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BC Ferries is the most popular way for people to get to and from Vancouver Island. Find out everything you need to know about travelling by ferry.
Riding the ferry is a relaxing way to start your vacation. As you cross the Strait of Georgia and transition to “island time,” take advantage of the on-board amenities like shopping and dining, get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery, and even spot wildlife! Below are a few guidelines for travelling by ferry:
BC Ferries has two terminals in the Greater Vancouver area that offer mid-Vancouver Island ferry service to Nanaimo: Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen.
The most popular choice is to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Horseshoe Bay is about a 20 km and a twenty-five minute drive away from downtown Vancouver and easily accessible from Trans Canada Highway 1. This route offers a shorter 1.5-hour sailing time to Nanaimo, compared with 2 hours when departing from Tsawwassen. Once you arrive on the island, it is about 33 km and a 30-minute drive from Departure Bay terminal to Parksville Qualicum Beach.
BC Ferries Tsawwassen terminal offers service to Duke Point terminal in Nanaimo, with a slightly longer 2-hour sailing time. Tsawwassen is a convenient choice if you are travelling from Washington State or Greater Vancouver's southern communities of Richmond and White Rock. The Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo is about 50 km and a 45-minute drive from Parksville Qualicum Beach.
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Be sure to check the BC Ferries Schedule prior to travelling. Ferry schedules change throughout the year and extra sailings are added to peak periods. Please plan to arrive between 30 and 60 minutes ahead of your departure time. Advanced reservations are recommended during peak seasons.
In general, departures from Horseshoe Bay terminal begin at 6:30 am, followed by sailings every two hours with the last ferry on the half-hour at 12:30 pm. Mid-afternoon departures begin at 3:00 pm, followed by sailings every two hours until 9:00 pm.
The schedule from Tsawwassen terminal generally begins at 5:15 am followed by sailings every 2.5 hours until 10:45 pm.
For complete and current ferry information, view the official BC Ferries Website.
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