For a scenic cruise through the Inside Passage of British Columbia’s unique coastline, take the BC Ferry from Port Hardy (northern tip of Vancouver Island) or Prince Rupert on the BC Northcoast mainland. Frequent sailings are scheduled between these two points during the summer months as well as between Prince Rupert and Skidegate in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Because of the extreme popularity of the summer sailings, advance reservations are definitely recommended. Information about schedules, fares and staterooms can be obtained from their website
The coastline of British Columbia is spectacularly beautiful – indented with small coves and long, deep fjords to form a rugged and beckoning landscape. Although the coast faces the stormy Pacific Ocean, the massive bulk of Vancouver Island and a chain of smaller islands stretching north to Alaska shelter it.
For more than 40 years, BC Ferries has provided vital year-round transportation between Canada’s many west coast communities, including the 1-1/2 hour ferry ride between Vancouver on the mainland, and the Provincial capital of Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Here are some suggested routes to take:
Vancouver to Victoria or Nanaimo
In summer, Victoria, at the southern end of Vancouver Island, is linked with Vancouver by hourly ferries (every two hours in the fall and winter months). They sail between Tsawwassen, 37 kilometres south of Vancouver, and Swartz Bay, 32 kilometres north of Victoria. Ferries on this route start their 1-1/2 hour crossings at 7am and run until 9pm.
Victoria is a delightful blend of the past and present. It was a former colonial outpost of the Old British Empire and this heritage is evident in the Legislative buildings and the Empress Hotel where afternoon tea is still served as a ritual, with scones, cakes and fresh preserves. The picturesque streets of the old town are a shopper’s delight, and hanging flower baskets remind you that Victoria is known as the Garden City.
Other routes between Vancouver and Vancouver Island include the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo crossing, and BC Ferries’ MID-ISLAND EXPRESS between Tsawwassen and Duke Point, just south of Nanaimo.
The Gulf Islands is a group of Canadian islands between Vancouver and Victoria. From both Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and Victoria (Swartz Bay), vehicle ferries regularly sail to these charming destinations, each of which features a unique combination of attractions and personality.
The Sunshine Coast & Powell River
North of Vancouver is the fjord area of the Sunshine Coast. From Horseshoe Bay, 21 kilometres north of downtown Vancouver, a 40-minute ferry ride takes you and your vehicle to Langdale terminal. The roads wind gently through Gibsons and Sechelt, 87 kilometres to Earls Cove. From here another ferry crosses in 50 minutes to Saltery Bay and the clear, perfect diving waters of the upper Sunshine Coast and Powell River. Lund, 32 kilometres farther, is the end of highway, so from Powell River take the 75-minute ferry crossing to Little River (Comox) on Vancouver Island.
The Discovery Coast Passage
The Discovery Coast Passage is a summer-only service between Port Hardy and Mid Coast ports
Bella Bella, Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola.