HOW TO GET TO VANCOUVER ISLAND: SEAPLANE OR FERRY?

Vancouver Island is a beautiful destination and must be visited during your time in Vancouver. But how do you get there? There is the most popular option of taking the ferry from 2 ports on the mainland to 3 ports on Vancouver Island. Or to really take in the beauty of the islands and a once in a lifetime opportunity spend the bit extra to take the seaplan over.

FERRY

View from ferry on arrival to Swartz Bay

There are lots of options to get a ferry to Vancouver Island. The ferries are operated by BC ferries, and accept both foot passengers and cars. The main ports from Vancouver are Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay. The ports onto Main Vancouver Island are Swartz Bay, Duke Point and Departure Bay.

Cost: Adult $17.20/ Standard car $57.50

Buying Tickets : We bought ours at the terminal. We arrived 45mins before the departure time to ensure we got tickets.

On the ferry: If you bought a car, you can choose to remain in your car or you can go up to the deck to enjoy the views.

1. Vancouver – Victoria (Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay)

View of Victoria and Swartz bay from the ferry

Schedule: 7am – 9pm, almost every hour

Trip time: 1hr 35 min

Getting to the ports:

From Vancouver – To Tsawwassen Terminal

  • Public Transport: about 1 hour – Bus 980 (Waterfront to Bridgeport) + Bus 620 (Bridgeport to Tsawwassen) – [fare](http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Single-Fares.aspx) is $2.75
  • Drive: 35min to 65min – Beware of Vancouver Traffic. Leave with plenty of time

We were planning on catching the 7pm. ferry to Vancouver Island. What should have been a 1-hour drive to Twassassen Ferry became 2 hours as we hit Vancouver’s dreaded peak hour traffic. There were so many road jams not to mention a bridge that had been closed but no sign to say so so everyone was waiting for the barrier to come up so we could cross. And of course in Vancouver spirit it rained the whole time 🙂

From Swartz Bay Terminal – To Victoria

  • Public Transport: about 1hour – Bus 70/71/75 – [fare](https://bctransit.com/victoria/fares) is $2.50 per ride
  • Drive: about 30mins – Highway 1 onto Highway 17

2. West Vancouver-Nanaimo (Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay)

Horseshoe Bay terminal

Schedule: Almost every 2 hours from 6:30am to 9pm

Trip Time: 1hr 40min

Getting to the ports:

From Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay Terminal

  • Public Transport: about 35mins – Bus 250/253/257 – [fare](http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Single-Fares.aspx) is $2.75
  • Drive: about 20mins – Bus 250/253/257

From Departure Bay Terminal – To Nanaimo

  • Public Transport: about 10mins – Bus 20 – [fare](https://bctransit.com/nanaimo/fares) $2.50
  • Drive: about 10 mins

3. Vancouver-Nanaimo (Tsawwassen-Duke Point)

Ferry from the front of the boat

Schedule: Every 2.5 hours from 5:15am to 10:45pm (Check Sat & Sun times)

Trip time: 2 hour

Getting to the ports:

From Vancouver – To Tsawwassen Terminal

  • Public Transport: about 1 hour – Bus 980 (Waterfront to Bridgeport) + Bus 620 (Bridgeport to Tsawwassen)
  • Drive: 35min to 65min – Beware of Vancouver Traffic. Leave with plenty of time

From Duke Point Terminal to Nanaimo

  • Public Transport: no public transport
  • Drive: about 15-20 min – Highway 1 onto Highway 19

SEAPLANE

View of Vancouver seaplane terminal next to Stanley park

Take off from the water, fly high to take in unrivalled views of the islands of Vancouver Island and touch down into the bay of Victoria. Getting to Vancouver Island via seaplane is a unique and amazing experience. It is also faster and more convenient way to get to Victoria than the ferry.

Getting the seaplane over gave us the opportunity to be able to see all the islands and get a panoramic bird’s eye view.We took the seaplane over to Vancouver Island and then the ferry back.

There are two main seaplane companies in Vancouver – Harbour Air Seaplane and Seair Seaplane.

Harbour Air on arrival at Victoria terminal

We used Harbour Air from South Vancouver to get to Victoria. We caught the flight at 5:45pm – 6:15pm on sale for $75 each. The staff were super friendly and overall we would recommend the experience to everyone wanting to visit Vancouver Island.

Selfie on the seaplane after landing

We flew on the DHC-3 Otter. The plane was small and only fit about 14 people. We were given a quick safety run through and told to put on our seatbelts. Some others had luggage which was stowed by the crewmembers. Because the plane is so small we were able to sit closest to the cockpit and watch the pilot do his thing. It was also very loud inside. It was awesome being able to look out and just see the water within arms reach and then lifting off into the sky. The windows are small but we were still able to get good views. Fortunately, we are both short because it is quite cramped between the seats. The plane wasn’t full so it meant everyone could stretch out a little.

1. South Vancouver (YVR) – Victoria

View after takeoff at South Vancouver terminal

Flight times: Mon-Fri: 7:20/8:20/10:20/12:20/3:20/5:20 & Sat/Sun: 10:20am/12:30pm/5:45pm

Cost: from $89CAD per adult

Travel time: 30 min

Getting to the ports:

Getting to South Vancouver (YVR) port from Vancouver

  • Drive: about 40 min (from Vancouver)
  • Public Transport: Bus 980 + Bus C92 – fare is $2.75
  • Airport Pickup: Free – Let them know and they will come pick you up in their shuttle

Downtown Victoria from Victoria Harbour Air terminal

  • Walk 5 mins to Downtown Victoria

2. Other locations include

  • South Vancouver (YVR) – Nanaimo
  • Vancouver – Victoria
  • Vancouver – Nanaimo
  • Pitt Meadows – Victoria

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