Help with Vacouver to Victoria trip

Old May 21st, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Help with Vacouver to Victoria trip

We are going to Vancouver Aug 6 and have 4 nights on our own until we head up to Whistler for a business conference for another 4 nights. This is our first trip to Canada. We are bringing our 12 year old son.

So far, I have made reservations for the first two nights at The Wedgewood Hotel and the next two nights at The Granville Island Hotel. (Wedgewood was too pricey for 4 nights but I really want to experience it--we have a suite)

I have tickets to a play (The Foursome) at The Stanley Theater on the fourth night of our stay. (I think its close to Granville Island).

Now, I am thinking that I should plan a trip over to Victoria for at least one of these nights. My son actually loves gardens and Bushart Gardens sound incredible.

If we stay at The Wedgewood for the first two nights, we could take a sea plane over to Victoria (or Nanaimo, which is cheaper) and stay one night before returning to Granville Island Hotel for the last night. Is this too much?

I am not planning to rent a car while in Vancouver, but we will need one to drive to Whistler. If we fly over to Nanaimo by sea plane we will need a car. Right? How far away is the gardens from that point? Is Sea plane the best way? (Its only $109 to fly to Victoria and $54ish to fly to Nanaimo). I thought it may be a fun adventure in itself.

Any of your ideas/suggestions are appreciated. Also, as far as renting a car from Vancouver for the drive to Whistler...should I pick up and drop off at the Vancouver airport?

cyncruiser is offline  
Old May 21st, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Given your limited time I see no point in going to Nanaimo as it is a few hours' drive from Butchart Gardens. Some of the drive can be cut out by taking the Brentwood ferry (which docks in the Butchart Gardens district) but this too takes time and you'd miss one of the more scenic parts of the drive, the Malahat (which is not to say the ferry route is unattractive).

But I think your time could be better spent than driving the rather humdrum route, in my opinion, between Victoria and Nanaimo.

Taking a day trip to Victoria would eliminate the need to cart your luggage around. You could take the float plane over early in the morning, then take the bus across on an evening ferry back to Vancouver.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 10:27 AM
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Butchart Gardens are nowhere near Nanaimo. You must drive all the way to Victoria and then turn north a few miles. My guess is that it will take 3 to 4 hours to make the drive.

I have driven the Island Highway wall the way from Port Hardy to Victoria, but I did not stop in Nanaimo and hence did did not time how long it took me from one to the other. I know it was an all day drive from Port Hardy.

As you near Victoria from that direction the road becomes twisting and slower than you might expect because of trafic.

By the time you fool with a seaplane for a short distance, it is just as easy to get a car in Vancouver and take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay.
That puts you out at a point closer to Butchart Gardens by far.

What is the attraction in going to Nanaimo? I never heard of much that was there to see. Perhaps there is and I don't know about it.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 10:43 AM
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There is no real attraction in going to Nanaimo, Bob, as far as I'm concerned. The south part of the highway has seen many accidents lately too.

You have a point of just taking a car over. Another option would be to take the floatplane and/or bus/ferry to and from the island and, once in Victoria, rent a car for the day. I'm a little negative about ferries, having taken too many in my lifetime, but can see that a visitor might find the trip appealing. Floatplanes don't involve much waiting time.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 01:26 PM
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I think that you do not need a car or a plane to go to Victoria.
There is a bus (you take it from Central station), if I remember well - Pacific line. This bus go to Victoria (you go with it on a ship, when arrive in Victoria harbour the same bus waits for you and take you to center of the town (at Central station). In the afternoon you can visit the city of Victoria (very nice), and next morning take the bus th Butchart garden, then back to Victoria, and from then, with Pacific line bus, to Vancouver.

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Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:10 AM
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OK well we've managed to eliminate the Nanaimo option-not that it was hard
My advice is to wait and see what the weather is like and how much time you have.
Using the regular bus to/from Victoria then renting a car will mean a long long day-the Seaplane option means some great scenery and a faster turnaround.
Low cloud though means little to see from a plane.
Also investigate bus tour options that include a visit to Buchart-I see those smaller tour busses on the ferries all the time.
As to Whistler your son will find all sorts of things to do-hiking/mountain biking/rafting.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 10:50 PM
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I think that "doing Victoria" is a bit rushed. There is plenty to do in Vancouver for the three full days you are there. (Other days are travel days)

You could fly over to Victoria by helijet or float plan early
in the morning, rent a car, take a cab or bus to the gardens, have high tea and return early in the evening.

You would have to check your luggage somewhere and perhaps the Granville Island hotel or the Wedgewood would look after your luggage.

On the other hand, you could visit several gardens in Vancouver, spend a day doing nothing at the new library or hiking around Stanley Park, shopping or whale watching. With money saved from the Victoria trip, you could dine at Lumiere (
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Old May 25th, 2005, 02:19 PM
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I am a resident of Victoria, and hopefully can help you out with this.

Butchart Gardens is spectacular, and well worth a visit, as is Victoria in general. The gardens are located in Brentwood Bay, which is not far from the ferry terminal on the Victoria side if you decide to go that route. Pacific Coach Lines actually offers a day trip from Vancouver to see the gardens and some other local sites via the ferry (see their website at, as well as a shuttle out to the gardens from the city centre once in Victoria.

The seaplanes will take you into downtown Victoria alternately, which is about 10 miles from the gardens; but the ride is very scenic and quick as compared to the ferry, and this option allows you to experience some of what the city itself has to offer in addition to seeing the gardens. MANY buses, both public and tour-operated, visit Butchart Gardens on a regular basis during the day, so your transportation options from the downtown area are abundant, and do NOT require you to take a vehicle. The seaplanes will land you in the Inner Harbour, which is the heart of the city and home to all the premium hotels, restaurants, and attractions. You could tour the Royal BC Museum, visit the Wax Museum, or have high tea at the Empress before/after your gardens visit. Most every tour bus going to Butchart Gardens leaves from this area, and even if you hadn't booked something in advance you would have no trouble hopping onto one of the tour buses right in front of the Empress. If you plan to stay the night, your itinerary could easily include any combination of these activities, with easy arrival by seaplane into the harbour, a stay at one of the inner harbour hotels (The Empress, Hotel Grand Pacific, Laurel Point Inn, and Ocean Point Resort are some of the better ones), dinner and a lovely evening strolling the causeway, and a quick breakfast before your 20 min flight back to downtown Vancouver. Because the flights are harbour to harbour and so short in duration, you could pack a lot into 24 hours.

Hope you have a lovely trip out West, no matter what you decide to do.

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Old May 25th, 2005, 03:53 PM
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I noticed that the comedy theater on Granville Island is doing a take-off of the Apprentice this summer. If it's half as good as their take-off of CSI last summer, it is worth seeing.
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