Vancouver Island Planning & Tips

Documents
Required documents for entering Canada vary, depending on citizenship and whether traveling by air or land. It's best to bring passports. Children ages 15 and younger may enter with a certified copy of their birth certificate. If traveling with only one parent, kids will also need a consent letter. Read up on rules for entering Canada and re-entering the US before you go.

The Art of Smart Timing
With its mild marine climate, Vancouver Island is a year-round destination, but outdoor activities will be more inviting during spring and summer. Warmer summer temperatures range from the high 60s to low 70s with little rainfall, but pack fleece and rain jackets just in case. Summer is peak tourist season, and Victoria, Tofino, and Parksville get busy, so be sure to book accommodations in advance.

Getting There and Around
Vancouver Island is big, and the best way to navigate the distances is by car. How you get to the island will depend on where you're coming from. If you're flying into the region, the two closest international airports are Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport and Vancouver International, just south of downtown Vancouver.

From Seattle:
Victoria Clipper. Catch the passenger-only Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle for a two-hour journey that debarks in downtown Victoria Harbour. Look for package deals on the website. Victoria is highly walkable and public transport will get you to attractions nearby.

Black Ball Ferries. From Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula (approximately 3 hours from Seattle), sail into Victoria Harbour on the Black Ball car/foot passenger ferry. Look for package deals on the ferry website that eliminate reservation fees. This ferry option is slightly less expensive than the BC ferries.

Washington State Ferries. Sail from Anacortes on a car/passenger ferry through the San Juan Islands to Sidney, approximately 30 minutes north of Victoria. Reservations recommended.

From Seattle or Vancouver:
BC Ferries. Sail from Tsawwassen (about three hours north of Seattle) to Swartz Bay, 30 minutes north of Victoria. These ferries run every hour, and reservations are recommended, especially during summer. BC ferries are not cheap; be prepared for some sticker shock, but keep in mind Americans may benefit depending on the current exchange rate.

Visitor Bureaus
Tourism Victoria
Tourism Nanaimo
Tourism Tofino
Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce


25 Top-Rated Family Hotels in Vancouver Island


Vancouver Island Family Hotels
Traveling Family with Baby

Your personal family vacation planning starts now

Get expert advice, handpicked recommendations, and tips for your family all year round!