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If you are visiting Vancouver, a day trip on BC Ferries is an ideal way to experience the west coast of BC. You will see some really spectacular scenery as you sail across the Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island. While you are on board, you can enjoy a hot or cold meal in the cafeteria. The sailing time is just over an hour and 30 minutes each way.
Using public transit and going on the ferry as a foot passenger will allow you to do this easily and at minimal cost. Just use the SkyTrain to get to Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line and from there take the #620 Tsawwassen bus from Bay #3 for a 40 minute ride to the ferry terminal. You can simply enjoy a round trip on the ferry, or if you get a fairly early start you can catch a #70 Express bus into downtown Victoria on the other side and spend a few hours exploring BC's capital before making the reverse trip back.
Total cost of the round trip right into downtown Victoria and back, including bus transportation at each end, $45.75 for an adult and considerably less for seniors and children. This includes a the cost of public transit fares on both sides as well as the round-trip fare as a foot passenger on BC Ferries and compares very favourably to taking the same trip with a tour company. Source: TourbyTransit
For more ideas on day trips to and from Vancouver, check out Tourism Vancouver's day trips page.