, is also within easy reach of Nanaimo. Check out our blog site for other articles about different areas of Vancouver Island including Tofino, Port Hardy, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Ucluelet and much more! If you have any questions about visiting Vancouver Island, post them here - we will be happy to answer them for you!