Everything you need to know about taking USA Ferries to Vancouver Island at your finger tips! Check out our pros and cons list to help you decide what to do.
Everything you need to know about the 3 USA ferries to Vancouver Island:
There are three different ferries that operate between Vancouver Island and the United States.
We have experienced both USA vehicle ferries traveling to Vancouver Island, but have not had the opportunity to see what the passenger-only Victoria Clipper ferry is like for ourselves as of yet.
All the info you need to know on how to get to Vancouver Island from the United States by sea is finally at your fingertips!
1. Black Ball Ferry To Vancouver Island (Vehicle & Passenger)
If your travels take you up the Oregon Coast into the Olympic National Park, then the Black Ball Ferry (M.V. Coho) out of Port Angeles is an excellent choice to make your way to Vancouver Island and better yet, all the way to downtown Victoria Harbour.
• Passenger & Vehicle Ferry with a 90 minute crossing and only one destination – Victoria Harbour.
• From experience, we highly recommend making a reservation and paying the extra $11 to guarantee your vehicle’s spot. The Black Ball Ferry to Vancouver Island runs so infrequently (especially during the non-summer months) that you don’t want to risk missing a ferry for lack of space. See Black Ball Ferry Schedule.
• Be sure to go online to make your reservation and book your ticket to get the best rate possible. Go online to cohoferry.com to see all their rates including passenger and vehicles.
Directions To The Port Angeles Ferry Terminal (USA Side) For Your Ferry Trip To Victoria Harbour On Vancouver Island.
Pros To Taking The Black Ball Ferry To Vancouver Island:
• When you take the Black Ball Ferry (M.V. Coho), you’ll know exactly how long your wait at the border crossing will be since it’s only the amount of cars that were with you on the ferry.
• We love getting to Vancouver Island from the USA this way because it takes us up highway 101 which is a famous scenic drive up the Oregon and Washington coast. Beautiful ocean vistas, large old growth trees, rugged ocean cliff-side beauty await those who take this route. If you have the time be sure to slow down, take a walk along the beach and enjoy the quaint beach towns along the way, you won’t regret it.
If you’re in the mood for a vacation that avoids the hustle and bustle of the big cities and busy highways, then this is the route to Vancouver Island for you.
• The Black Ball Ferry options drops you off directly in the Victoria Harbour which is an ideal starting place for your trip to Vancouver Island.
Cons To Taking The Black Ball Ferry To Vancouver Island:
• The M.V. Coho ferry (Black Ball) is nothing like BC Ferries and other world class ferries in terms of service, look & feel, comfort, dining, scenery, etc… I once saw a notice sign that had to be from 1968. The scenery is the same the whole way over… just plain old ocean in all directions. The most boring ferry scenery of all three USA ferries to Vancouver Island.
• If you decide to risk it without a reservation, you could find yourself stuck on a peninsula or contemplating a long unexpected drive to your next option which is a Washington State Ferry or even heading all the way to Canada for a BC Ferry. We just decided to get a hotel when it happened to us in order to avoid the long drive with kids.
2. Washington State Ferry To Vancouver Island (Vehicle & Passenger)
SPECIAL AND SAD NOTICE: the Anacortes to Sydney ferry has been discontinued with a targeted reopening in 2030.
Washington State operates a whole fleet of ferries that are designed both for passengers and vehicles along the West Coast of Washington. The ferry route you are interested in is the Anacortes Ferry to Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island.
• The Washington State Ferry to Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island does not operate during the winter months. Spring and Fall they offer one sailing, while during the summer months they increase sailing times. You can view the current schedule online.
• The Washington State Ferry to Vancouver Island is about a 3 hour sailing depending on the route through the San Juan Islands. This is the longest ferry crossing of all USA ferries to Vancouver Island, but it may just be the most scenic.
• The Washington State ferry out of Anacortes will take you to Sidney, BC, which is about 30 minutes outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you are traveling on foot you will want to hop on the BC Transit System for your ride to Victoria. For $2.50 the bus will take you all the way to Victoria Harbour which is a great place to spend the day and get your bearings. There is always the option of taking a taxi to Victoria, but that will set you back about $65.00 CDN.
Directions To The Anacortes Ferry Terminal (USA Side) For Your Ferry Trip To Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island (just outside of Victoria)
Pros To Taking The Washington State Ferry To Vancouver Island:
• One advantage to traveling to Vancouver Island on a USA Ferry is that it will be no surprise as to how long your border crossing will be. That can be a significant plus to taking this route as USA/Canada border crossings during the popular tourist Summer months can be very busy.
• This ferry route to Vancouver Island takes you directly through the breathtaking San Juan Islands.
• If you miss your ferry at this location, it is an easy drive up to Canada to BC Ferries. BC Ferries have sailings departing for Vancouver Island pretty much every hour all day long in every season.
Cons To Taking The Washington State Ferry To Vancouver Island:
• Be prepared for a more simple ferry experience. Unlike BC Ferries and the Victoria Clipper, the Washington State ferry has transporting people and vehicles as the main objective and is not trying to be a sudo-cruise ship.
• Less frequent ferry times means you need to plan around the ferry times.
3. Victoria Clipper Ferry To Vancouver Island (Passenger Only)
Details: Victoria Clipper offers passenger-only ferry service with year-round daily transport between downtown Victoria Harbour and Seattle. Positioned more like a vacation activity experience than just a here-to-there ferry, you are sure to notice the 1st class service right away.
If you’re traveling in the Seattle or Portland area it’s easy to include a Vancouver Island experience to your travel plans.
Hop on a Victoria Clipper high-speed passenger-only ferry from Seattle for a three-hour cruise through Puget Sound direct to downtown Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
World famous Victoria has more than enough things to see and do for a day trip destination. Although, as you’ll come to learn, one day just isn’t enough time to truly experience this iconic seaside city on South Vancouver Island.
More info on the Victoria clipper sailing times, fares and vacation packages visit clippervacations.com
Directions To The Victoria Clipper Ferry Terminal (USA Side – In Seattle) For Your Ferry Trip To Victoria Harbour On Vancouver Island:
Cons: With one-way passenger-only fares starting at $100 this is the most expensive option to get yourself to Vancouver Island by a USA ferry. If you have a car, you’ll need to factor in the parking garage price as well.
Although the Pro on this one is that it is super convenient to travel from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria. Add a roundtrip fare for a few more dollars and you can see how it is easy for those living in Seattle to go on a Vancouver Island getaway.
If you’re purely looking for a Victoria vacation package experience Clipper Vacations is a great one-stop shop option as they work hard to make everything as seamless and enjoyable as possible.