Last Updated on November 8, 2020
If you’re visiting Vancouver, BC you’ll want to get off the mainland and explore the surrounding islands, but how do you do that? Ferry service.
There are a couple of options when you want to get off the mainland of Vancouver and explore one of the many islands. On our latest trip within British Columbia, we took a staycation and explored Vancouver Island, leaving from the Tsawwassen terminal and arriving at the Victoria Swartz Bay terminal, to begin the Vancouver Island journey. Hop on the ferry and you’ll soon find yourself on island time.
BC Ferries is the main option when you want to visit any of the surrounding islands; you can simply walk on, or pay the extra to take your car. You could also take a float plane ride, which we admit is fun too, if weather permits. BC Ferries have sailings 365 days a year, and depending on your route and size of the ferry, the more on-board options you will find. Gift shops, restaurants (possibly a BC famous White Spot), coffee shops, wi-fi and lounges, there’s plenty of options to enjoy a bite to eat and relax while you sail away.
What you should consider when you’re using the BC Ferries:
1. Check out the ferry service routes and know your options.
You can find the schedules here. You can also find the information on fares here. Know that you’ll probably think the costs are more expensive than they should be, especially if you’re doing a “staycation”. We hear that a lot, but BC Ferries really have your hands tied with this one.
2. Make a reservation
We suggest you make a reservation, if at all possible, for any ferry service. Otherwise, you’re left waiting in a line until there is a spot for you during the busy sailings. You may end up not needing the reservation, but it is better to be safe than sorry. We haven’t always needed the reservation we made, but we would rather know we have a spot on the ferry than having to wait until a sailing can take us; especially with three kids under five now. Making a reservation also means you have to be at the ferry by a specific time, if you miss your reservation, you’ll have to wait in line.
3. Cabins may be available for a small fee
Cabins aboard Queen of Nanaimo can be rented for sailings between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands. If you need a little extra space, for just $15 per sailing, you’ll get a room that is located on the sundeck, that includes comfortable seating for up to four people and a private bathroom. They are furnished with a desk and chair, settee, arm chair, and coffee table. If you have small kids, or need to get some work done, this could be a life saver for you. Reserve in advance.
Take a look at just how beautiful the scenery is during the ride to Vancouver Island (Victoria):
Taking a ferry is a real highlight for kids and with all the options available and beautiful scenery during the ride, it can be a great adventure for adults too. If you’re lucky, you may also have a whale sighting or spot some porpoises swimming by.
Taking a BC Ferry may be one of the only options when you want to get a sense of the real BC beyond downtown Vancouver. Luckily, it is a comfortable option and you can’t beat all the pretty sights you’ll witness on the journey. British Columbia really is beautiful!