Floatplane Ride Home With Harbour Air

We finished off our Jasper trip in true Island fashion with a floatplane tour all the way back home to Vancouver Island! Come fly along with us!

I remember the first time I traveled by airplane.

I was 16 years old and going to visit my oldest brother in southern California. I had a window seat and couldn’t take my eyes off the landscape. It all seemed so unreal….rivers winding like snakes and farmland laid out like a patchwork quilt. Watching things from the air sure gives a different perspective.

We had just arrived back in Vancouver after a wonderful trip on VIA Rail to Jasper and were heading back home to Vancouver Island.

The train dropped us off on the outskirts of downtown, but after a short ride on Vancouver’s Skytrain, we found ourselves right in the heart of downtown on the ocean and it was such a lovely day.

Normally we head home by way of the ferry. It’s usually a nice passage, but today, we chose to try out the float plane.

Living on an island is wonderful and we love it, but let’s be honest, sometimes it’s a pain getting on and off of it. I know, crazy right?  Those who come to the island for vacation love the ferry. And I do too, but sometimes as an Islander you just want to get home a little faster.  With Harbour Air we felt we were able to enjoy the best of both worlds…the relaxed, breathtaking beauty of island life with the speed and ease of a floatplane.

We usually have to add at least 3 hours onto our travel time just to cross the water. But not today.  Today, it only took a fraction of that time.

Vancouver downtown cruise ship

On this gorgeous, sunny day we walked down Vancouver’s iconic waterfront, past the 2010 Olympic flame, past a giant cruise ship docked at Canada place, past the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver and hopped on a Harbour Air floatplane.

When we checked in at the desk, they weighed our luggage and even asked us our approximate weight.

I’m not accustomed to sharing these numbers with strangers, but figured they needed it for good reason so I relinquished them, shaving off about 10 pounds just to make myself feel better.

Harbour Air, Harbour Air Vancouver Terminal, Floatplane Tours

There was such an ease and relaxed nature about this whole process. Instead of being in a loud, crowded airport with a zillion gates and security corridors, we found ourselves able to slow down and look out the windows at the water. When it was time to board, we simply walked down the dock to our aircraft.

Floatplane, Harbour Air

I stepped into the tiny float plane, chose my seat (all 10 of them are good), and watched out the window as the workers stowed my luggage in the “legs” of the plane.  You know, the parts the touch the water and keep it floating…who knew that’s where the luggage on a float plane went?!

I chuckled to myself, realizing I should have shared my correct weight because it probably does matter, given this is such a small plane and then was immediately grateful for being a light packer.

As we set to take off, I took it all in.

There were no flight attendants to walk us through the safety features of the aircraft, just a short safety video on the pilot’s iPad. Normally, I would be concerned on a flight if my plane was trying to land on water, but not this time!

There would be no refreshment on this flight, it would be too short for that. So I sat back and watched people walking along the sea wall. I watched the busy harbour life of water taxis and personally owned boats traveling the waters.

And as the engine started and we rode the waters to our “runway” I got the butterflies in my tummy that always come at take-off.

Harbour Air, Floatplane taking off, Vancouver activities

As the plane lifted into the air, the butterflies flew away and the wonder of the beauty before me settled in.

Harbour Air, Floatplane tours VancouverPhoto Courtesy of Harbour Air

Every seat on our plane was full, so Jay got to join the pilot in the cockpit and wear a headset.  I’m sure he enjoyed conversation with the pilot, but I just loved looking out my window!

Harbour Air, flying with Harbour Air, Floatplane ride, Vancouver floatplane

We took off and I watched as downtown Vancouver shrank before me. Flying west toward the island, my eyes tried to take it all in.  The beauty of this place is stunning.

With crystal blue waters and clear skies, I watched barges, sailboats, yachts and even BC Ferries navigate the harbour and Strait of Georgia.

Harbour Air, view from floatplane, Vancouver Island floatplane,

Harbour Air, BC Ferries, Floatplane

See, there’s our friend BC Ferries who still have about an hour left in their journey.

And in 20 minutes, our ariel tour/ride home was over.  We had left the hustle and bustle of big city Vancouver behind and just minutes later stepped onto the quiet and peaceful dock of Nanaimo. What usually takes us 3 hours, was shortened to a mere 20 minutes.

Floatplane, Vancouver Island, Victoria Tours, Harbour Air
Photo Courtesy of Harbour Air

It was so easy, quite affordable and such a pleasant way to get back home to Vancouver Island.


• Looking for a floatplane ariel tour? Harbour Air also offers plenty of those experiences and packages from a glacier fly by or dining in Whistler, to Butchart gardens in Victoria. All of it just a floatplane ride from downtown Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler or many other West Coast destinations.

• Harbour Air has regular flights to Vancouver Island, 40 minutes to downtown Victoria and 20 minutes to Nanaimo. We have seen flights as low as $75 one way. If you find yourself staying in Vancouver and are limited on time, a float plane is a great way to get to Victoria quickly without using so much of your time on the ferry. Victoria is an easy day trip destination from downtown Vancouver!

Harbour Air flies year-round, but only during daylight, so plan your trip accordingly.

Floatplane Tours, Vancouver Activities, Victoria Tours


While our experience with our friends at Harbour Air was discounted, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.


  • Taking a float plane is something I would like to do but as I am scared of flying, I don't know if I would have the courage to actually take the leap! The views look incredible though :) - Reply

    • It was definitely a different feeling...knowing how much closer to the water we were than other flights I've taken. But the idea that it's already designed to land on water can be a bit more comforting in case there is an emergency water landing. :) You should give it a try sometime, Katie, if the opportunity presents itself. -g - Reply

  • I flew for the first time at 16 also but I still haven't made it on a seaplane. When we drive through Maine we see one on Lake Sebago and we always say we should arrange a flight. It looks so fun! - Reply

    • It really is so fun, Tamara. Next time you see that plane, just DO IT! :) Especially if it's a beautiful day. You won't ever forget the experience. -g - Reply

  • I love to fly but I'll admit that the floatplanes scare me. Still, I'd definitely give one a try to have those views! You're so lucky to live in such a gorgeous area! - Reply

    • There's really nothing to fear, Amy. It's already prepared for a water landing! :) I feel so blessed to live here on Vancouver Island. Every time I come home, I remind Jay how wonderful this place is. When are you coming for a visit? -g - Reply

  • How cool is that! I never new you could do that to get to Vancouver Island. I hate flying in a big plane so I'm not sure how I'd go on such a small one. Do you feel the movement more in the smaller plane? - Reply

    • There's some movement, but it's not bad at all. I don't know if that's because we're flying so low or what, but it was very enjoyable. And the views are stunning! You should try it sometime...even though you're a bit fearful. :) -g - Reply