BC Ferries operates a fleet of 40 ferries on 26 different coastal routes, serving 42 ports. These ferries are run by the Province of British Columbia as extension of the provincial highway network. The crossing between Vancouver Island and the Mainland typically takes 90 to 120 minutes. Trips between Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast are are around 30 minutes.
BC Ferries between Mainland and Vancouver Island
From Vancouver, there are two key ferry terminals: Tsawwassen (38 km south of Vancouver) and Horseshoe Bay (west end of Highway 1 via West Vancouver). From Tsawwassen, you can connect to Swartz Bay (for Victoria), Duke Point (for Nanaimo) and the Gulf Islands. From Horseshoe Bay, you can go to Duke Point/Nanaimo, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast. From Swartz Bay, you can take a short drive southwest to ferry from Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay, across the Saanich Inlet, to get to the southern part of Vancouver Island quickly.
From the Island, there are two main departure points: Swartz Bay and Duke Point/Nanaimo.From Swartz Bay (north of Victoria) you connect to Tsawwassen, and at Nanaimo you can connect to the Sunshine Coast and Horseshoe Bay. You can also ferry from Comox, 100 km to the north of Nanaimo, to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast.
Services on ferries is on a first-come-first-served basis. For some routes, you can phone ahead and get Assured Loading Tickets to ensure boarding for a
particular sailing (the $15 fee is non-refundable).
Consider getting a CirclePac discount package that can save vacationers money on a 4-route trip (Mainland to Island to & from a Gulf Island and return)
- Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay (West Vancouver-Nanaimo)
- Tsawwassen-Duke Point (Vancouver-Nanaimo)
- Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay (Vancouver-Victoria)
- Fares (vary by time of day)
Fares for a car with two adult passengers (Priced separately) between Vancouver & Victoria (or Vancovuer & Nanaimo) can run $70, and for a family of 4 $83 each way (2008).
Call BC Ferries for pricing and schedules 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-233-3779) and in Victoria (250) 386-3431.
BC Ferries Routes
BC Ferries operates on the following routes between the Mainland and Vancouver Island:
|Horseshoe Bay – Bowen Island||20 minutes||every hour|
|Horseshoe Bay – Langdale (to Sunshine Coast)||40 minutes||every 2 hours|
|Horseshoe Bay – Duke Point (Nanaimo)||1 hr 35 min||every 2.5 hours|
|Tsawwassen – Duke Point (Nanaimo)||2 hours||every 2.5 hours|
|Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay (Victoria)||1 hr 35 min||every 2 hours|
|Brentwood Bay – Mill Bay||25 min||every 1hr 10 min|
|Duke Point (Nanaimo) – Gabriola Island||20 min||every 1 hour|
|Comox – Powell River||1 hr 15 min||every 3 hrs 45 min|
|Texada Island – Powell River||35 min||every 1.5 hours|
|Sechelt – Powell River||50 min||every 2 hours|
Ferry routes generally run a more frequent schedule during the busy summer months.
BC Ferries to Gulf Islands
BC Ferries also provides ferry connections to the southern Gulf Islands, close to Victoria. Departures from the Island are (from south to north) from Swartz Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, and Nanaimo. From the Mainland, ferries leave from Tsawwassen and from Horseshoe Bay.
Here are the Islands and their departure points (from south to north):
|Mayne Island||Village Bay||Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay|
|Pender Island||Otter Bay||Swartz Bay*|
|Saturna Island||Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay|
|Galiano Island||Sturdies Bay||Tsawwassen*, Swartz Bay|
|Saltspring Island||Fulford Harbour||Swartz Bay*|
|Long Harbour||Tsawwassen*, Swartz Bay|
Islands marked * are serviced direct ferries from the departure points. There are several points to get to the various Gulf Islands (from south to north):
Sidney connects to Sidney Island, or Washington State Ferries to their San Juan Islands.
Some ferry rules:
- Ticket sales end 10 minutes before departure time for passengers and 5 minutes prior for vehicles
- Children under 12 must travel with their parents
- Pets must remain in vehicle on a leash on the vehicle decks. They are not allowed above the car decks.
- Special fares and fare discounts need to be computed and paid at point of departure. Any discrepancies need to be resolved before departure.
- Passengers may be refused if under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who’s behaviour is objectionable, unsafe, or unlawful.
- Vehicles may be refused if deemed in unsafe condition or if carrying prohibited materials (the number of propane tanks and gas tanks may be limited).
- Some ferry times are reserved for dangerous cargo sailings (no passengers), typically on Wednesdays.
- Commercial vehicles (over 5,500 kg) can make reservations on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen and Duke Point-Tsawwassen, and Horseshoe Bay-Langdale routes (fax to 1/800/223/5288)
Ferries to the USA
Travellers should check out the rules for entering Canada and the USA.
The M.V. Coho Victoria to Port Angeles
A passenger and vehicle ferry service connecting Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington is operated year-round using the M.V. Coho. The boat is 341 feet (100 metres) long and can handle 100 vehicles and 1000 passengers. Port Angeles is on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula and is connected by highway to Olympia (181 km), and Tacoma (170 km) and by short ferry ride across Puget Sound to Seattle (60 km by ferry, 230 km via Tacoma).
The ferry leaves from Victoria’s Inner Harbour (beside the Wax Museum), where passengers pre-clear US Customs when departing, or clear Canadian customs when arriving. For information, call 250-386-2202.
Washington State Ferries Sidney, BC to Anacortes & San Juan Islands
Washington State provides ferry service to its San Juan Islands, just east of Victoria. These ferries leave from Sidney (north of Victoria) and connect to Anacortes on the Mainland north of Seattle, and to Friday Harbour on the islands. The trip to Anacortes is 3 hours, with a stop at Friday harbour about half-way. Ferries leave twice a day at 12:20 pm and at 7:35 pm.
Washington State Ferries also provide the ferry connections across the Puget Sound, connecting the Olympic Peninsula with the rest of the Mainland, for those who are taking the MV Coho to Port Angeles.
For info call 1-888-808-7977 (Washington only) or 206-464-6400.
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