It's easy to reach Vancouver Island from the mainland, from either Canada or the United States.
On B.C. Ferries
The extensive B.C. Ferries system connects the mainland with Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the islands lying to the north in the Strait of Georgia. The two major mainland departure points are located within a half-hour drive of Vancouver, south of the city at Tsawwassen (ferries to Swartz Bay, near Victoria, and to Nanaimo, north of Victoria), and northwest of the Vancouver urban area at Horseshoe Bay (ferries to Nanaimo). The ferries are spacious, car-carrying ships with cafeterias and dining rooms. Reservations are not taken for the 90-minute sailing between the mainland and Vancouver Island. Sailings are frequent: hourly during summer months, and several times each day in winter.
For information, call the following numbers:
888-BC FERRY (1-888-223-3779) from anywhere in North America
250-386-3431 from outside North America
BCF (*223) from your cell phone on Rogers or Telus Mobility Networks
Ferries are available from several points in Washington state, all sailing to Victoria's Inner Harbour:
Port Angeles to Victoria
The Black Ball ferry company operates a car ferry with several sailings per day, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from this town on the Olympic Peninsula. For information, call (360) 457-4491 (Port Angeles), or (250) 386-2202.
The Victoria Express is a ferry for foot passengers only. It operates from May to October. For information, call (250) 361-9144 (Victoria) or 800-633-1589.
Seattle to Victoria
The Victoria Clipper is a large catamaran boat which transports foot passengers from the downtown Seattle harbour to the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria. For information, call (206) 448-5000 or 800-888-2535 (Seattle), or (604) 382-8100. The Victoria Line transports foot passengers and vehicles from May to September. The ship provides an old-fashioned experience on a ship of a certain age. For information, call (206) 625-1880 or 800-668-1167 (Seattle), or (250) 480-5555 (Victoria).
Bellingham to Victoria
The Gray Line ferry takes foot passengers only across the Gulf of Georgia to Victoria, from this city between Seattle and the Canadian border, operating from June to October. For information, call (360) 738-8099 (Bellingham), or 800-443-4552 (U.S. and Canada).
Once on Vancouver Island, it's easy to find your way on the provincial highways. The route from the southern ferry terminal at Swartz Bay to Victoria is Highway 17. A single road runs the entire length of the island, from Victoria to Port Hardy. This highway (locally called the Island Highway) has two numbers. The southern portion, between Victoria and Nanaimo (70 miles, 113 km), is part of the Trans-Canada Highway system and is designated Highway 1. The rest of the route (243 miles, 391 km) between Nanaimo and Port Hardy, is Highway 19.
Pacific Rim National Park, and the West Coast communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, are reached by taking Highway 4 from Parksville. 91 miles (147 km) north of Victoria.
While there are busses which run to the major communities and attractions such as Pacific Rim National Park, along the Island Highway and Highway 4, the vast majority of visitors to Vancouver Island use their cars and RVs to get around. For those interested in natural places and exploring wilderness, a vehicle is almost essential to reach the more remote areas covered here. Should you wish to fly to Seattle, Vancouver, or Victoria, rental cars are available in downtown Victoria through the usual agencies.
For private campgrounds in the area, Go Here.
a hotel or suite in B.C.
in the U.S. and Canada
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