Boat and Ferry Travel
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Boat and Ferry Travel
Ferries play a central role in British Columbia's transportation network. In some areas, ferries provide the only access (besides floatplanes) into and out of communities. For visitors, ferries are one of the best ways to get a sense of the region and its ties to the sea. BC Ferries operates one of the largest ferry fleets in the world, serving about 40 ports of call on B.C.'s west coast. The ferries carry all vehicles as well as bicycles and foot passengers.
Reservations are optional between Vancouver and Vancouver Island and on most sailings between Vancouver and the Southern Gulf Islands. Most other services do not accept reservations and load vehicles on a first-come, first-served basis.
BC Ferries operates two major ferry terminals outside Vancouver. From Tsawwassen to the south (an hour's drive from downtown), ferries sail to Swartz Bay near Victoria, to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and to the Gulf Islands (the small islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island). From Horseshoe Bay (45 minutes north of downtown), ferries sail to the Sunshine Coast and to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Vehicle reservations on Vancouver to Victoria and Nanaimo and Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast routes are optional and cost C$15 to C$17.50 in addition to the fare. There's no extra charge for reservations on Gulf Island routes.
There are several options for getting to Vancouver Island from Washington State: Black Ball Transport operates the MV Coho, a car ferry, daily year-round between Port Angeles, Washington, and Victoria's Inner Harbour. The car and passenger fare is US$50; bikes are carried for US$5.25. The Victoria Clipper runs daily, year-round passenger-only service between downtown Seattle and downtown Victoria. Sailings take about 3 hours, and the one-way fare from mid-May to late September is US$87; bicycles are carried for an extra US$10, bike reservations are recommended. Between late June and early September, the Victoria Express provides daily passenger-only service between Port Angeles, Washington, and downtown Victoria. From late May to late June, and early to mid-September, the service runs Friday to Monday only. Sailings cost US$12.50 (US$5.50 for bikes or kayaks) and take an hour. Washington State Ferries runs a car ferry daily from April through December from Anacortes, Washington, to Sidney (some runs make stops at different San Juan Islands), about 30 km (18 mi) north of Victoria. Bikes are welcome and the sailing takes about three hours. One-way high-season fares are US$53.70 for a vehicle and driver.
Between late June and late September, Victoria San Juan Cruises offer narrated foot-passenger day trips from Bellingham, Washington, to Victoria with a salmon barbecue dinner on the return trip; Victoria city tours, the Butchart Gardens trips, tea at the Empress, and overnight packages are also available. One-way high-season fare is US$59; a return trip with dinner is US$99.
Boat and Ferry Information
BC Ferries (888/223-3779; 888/223-3779 in B.C., Alberta and Washington State. www.bcferries.com.)
Black Ball Ferry Line (250/386-2202 or 360/457-4491. www.ferrytovictoria.com.)
Clipper Navigations (250/382-8100. www.clippervacations.com.)
Washington State Ferries (206/464-6400 or 888/808-7977. www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.)
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