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What is the quickest route to get to Tofino - from Philly...

What is the quickest route to get to Tofino - from Philly...

Sep 26th, 2004, 06:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 115
What is the quickest route to get to Tofino - from Philly...

My perfect destination is Tofino, but I'm at a loss as how to do it quickly with four kids, including a two year old. I can't find any non-stop flights to Vancouver.

Should I just stick with Victoria/Vancouver Island? Would that be easier? I keep hearing the long trip is worth it, but I don't want to kill myself on the way! LOL!

Every time I think of all my alternatives, I think wouldn't it be easier to fly directly to Seattle and take a cruise to Alaska. Maybe not the best way to see it, but the easiest with these kids.


lisabees is offline  
Sep 26th, 2004, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,944
Yopu do realize Tofino is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere?, More accurately, on the far side of nowhere?

Nevertheless, a worthy destination, just on not on major airline routes.

If you want to go to Tofino, and you are already in Victoria on Vancouver Island, it's easy enough to drive. The only problem is that it is a fairly long drive because there are ocean inlets in the way, and you have to drive around them.

So, if you want to go, itdoesn't eaactly get hard, nor complicated. It just invol;ves a series of relatively easy steps.

Just fly from Philly to Toronto, and from Toronto to Vancouver.

Rent a minivan at the Vancouver airport, and perhaps spend a night in Vancouver to unwind from the trip.

Then drive to Horseshoe Bay (north and west of Vancouver; an easy drive of less than an hour) and take the ferry to Vancouver Island. Drive a little north to Parksville, and then drive across the island to Tofino, and you are there.

It's not hard to do; it's just a fairly long trip from clear across a continent.

A friend is in Santa Fe today. To get tehre from Toronto was similalry complicated. Toronto to Minneapolis. Change planes to Albequerque, and then meet someone in the airport restaurant and drive to Santa Fe. Your trip would be pretty much the same, except you get a ferry ride and need to rent a vehicle instead of meeting a friend.

Nitpicky details: Toronto has a huge airport with three terminals, so you may have to allow extra time to change terminals.

When you retrace your steps, you'll clear US customs in Toronto.

You could fly from Philly to Seattle (are there direct flights or do you still need to change in some hub city), rent your van there, drive to Port Angeles WAshing (north of Seattle, on the Olympic Penninsula) and take a ferry to Victoria, and then drive up from there. The good part of this is that it is a wonderful drive. The bad part is that it would take longer than just going to Toronto and changing and going to Vancouver and driving.

Ferry boats from near
Vancovuer go to Vancouver Island from north of Vancouver and south of Vancouver. The south ferry is closer to the airport, but then you need to drive further on the island to get to Tofino. The north ferry involves driving through Vancovuer, but that's an interesting drive.

You can take Alaska cruises from Vancouver, too.

BAK is offline  
Sep 26th, 2004, 10:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 115
Thanks BAK. I'm just toying with the idea of skipping Tofino and finding a great place on Vancouver Island. It's hard to know that fine line between pushing the kids just enough to show them new things or pushing them too much and too far. The older three are extremely flexible. I forget what two year olds are like!

lisabees is offline  
Sep 26th, 2004, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,465
If you are planning on being on Vancouver Island anyway, don't miss out on Tofino!! It is the most wonderful place in Canada!! Why come so far just to deny yourself the pleasure!!(OK OK - so I'm a bit biased here )

What you need to know:

The airport in Vancouver is south of downtown.

The two ferry terminals in the Vancouver area are Tsawwassen (just south of the city) and Horseshoe Bay (north of downtown and just north of West Vancouver).

From Tsawwassen (the southern terminal) you can either catch a ferry to Victoria on the south tip of Vancouver Island, or to Nanaimo (furthur north on the east side of the island and the town from which your drive to Tofino will begin).
If you take the ferry to Victoria, you will have a much much longer drive to Tofino (I would estimate another 3 hours from the ferry terminal on the island).

From Horseshoe Bay you can catch the ferry to Nanaimo.

The drive from Vancouver airport to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal is straightforward and fairly easy to do - just leave the airport and head south on 99 and then southwest on 17 - follow the signs.

To get to the Horsehoe Bay ferry terminal you need to drive (north) all the way through Vancouver, downtown traffic and all.

The sailing time from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo is shorter than the sailing time from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo (approx 1.5 hours vs. approx 2 hours), but the drive to Horseshoe Bay from the airport is longer than to Tsawwassen.
So you have a choice. I believe that there was a discussion on this forum at one point about which route was faster, and if I remember correctly there wasn't a consensus ("six of one, half a dozen of the other" type of thing).

Since you are coming such a long way, I would recommend splitting your travel into two days - the first day for getting to Vancouver, the next for travelling from Vancouver to Tofino.

The ferry ride should be fun for the kids (even the two year old - I have a grandson that age and he loves anything that looks like transportation )plus they will have the freedom to move around on the ferry, so it won't seem like travelling for them.

The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino can be done in stages - there are some towns (Parksville, Port Alberni), points of interest (Cathedral Grove = 800 year old Douglas Firs) and camping/rest stops along the way so that you could make as frequent stops as you need.
Although the distance is only about 132 miles, it will take several hours to drive because it's a winding mountain highway with a fairly low speed limit.

Personally I would avoid the airport in Toronto - the arrangement of Canada/US customs and domestic flight gates was especially designed I'm sure to make you miss any connecting flights (or alternatively give you no choice but to spend hours waiting). That's been my experience anyway.

For your information, here's the website for ferries in B.C.:


By the way, I believe that there is an Amtrak rail link from Seattle to Vancouver - I've never been on it but it might be fun for the kids (less constraining than driving; you could then rent a car in Vancouver at the train terminal).

Hope this helps!

Borealis is offline  
Sep 26th, 2004, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 982
Resorts around Parksville/Qualicum are quite popular with visitors to Vancouver Island who have children.
The beaches are fine, the water is generally calm and the scenery on a sunny day is wonderful.
Being as how it's on the East Coast of the Island the prevailing winds are much lighter so waves overwhelming the children isn't usually a concern-not always the case on the 'Outside'.
Parksville is a short 30 minute drive north of the Ferry terminal in Nanaimo.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Sep 27th, 2004, 05:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
If you decide to fly to Toronto and then to BC, why not fly direct to Victoria instead of Vancouver? Westjet flies there, as does Air Canada. Some flights involve brief layovers, which might be a problem for the kids, but Air Canada does have direct nonstop flights.
Meesthare is offline  
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