Boat and Ferry Travel
BC Ferries has frequent, year-round passenger and vehicle service to Vancouver Island: it's a 1½-hour crossing from Tsawwassen, about an hour south of Vancouver, to Swartz Bay, about 30 minutes north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. There are also regular sailings from Horseshoe Bay (a 45-minute drive north of Vancouver) to Departure Bay, 3 km (2 miles) north of Nanaimo, and from Tsawwassen to Duke Point, 15 km (9 miles) south of Nanaimo; these are a good choice if you're en route to Tofino; from Depature Bay it's another two- to three-hour drive, via Port Alberni, to Ucluelet and Tofino. Vehicle reservations can be made for any of these ferry routes. BC Ferries also sail to the Southern Gulf Islands from Vancouver and Vancouver Island ; ferries cross several times a day between Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula and Mill Bay in the Cowichan Valley.
Lady Rose Marine Services takes passengers on a packet freighter from Port Alberni to various points on Vancouver Island's west coast. The MV Francis Barkley sails from Port Alberni to the Broken Group Islands and Ucluelet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between early June and mid September, and to Bamfield and waypoints on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday year-round. Sunday stops (in summer) are Bamfield and the Broken Group Islands, where the company operates Sechart Lodge, a floating base for kayakers. Round-trip fares are C$82 to Ucluelet, and C$78 to Bamfield or the Broken Group Islands. 250/723–8313, 800/663–7192 www.ladyrosemarine.com