Over the years I’ve learned that Victoria BC, and Vancouver Island in general, can be a bit of a tricky place to get to. And get away from. There are a lot of options for how you can get on and off the island. So I thought I’d note the various ways that I know of here. On the off chance someone finds it helpful. I’ve tried to flag each place I mention on the map. If you know of another way, or have info that should go here, put it in the comments please. Thanks!
— Take The Bridge!
Sorry, no. There’s no bridge. Which is how we here on the island like it.
— BC Ferries
Lots of options here! Your two main ports for arriving on the island are Swartz Bay and Duke Point.
- Generally the cheapest way on/off the island (not to say it’s actually cheap though).
- Ferries carry cars and/or walk-on passengers.
- Public transit can easily get you to the main ferry terminals.
- When driving during peak season watch out for full sailings.
- Bonus: The scenery from on-board ferries is beautiful. It’s my favourite way to arrive on the island!
- Official site: http://www.bcferries.com/
I should mention here that using public transit to get between any combination of Victoria, the BC Ferry, Vancouver Airport (YVR), or downtown Vancouver is very easy.
- On the Victoria side, bus #70, 72, 76 or 81 all go between the ferry terminal and downtown.
- On the Vancouver side, bus #620 goes between Bridgeport and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. From Bridgeport, the Sky Train takes you straight to YVR or downtown. Easy!
- Vancouver public transit official site: http://www.translink.ca/
- Victoria public transit official site: http://bctransit.com/regions/vic/
— Anacortes Ferry (Washington State)
If you’re coming from Washington state and don’t want to drive up to Vancouver, then you have 3 ferry choices. This one is run by Washington Department of Transportation and leaves from Anacortes, WA.
— Coho Ferry (Port Angeles, Washington State)
Another option if you’re coming up from Washington is to take the Coho (Black Ball) which runs out of Port Angeles, WA. This ferry ride is more boring than the others, but it’s a great time saver if you’re coming up highway 101.
- Coho carries cars and/or walk-on passengers.
- Arrives right downtown Victoria in the inner harbour.
- Official site: http://www.cohoferry.com/main/
— Clipper (Seattle, WA)
The Clipper runs between downtown Seattle (pier 69) and downtown Victoria. They sometimes also have good sales and package deals, so checking their site may payoff.
- Walk-on passengers only.
- More expensive than other ferries. The price in some cases might well be worth it for how convenient the terminals are.
- Kind of a cool ship.
- Official site: http://www.clippervacations.com/ferry/
For people with some cash to splash that want a cooler way to arrive. Helijet runs a passenger helicopter service from Vancouver (airport or downtown) to downtown Victoria.
- Depending on season, might not be as expensive as you think.
- Official site: http://www.helijet.com/
- Great if you need to impress.
— Float Planes
There are a couple companies running flights between various spots. The most common routes are between downtown Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle. They certainly all serve other locations also though. Such as Nanaimo, Duncan, Richmond, and Saltspring Island. I think you can also get to Whistler via Harbour Air. There are 2 major companies:
- Harbour Air. My personal favourite as they’re easily the friendliest airline I’ve ever used. Plus the Twin Otter is one of the coolest planes around. Official site: http://www.harbour-air.com/
- Kenmore Air (Hyack Air). Official site: http://www.hyackair.com/
- If you’re savvy and lucky, you can sometimes get such good standby fares that this becomes the fastest and cheapest way to go. Just don’t hinge your plans on waiting for a cheapo ticket.
- Landing right in the harbour is very cool!
Several cities on the island have airports and several companies operate flights. I’ll try and mark them all on the Google map. The largest and most frequented airport is of course Victoria (YYJ). There are also airports in Nanaimo (YCD), Campbell River (YBL), and Comox (YQQ) that are pretty easy to get flights to. Plus a handful of smaller ones. The more common airlines are:
- Air Canada: http://aircanada.com
- WestJet: http://www.westjet.com
- Pacific Coastal Airlines: http://www.pacificcoastal.com/
- Victoria handles most the major flights to/from the island. Akal Airporter (site) runs a reliable shuttle bus service to/from the airport and hotels, etc. No need to pre-book them when arriving. It’s a pain to get to the airport via public transit (no good excuse for this).
I believe I’ve marked all the places mentioned above on this map. Let me know if I missed something.
View To/From Vancouver Island in a larger map