Thursday, March 2, 2017

Vancouver Island

When I asked my colleagues about places to visit during my 6 weeks stay, they said go hiking, go skiing and experience the ferry ride to the island. One of my colleagues even suggested that I take a Seaplane ride to the island if I get a good deal. As the name suggests, Vancouver Island is an island off the coast of Vancouver. It has few cities and takes about an hour to two hours by the BC Ferries depending on which part of the Island you want to go. The seaplanes take you there in about 30 mins.

So you can take the 1-2 days sightseeing tours which will pick you from downtown Vancouver and drop you back in downtown. These services too will take the BC Ferries (yeah, the ferry can transport buses and trucks too). There are also the seaplane tour which will circle you around the city for 30 minutes or so. Both these are convenient but expensive. Of all the cities on the Island, Victoria looked like a favorable and accessible place. Since I like to plan my own trip, I went through the itineraries provided by these tours and also the hop on hop off services.

A few places were walk-able from the Victoria Downtown. The other places in the tour were nice but I had only a day and considering that the sun sets early, I had half a day to spend there and return back. So this is what I did. I booked a 8am Seaplane from the Waterfront harbor in Vancouver downtown. This was a 20mins walk from my apartment and I got the deal of $99 for the ride from Vancouver to Victoria harbor.
The 30mins ride provides you with a panoramic view of the ocean and the sky. The plane doesn’t fly too high above the sea level so you can see the ships and boats below. Oh, and if it was not already clear, these planes land and take off on water :)
On arrival at Victoria Harbour, I went to the Frankie's Modern Diner for breakfast. They had a very good Irish Coffee and Eggs Benedict.
The reason I visited the island was mostly for the seaplane and the ferry experience so I actually did not plan much to explore the city. Also I visited in mid December so it was cold and rainy. I walked around the downtown for almost 3 hours covering the Fisherman's wharf, some monuments and Beacon Hill park.
I then boarded the double Decker bus from downtown to the Swartz Bay which covers the length of the island as the ferry is on the other side of the island. The one hour bus ride passed through the Chinatown and couple of lakes which were mentioned as part of the hop-on-hop-off tour. The best part was the ride costed me just $2.5.

The ferry costs about $16 from the Island to Vancouver. Ferry ride was amazing too. You get to see some snow covered mountains and vastness of sea. These ferries have a pantry, restaurant and even meeting rooms. If you are willing to pay premium charges then there is a lounge too. I was on the top deck the whole time and surprising not freeze to death :P
The ferry drops you at the Tsawwassen Bay from where you will need to take the bus to the skytrain transit and then to Vancouver. In one day I covered all modes of transport :)

The other cities in Vancouver island are Naimino and Gulf Island. These can be reached by the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal in Vancouver. I accidentally ended up at horseshoe bay a week earlier thanks to the lack of bus connectivity to Cypress Falls.
With that ended my 5 weekends at Vancouver. A perfect blend of everything that Vancouver had to offer. I am sure there are a lot more places to explore but I guess I will keep that for my next trip whenever that happens :D

Important Links:
Ferry ride information: http://www.bcferries.com/
SeaPlane: https://www.harbourair.com/

You might also be interested to read: Vancouver City, Hikes in Vancouver, Vancouver Mountains

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