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BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

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Lake Macquarie, NSW...
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BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

We fly in from Australia & collect our motor home around noon Downtown Vancouver on 3rd May and want to spend a week on Vancouver Island. We will need to stock up on food supplies (any ideas where?) that afternoon and hopefully get the ferry the next day.

As we will not be familiar with the city (and driving on the wrong side of the road!!)

would like suggestions as to where we can stay the night of the 3rd (RV park or where?)

which would be fairly close to the ferry terminal. Also do we have to go to RV parks each night or can we camp anywhere?

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

BC Okanagan
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1. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

If you are planning to go to Vancouver Island you could take the Horseshoe Bay ferry to the island. Check out this website for a place to stay on the way to the ferry. www.capilanorvpark.com

You will need to stay at RV sites for the most part. But some Large stores have an overnight parking area in their lots for RVs.

Medicine Hat, Canada
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2. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Capilano RV park will be your closest option. Its located in West Vancouver, just across the Lions Gate Bridge from downtown Vancouver.

You'll be about 15-20 min. drive to the Horeshoe Bay ferry terminal which will take you to Nanaimo (middle of Vancouver Island).

From Nanaimo you can travel either 2 hour south to Victoria or travel north. Vancouver Island will have way more options for parking than Vancouver.

Cap RV Park is also close to a major shopping mall for you to stock up on supplies

Have fun!

Lake Macquarie, NSW...
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3. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

To Mama40 and Teebird 150 -

Thank you so much for valuable info.Have almost decided on Horseshoe Bay Ferry with stop at Capilano RV Park.Info re food supplies appreciated.

For 6 days on Vancouver Isl would anyone have suggestions for two 55year olds! We are not backpackers as such but just love the outdoors, hiking, kyaking etc. Driving distances is not a problem.

Also, if we have 6 days on the Island would 8 days be enough for the Rockies? (remembering we will have the motor home)or should we increase our time in the Rockies?

Anxiously waiting suggestions from residents or travellers.

Calgary, Alberta...
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4. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

>>>>>>Also, if we have 6 days on the Island would 8 days be enough for the Rockies? (remembering we will have the motor home)or should we increase our time in the Rockies?<<<<<<

If you have enough leeway to increase your time in the Rockies, I would suggest that you do so. In theory you could cover the Rockies in 8 days, but you would not have much time left over for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Keep in mind that the ferry crossing that will take you back to the mainland will take you a while. Even if you have reservations on the ferry (obtainable at www.becferries.ca ), you should get to the ferry terminal a MINIMUM of 30 minutes before sailing. Then the crossing of the Georgia Strait will take 1.5 hours. After that it can take 30 minutes to disembark from the ferry. So count on a minimum of 2.5 hours for the ferry crossing.

To give you an idea of the distances involved, I'll give you some comparisons with Australia. West Vancouver (where Horseshoe Bay is located) to Jasper is 809 km. That compares with 844 kms from Lake Macquarie to Brisbane. Jasper to Banff is 291 km, compared with 281 km from Lake Macquarie to Nowra. Banff to Vancouver is 850 km, compared with 883 from Nowra via Eden to Melbourne. So, if you did the Vancouver - Jasper - Banff - Vancouver circuit, it would be like driving Brisbane - Coffs Harbour - Sydney - Merimbula - Eden - Melbourne (not in terms of scenery, obviously, but in terms of distance).

Map Quest is a website that provides estimated driving distances and times. I find that it is more or less equivalent to my actual driving times in a car. However, people who travel in motorhomes tell me that you have to add about 15% to the estimated driving time for a car. So look at Map Quest, but add 15%. By the way, if Map Quest defaults to miles, you can click on the Settings link near the top of the screen and request kilometres.

http://www.mapquest.com

Also, I'm guessing that you'll need to return the motorhome to Vancouver. That seems logical since you'll also be visiting Alaska. I make that distinction because quite a few visitors to the Canadian Rockies do a one-way trip, picking up a vehicle in Calgary or Edmonton and dropping it off in Vancouver or vice versa. However, I'll work on the assumption that you'll be doing a circular drive. With that in mind, I'll recommend an itinerary in the next message.

Calgary, Alberta...
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5. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Please keep in mind that I’m not very familiar with locations of campgrounds, so you’ll need to research them and, where necessary, adjust your itinerary accordingly. However, with that caveat in mind, this is the itinerary that I suggest:

1 – Cross from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. Drive to Whistler and overnight there.

2 – Drive to Kamloops and then on to Clearwater.

3 – Visit Wells Gray Provincial Park to see Helmcken Falls and then drive to Jasper.

4 – Jasper

5 – Drive Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise and then on to Banff

6 – Banff

7 – Banff

8, 9 – Drive Banff – Lake Louise - Golden – Revelstoke – Salmon Arm – Kamloops – Hope - Vancouver. I have not specified where you should stop on Nights #8 and #9. The reason is that there are opportunities for white water rafting in a variety of places. If you want to do rafting somewhere along the way, you’ll need to adjust your overnight stops accordingly. I would suggest adding an extra day in a place in which you want to raft.

10 – Spare day to be inserted somewhere for white water rafting.

Here are some places along my suggested route that offer rafting:

Clearwater, BC – Class IV rapids on the Clearwater River

Jasper, Alberta - Class III rapids on the Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers

Golden, BC – Class III – IV rapids on the Kicking Horse River

Lytton, BC – Class III – IV rapids on the Thompson River

I consider 10 days to be the minimum amount of time you’d need to do this trip in a motorhome. As it is, you won’t have a huge amount of time for hiking. You’ll be able to do half-day hikes on the days that you’re based in Jasper and Banff.

PLEASE NOTE : It would be possible to do the trip in a counter-clockwise instead of a clockwise direction. That would be particularly appropriate if your Vancouver Island itinerary was going to end in Victoria at the southeastern end of the island. In that case you would catch the ferry at Swartz Bay and land at Tsawwassen, to the south of Vancouver. From Tsawwassen, it would make sense to set out for Hope, and then onto Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Golden. Lake Louise and so on. I’m not saying your Vancouver Island itinerary WILL include Victoria, but if it DOES include Victoria, exiting the island via Swartz Bay would make sense.

While I am not an RVer (someone who travels in a recreational vehicle), I have posted links that I hope are helpful to RVers on the Camping page of my website:

…msn.com/CalgaryandCanadianRockiesTravelTips…

In the TIPS section of my website I have included links to practical information like Weather, What To Pack, National Park Entry Fees, etc.

Hope that helps.

Calgary, Alberta...
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6. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Since I have sort of hijacked this thread to answer warners' question about the Rockies, I hope others will return to the original issue of Vancouver Island and suggest a nice 6-day itinerary for the island.

Lake Macquarie...
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7. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Hi there Judy in Calgary -

Very informative information - thankyou so much.

I have decided to use your second option, that is, Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen then Hope, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke etc. After reading your suggestions I accessed a Travel Tale written by Brian and Jean and would you believe, it is almost as you had suggested.

Ihave shortened Vancouver Island to 3 nights/4days so that we have more time in The Rockies.

I have bookedthe Horseshoe Bay - Nanaimo ferry but am having trouble finding a bc ferry going from Swartz Bay - Tsawwassen (the site shows the reverse).

I was wondering if you could see where I have gone wrong? Sorry about asking for more help!

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

If you click on the reservation page for Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay (Vancouver - Victoria) you are then given the options: leaving Tsawwassen or leaving Swartz Bay.

Lake Macquarie...
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9. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

May1st

Thankyou, I just hadn't gone further into the site!

Canada
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10. Re: BC Ferries Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Please note that you can make reservations for the ferries...it is well worth it...if you are trying to board during a busy weekend....you could be waiting for a loonnnggg time if you don't...especially considering that you are travelling in an RV.