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Building and Itinerary for Vancouver Island

Building and Itinerary for Vancouver Island

Old Jul 29th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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Building and Itinerary for Vancouver Island

Hi - We fly into Vancouver late Friday and leave from there the next Friday. Would like to 'get out of Dodge' asap to Vancouver Island - we're thinking Long Beach based on your postings so far.

Here are our questions so far
1) What's the best area for scenic/wildlife for 4-6 days on the island? Would you split it to 2 locations
2) What are the logistics of car rental? Do you car ferry or rent once you get to the island?
3) What about the ferry from downtown Vancouver versus leaving on BCFerries from Tsawwassen or Horshoe Bay? Is one more scenic and/or easier to get to from a Vancouver hotel?
4) Is it worth it to ferry to/from Victoria to get a chance to see this area?

Appreciate your input.
LeighNewland is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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Why not fly to Victoria? Then you don't have to worry about ferry's.
1) The drive from Victoria up to Long Beach is lovely and can be done in one day but to enjoy it you might consider stopping for a night along the way.
2) If you don't fly all the way to Victoria, you could either rent a car in Vancouver and then have to drive to the ferry terminal, wait for ferry, etc. Alternatively you could take the bus from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria and rent in Victoria. Buses have priority loading on the ferry so there is no waiting at the terminal.
3) I don't know of any ferry that leaves from downtown Vancouver!!! If you go the Tswassen route its a longer drive once on Vancouver Island but a much prettier ferry crossing. Going from Horsehoe Bay is a shorter drive once on the Island as you dock at Nanaimo but the ferry crossing isn't as nice.
4) Depends on if you want to see Victoria and surrounding area. There is a lot to see but if your heart is set on doing Long Beach then I would ferry to Nanaimo.

Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:31 AM
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I agree about flying to Victoria. Victoria has a very nice little airport. If you are flying Air Canada your ticket will only cost you a few $ more - if anything to get the connection to Victoria.
 
Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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Hello LeighNewland,

Cruiseryyc has given you some good options. I agree with her suggestion that, if your vacation is going to concentrate on Vancouver Island, there is merit in flying to Victoria and cutting Vancouver out of the picture altogether.

When I've looked up flights to Vancouver and Victoria, it has seemed to me that there are more choices for folks wanting to fly into Vancouver, especially from the United States.

Not only have there seemed to be a greater variety of flights into Vancouver but they have seemed to be cheaper too. However, if cost is not too big of a factor, and if you can find a sensible flight into Victoria, I think it's worth considering.

Besides, by the time you added the cost of ferrying yourselves and a car from the mainland to the island, it would erode the price advantage of Vancouver.

My son and his girlfriend went to the Ucluelet / Tofino area in August 2004. They were on a stringent budget, travelled by public transportation, and stayed mostly in hostels.

They ended up catching a bus from downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, catching the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and then catching a bus to the Tofino / Ucluelet area.

However, I recall that, at the time he was doing the research for the trip, my son considered a ferry that departed from Vancouver Harbour and went to Nanaimo (if I remember the destination correctly). If memory serves me, it was a passenger-only ferry. I can't remember why my son and his GF eventually chose the Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo ferry. It's quite possible that, since they were watching their pennies so closely, their decision was based on cost.

The reason that the Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay crossing is more scenic is that the ferry sails amongst the Southern Gulf Islands, which are pretty. The Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay / Nanaimo ferry does the crossing through open water.

Still another ferry choice is Tsawwassen to Nanaimo (actually Duke Point). The drive from Vancouver International Airport to Tsawwassen is quite a bit shorter than the drive from the airport to Horseshoe Bay.

The Tsawwassen - Duke Point ferry voyage takes a little longer than the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay ferry. However, by travelling from the airport to Tsawwassen, you avoid having to drive through downtown Vancouver to get to Horseshoe Bay.

There also are small, local airlines in Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria that fly to Tofino. They are quite an expensive, but a time-saving, option. Once you arrive in Tofino, you can rent a car there.

I'm sorry if the additional choices have confused rather than clarified your choices.

I hope someone who is more Vancouver Island-savvy than I am will step in and answer your question about the best distribution of your time on the island.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:48 AM
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Hello sockboy,

Sorry, I didn't see your post when I posted my message. I didn't mean to give the appearance of ignoring what you'd said.

>>>Victoria has a very nice little airport. If you are flying Air Canada your ticket will only cost you a few $ more - if anything to get the connection to Victoria.<<<

You have made a valid point. I think it depends on the direction from which the traveller is approaching Vancouver / Victoria and which airline they are using to get there. At least that is how it has seemed to me when I have compared various flying itineraries on a web site such as www.itasoftware.com .
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Thanks to all who've replied so far. We're booked already to Vancouver, so that part's fixed, at least.

The downtown Vancouver to Nanaimo seems to be at www.harbourlynx.com. Anyone have any experience with this? If we go that way, does one rent their car in Vancouver or on the Island?
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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LeighNewland, Harbour Lynx appears to be a passenger-only ferry. If you used it, you would need to rent your car on the island.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 04:15 PM
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LeighNewland, I've just asked my son about the ferry that he caught from Vancouver to Nanaimo last year.

He said he caught the Harbour Lynx Ferry from Vancouver Harbour to Nanaimo.

In the secondhand trip report that I wrote about that vacation here at Fodor's upon his return to Calgary, I mistakenly said that he caught the bus from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay and then caught the ferry from there to Nanaimo.

In checking with him now he told me that Harbour Lynx from Vancouver Harbour cost about 10 CAD per person more than BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay. He said that, although he and his girlfriend were on a budget, they concluded that Harbour Lynx was still a better deal for them, as it represented a time savings over Horseshoe Bay.
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Old Jul 30th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Well, plans have changed a little and we are now staying overnight by the YVR airport. This solves most of the issues - we'll get our car that day and ferry from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo. Thanks, all, for the guidance.

PS - getting last-minute accommodations in Tofino/Ucluelet has been a huge hassle! Everything is booked far in advance, though an email to the Chamber of Commerce ([email protected]) has yielded some good results.

Can anyone recommend other towns on the island, including Victoria, that might be ideal?
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Old Jul 31st, 2005, 01:01 PM
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For wildlife-viewing Vancouver Island is a good location.

The westcoast of Vancouver Island(Tofino/Ucluelet) is good for black bear viewing and humback-whale whatching.

The Vancouver Island east cost (Qudra Island, Sayward, Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill) offers good access to viewing locations for ocas-whales and grizzly-bears. But some tours are so populare, that an long time reservation is required.

I recommend to contact your local Canada tourist information. They have a small book called "British Columbia 2005 approved accommodation guide" and the best is, it is issued free of charge to visitors. You can order the book also in Canada, but this requires 6 weeks delivery time.

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