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BC Ferries?

Travel Forums North America BC Ferries?

1. Posted by Pinny (Budding Member 18 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi...we're off to BC in July and very excited as we begin to plan many beautiful places! Looks like most of the ferries back and forth between Vancouver and Vancouver Island are car ferries - is that right? We were going to hire a car in Nanaimo for some days, then drop it back and hire another car out of Vancouver to drive to the mountains but it looks cheaper to just hire once and take the car on the ferry back and forth...make sense? Just might have an issue trying to park it in Vancouver for two days??? Any thoughts on this from locals much appreciated! :) (also, does the ferry leave from downtown Vancouver - on the BC ferries map it looks way south near the US border!?)

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2009 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

That ferry does not leave from downtown Vancouver, and there's more than 1 route between the island and mainland - but it's not terribly far from the city. Everything in the area is close to the border. I think you'd be better off getting another rental on the mainland because you'd be paying ferry charges for a car - fairly high. If you want to keep a car in downtown Vancouver, you'll need a motel rather than a hotel - better to only rent for the days you'll be out of the city. Very good bus service from the city to ferry terminals too.

ferry map:

3. Posted by way2goeh (Full Member 159 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I wouldnt rent a car to take on ferry. In Vancouver, you can take the West Van bus #257 (horseshoe Bay) all the way to the ferry terminal and take the ferry into Nanaimo. Car is expensive on the ferry. There are two terminals, West Van and Tswassen ( cant spell it). West Van is so much closer and the other ferry goes to Victoria ( but 17kms away from victoria).

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Apr-2009, at 16:30 by way2goeh ]

4. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Once you search the Ferry site you'll understand the where various harbours are and what boats go where.

It's a real crapshoot in terms of saving money taking a car or not.

Pros-no waiting around to be picked up/dropped off by car rental company staff-expensive cab rides to/from rental offices-this can ad up on the Island you'd be surprised.
If you rent from a Mainland company you'll receive unlimited KMs-not always so with Island based operations even though it's the same company-it's important to check this.
No transfers to/from Horseshoe Bay this can eat into your vacation time.

Cons-expense not just for taking a car but for a car reservation-Yes you can just show up and wait but again it's crapshoot I've waited in the hot sun for hours and hours due to unfortunate circumstances beyond my control.

Yes it's expensive to park downtown figure minimum $25/night on top of your hotel cost.
There's a 17.5% tax on car rentals for those who arrive @ YVR in the previous 24 hours-you must either wait 24 hrs or lie on the rental form-I'm not kidding.
No need for car whilst visiting the city transit is easy and downtown is compact/quite walkable.

Any other questions fire away might take me a bit to respond but I'll do my best-I live here and have travelled the province extensively.

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Apr-2009, at 19:09 by SamSalmon ]

5. Posted by Pinny (Budding Member 18 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks all - this info is REALLY useful - stuff an Australian travel agent would not ever know (thanks TP!!!) Have now looked at a map (helps!!!) and it's starting to make a lot more sense. Will do a bit more planning and research. Cheers, Pinny

6. Posted by sunset1999 (Full Member 108 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


I travelled from Vancouver to Victoria last year. I rented a car in Victoria with Enterprise cars (they are very cheap) but I took the pacific coach which took me from Vancouver Airport to Victoria and then from Victoria to downtown Vancouver. The pacific coach bus ( was very good because it's quite a drive from the ferries into downtown Vancouver and it's also quite a drive from Victoria to the ferries. They have package deals which looked great and I would have taken the package had I planned it differently.

BTW. I should mention that the bus fair includes the ferry price as well and they don't just go to Victoria. Check out their website!


[ Edit: Edited on 23-Apr-2009, at 04:54 by sunset1999 ]

7. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

it's quite a drive from the ferries into downtown Vancouver and it's also quite a drive from Victoria to the ferries.

Not really it's a 30-40 minute drive to Tsawwassen depending on traffic and from Swartz Bay into Victoria 20-25 minutes again depending on the time of day

8. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 924 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Well, it depends on where you park for cost. But if you're in the core, you'll PAY. Why no one has mentioned Horseshoe Bay, I don't know. But it's really close to the city. Nice view and nice trip. And I know that the bus goes RIGHT THERE from downtown Vancouver.

Personally, I would take the bus and rent twice.

9. Posted by Pinny (Budding Member 18 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

thanks all you Canadians (and others) for all the info...this car/ferry thing has actually been a good conversation as we've now changed plans around to rent a car for 12 days straight (including Van to Victoria) on the ferry and due to the number of days it's still affordable...we'll drop the car off and THEN enjoy Vancouver car free at the end of our trip. (and avoid the tax as we'll be in Van a few days before getting the car - thanks for that tip Sam!) Appreciate all the ideas on this...will probably have more questions soon (about the Sea to Sky Highway - looking at Google maps it looks pretty amazing topographically!)