Vancouver Island, originally known as Quadra, was named after the British Royal Navy Officer who discovered it in 1700’s, George Vancouver. Located off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, it is considered the largest Pacific Island in the region. It is known for its famous attractions that include the inspiring shoreline view of The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, the internationally renowned floral display of Butchart Gardens, the scenic and idyllic Pacific Rim National Park, the Galloping Goose Regional Trails and an assortment of other spectacular attractions that make it a top tourist destination for both local and foreign tourists and travelers.
Vancouver Island has beautiful and scenic landscapes and an assortment of outdoor activities to try for both those clamoring for highly adventurous endeavors or those wishing to enjoy the big outdoors at a more relaxed pace. Vancouver Island is also well known for a number of highly celebrated festivals. The food critic and connoisseur will surely enjoy the Clayouot Oyster Festival, the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival in September, as well as the Parksville Uncorked. For those who want to delve into arts, they will definitely enjoy the Fiberg Festival in August, the Vancouver Island Music Festival in July, and the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market happening from April to October. Other recommended festivals also include the unique World International Bathtub Race and Marine Festival happening in Nanaimo in July, the Summer Salmon Sizzler and the North Island Logger Sports happening down Campbell River in August. It will also prove to be a worthwhile experience for tourists and their families to witness the city come to life with 200,000 lights during the Festival of Lights happening between November and January. The children will surely have the time of their lives watching Santa turn all the lights on. The Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March, the Fire and Ice Festival in May, as well as the Brant Wildlife Festival are also worthy of mention.
Bordered by a vast body of water in every corner, with no existing bridge connecting it to the British Columbia mainland or to Washington, water transportation is of utmost importance to the island. It is their primary way of getting connected to the rest of the world. The only water vehicle given access to the island are ferries operated by a handful of companies.
The most distinguished ferry company to service the Vancouver Island area is the government subsidized BC Ferries, also known as the British Columbia Ferry Services, Inc. BC Ferries went on to become North America’s largest passenger ferry line and has provided the majority of vehicle and passenger ferry services for British Columbia. It has been in operation since 1960 and has existing routes to several Vancouver Island points including Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay with 8 sailings daily (1 hour and 35 minute) and more during summer, from Horseshoe Bay with sailing schedules every 2 hours and more during the summertime, to Powell River with 4 daily round trips (one hour and 20 minutes duration), and to various Gulf Islands.
The second biggest ferry servicing this part of the province are the Washington State Ferries, also considered United States’ largest passenger and automobile ferry fleet and the third largest in the world. They ferry people from their only Canadian port of call in Sidney in British Columbia via 2-hour trips from April to December back to Washington. This ferry company is operated and owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
In the third spot is Puget Sound Navigation Company, also known by locals as Black Ball Line or Black Ball Transport, which virtually monopolized ferry services in this area during the 1930’s. Its first all Canadian route was unveiled in 1951, ferrying people from Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver and Gibson’s Landing on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia. Currently, this ferry company operates one route, ferrying passengers, cars, trucks and other vehicles to key points in Vancouver Island, Port Angeles and Victoria in British Columbia through MV Coho. They operate up to 4 90-minute trips daily, with fewer trips during the wintertime and more trips during the peak season in summer.
In addition to the big game players, there is also a ferry company active in this region that focuses solely on ferrying passengers to and from the mainland to the island. Operated by Seattle-based Clipper Navigation, Inc., founded in 1986, popular Victoria Clipper is a high speed passenger-only ferry that services Seattle to Victoria with up to 3 two hours and forty five minutes trips every day from the middle of May to September. The Victoria Clipper also provides Amtrak Motorcoach services between Seattle in Washington and Victoria in British Columbia.