A most scenic and beautiful way to view Vancouver Island is by train. Check out www.viarail.ca for schedules as there are only a couple of times a day that the train runs from Victoria to Courtenay and stopping at the town/cities between these two points.
The ferry from Vancouver leaves from Tsawassen and after a leisurely "cruise" of around 2 hours you arrive in Swartz Bay.
The cost was $44.00 each way for our hire car and two adults, or you "can walk on" with no car for around $9.00 per person each way.
There is a bus service available at Swartz Bay that will transport you to Victoria. We found that the car gave us so much flexability to get around and see everything that we wanted to without being rushed by a tight bus schedule.
We chose the late ferry back and enjoyed dinner in the "stern restaurant."
The BC Ferry system is awesome. Altho I had to ride in the RV and not up top...it was fun. Its cheap...the staff is friendly and the views are great. we took 4 ferries total,With an RV and it wound up being about $150 US
TOTAL..we hopped ports along the Sunshine Coast...over to Vancouver Island and back to Port Angeles, WA.
The prime mode of transportation to Vancouver Island are the BC Ferries. The Ferries leave Tsawassen and Horseshoe Bay on the mainland, and will take you to either Duke Point, Departure Bay, or Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. The cost of the Ferry is between $50 and $70 CAD, depending on the size of your vehicle, and the number of occupants.
A good way to discover Vancouver Island is a car. I have rented a car from Vancouver Airport. From here you can take the BC Ferrie to Vancouver Island.