BC Ferries, Victoria
Because of advice from a relative, who for decades worked as a pilot on an American ferry line from Washington to Vancouver Island, we have always taken the BC ferries to Vancouver Island. Our relative told us that the American lines are no good, and I have since heard the same opinion from others who took them. Apparently, they are slow, very infrequent, and the service is not that good. The BC ferries, operating from Tsawassen south-west of Vancouver, and Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, operate very frequently, they are pretty fast but not too fast, they are clean, modern, and comfortable, and they offer good services.
BC Ferries serve a popular route for visitors travelling between Victoria and Vancouver. The closest terminal from Victoria is actually north of the city in Swartz Bay. From there you can take the ferry to Tsawwassen, which is just south of Vancouver. Vehicles are allowed on these BC ferries. The cost for a vehicle and driver is $44-$46 depending on the day of the week, and $10.25 per passenger. The ferries run once every hour or two hours depending on the day of the week. Check their web site for detailed schedule and fare information.
If you're coming to Victoria from "up island" (or leaving Victoria and travelling up island), consider taking the Mill Bay Ferry instead of the Malahat Highway. The Mill Bay Ferry is a small, vehicle and passenger ferry that runs from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay (on the Saanich Peninsula), allowing drivers and other travelers to skip the slow-moving, dangerous Malahat highway. Your fare will be collected by the crew aboard the ship (cash and travellers cheques only) and the trip only takes about thirty minutes. The drive from Brentwood Bay into Victoria is beautiful and takes you through scenic Saanich farms and rural areas.
The food aboard BC Ferries can, in general, only be described as crap. In the cafeteria I would suggest getting a bowl of soup... apparently the White Spot burgers don't compare to the real thing. Also, if you order a kids meal you get some pudding, which is probably the healthiest part of the meal.
The only exception is the Pacific Buffet breakfast. For only $11 you get unlimited breakfast treats with the nicest view and quietest seating on the boat. You can toast your own waffles (add strawberries and whipped cream) and toast and have some oatmeal, then go back for eggs, sausages, squash, muffins and danishes. There is lots of tea, coffee and juice as well.
For lunch the buffet serves a more expensive salad bar, and for dinner they do a roast. I personally don't like either idea so I haven't tried it, but unless that sounds really appealing to you (and worth $15 or more), consider eating breakfast in the buffet and packing any other meal you might want to eat while aboard.
Not sure why BC Ferries charge for both the vehicle and for each passenger in your vehicle, but that's the way it is. The ferry is nice and comfortable. Most people are respectful (except for the group of teenagers on my return trip). Gift shop personnel weren't very friendly, but I suppose they deal with lots of personalities all day long. Beautiful scenery.
BC Ferries are the easy way to go to Victoria. Buses leave from the main bus depot every hour.
The bus ride to the ferry terminal takes about 3/4 hour if I remember right.
The bus takes you to the bus terminal at Victoria which is only a street away from the inner harbour, the parliament building, Empress Hotel and the mueseum. Talk about everything being within walking distance.
To return to mainland from Victoria, I drove along the scenic coastal drive to Swartz Bay. The drive was approximately 1 hour. Give yourself at least 20 min for the wait at terminal (photo shows ferry terminal at Swartz Bay where cars line up to board.) B.C. Ferry runs between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen Bay (Vancouver side) about every other hour. In the summer you may not always get the first sail due to the high number of tourists, but B.C. ferry will add extra sails if needed. The ferry ride was fun, especially when we made those sharp turns around the many small islands crossing the Strait of Georgia.
The best way to get to Vancouver Island and Victoria is with the B.C. Ferry.
You can go from Tsawwasen (about 20 km' south of Vancouver) to Shwarts Bay (about 20 km' north of Victoria) or from Horseshoe Bay (just north of Vancouver) to Nanaimo (40 km' north of Victoria).
The sail itself takes about one and a half hour, but the whole trip door to door takes about 3 hours.
In the high season you better be at the departure point more then half an hour before departure, or call them and reservr a place (for your car). It cost a bit more, but you won't remain on shore
Frequent daily scheduled service is provided (passengers and all types of vehicles) between Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) and Swartz Bay (north of Victoria), between Tsawwassen and Duke Point (south of Nanaimo) and between Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) and Departure Bay (Nanaimo). BC Ferries also serves the Gulf Islands and other ports in coastal BC. Buffet and/or full cafeteria service as well as other amenities are found on main-route ships.
Bus and ferry service from Vancouver to Victoria. There is a tour service running the whole distance but it is cheaper to use the normal city transport on both sides of the ferry trip. It takes a bit longer but you get to see a bit more of Vancouver and the trip from the ferry terminal to Victoria. If time is not an issue, think about it. Alternatively, fly a float plane from downtown Van to downtown Victoria. Stunning view of the islands in the Georgia Strait!
Bus, legs, rent a scooter or be peddaled around behind a fit guide on a tricyle. Horse tours also available... your call! Just have fun!
Well being on Vancouver's Island, you dont really have a choice, either take a flight or swim! lol no I mean take the ferry.
Downtown is easily walked.
The bus goes almost everywhere, so you shouldnt hesitate to take the bus, if not, take a cab to head out to other communities.
Being an island, Vancouver Island lends itself to only two ways of reaching it--by air or water. If not flying directly in, one will have to take the ferry from somewhere. However, the ferry offers some spectacular scenery, so it can be a great way to get a feel for the West Coast. The picture attached was taken on the ferry. There are convenient bus routes from Vancouver to Victoria centre. Price includes ferry fare, and drops you right into the city. Ask at toursit info spots for details.
Same as most places--bus, bike, feet, car, taxi. But I like feet the best!
' Welcome aboard BC Ferries! Our sailing time to...' My personal preference is for the Spirit of British Columbia, although the Queen of Saanich has been nicely refurbished. The Spirit of Vancouver Island has the Lantern Coffee Bar, but for some unknown reason, they've turned all the seats to face the same way and this is quite a barrier to getting a good hour and a half of sleep on the way over. Of course, it you've never been before, the trip across is absolutely gorgeous and should not be missed; however, 'passengers on the outside decks should be warned, the ship's whistle will sound.' One word of advice, stay away from the Sunshine Breakfast.
Victoria is proud to enhance it's image as being 'more English than the English' by recently purchasing several double-decker buses for use on public routes. The city has always had double-decker tour buses, but now you can travel in style from downtown to the ferry terminal in the luxury of a two-storey motor vehicle!
If you are not flying, the best mode of transport is the B.C. Ferries. During the summer they run every hour, please go to the web site below for the schedule.
You can fly to Victoria on many different airlines, or you can take a ferry there from Vancouver (either walk on or drive on). The ferry is a wonderful way to get to the Island but will not take you right in to Victoria (unless you are arriving from Seattle). You will need to arrange for transportation from the ferry to Victoria. For $28 CDN you can catch a bus from downtown Vancouver, ride the ferry, and catch a bus to downtown Victoria. I think that is a rather good deal with minimal stress.
We were lucky enough to have a convertible to drive around in - perfect for the weather we experienced. Much of Victoria can be seen on foot, but you will need to take a tour bus or drive to Butchart Gardens.