When visiting Vancouver Island, you will quickly learn that ferry is one of the more efficient modes of transportation. Not only are there many different ferry routes that allow you to easily navigate the province, but also there are other bonus benefits that make traveling by ferry a necessity. Opting for water-based transport in some cases is one of the best ways to get an unlimited supply of fresh air or a deck-side view of stunning British Columbia scenery.
If you are planning on visiting Vancouver Island or British Columbia in general this year, it may be helpful to have a better understanding of the ferry system.
About BC Ferries
British Columbia’s primary provider of on-water service is BC Ferries, a company that began in 1960. Today, they operate one of the most sophisticated ferry transportation systems in the world and are well-known for their safety record.
BC Ferries operates 35 vessels and nearly 50 ports of call, making them one of the largest and most accessible water transportation companies in the area. The company strives to provide locals and visitors alike with an enjoyable maritime travel experience, both in helping them reach their destination and giving a true taste of all British Columbia has to offer.
BC Ferries offers transportation services to many popular destinations along BC’s coastline, in addition to smaller ferry services to remote local and lakeside communities. Some of the most popular routes occur between the BC mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. There are several different ferry systems, including passenger services between remote areas, inland ferries, and boats that offer connecting services to Alaska and Washington State.
One of the most attractive aspects of BC Ferries is that they offer so much more than simple transportation from one spot to another. Passengers will not only be met with stunning views of British Columbia as they are brought to their desired destination, but also in most cases from the Island to the Mainland there is a cafeteria, a gift shop, a kids’ playroom, and more.
Routes can range anywhere from 90 minutes between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, to an approximately 15-hour journey. Keep in mind that travel times vary depending on the time of year and reservations may be required for some routes. It is also crucial to note there are certain time limits as to when to check in and buy tickets at the terminal prior to departure; time limits vary between routes from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
The most common routes of ferries include the following:
- Inland Ferries – this service is aimed at giving people access to more remote parts of British Columbia. This includes across the various lakes and rivers that are not equipped with bridges, as well as other hard-to-reach areas of the province.
- Alaska Maritime Highway System – offers both vehicle and passenger services between southeast Alaska and Prince Rupert.
- Washington State Ferries – this route offers vehicle and passenger services from the San Juan Islands, the coast of Washington State, and southern Vancouver Island.
To learn more about services, fares, reservation times and schedules offered by BC Ferries, please visit their official website.
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