Sointula’s location on a remote island in British Columbia means it’s the ultimate destination not just for fishing and spotting wildlife, but also for enjoying some peaceful rest and relaxation. However, the remote location also makes it a bit more challenging to travel to. 

With the nearest major airports in Vancouver and Seattle, those hoping to fly all the way to Malcolm Island will need to transfer to a seaplane in one of the two cities. This is the fastest way to get to Sointula, and a great way to enjoy some stunning aerial views. But seaplane tickets are often pricier than regular flights, and you’ll be restricted on how much luggage you can bring along. It can also be challenging to coordinate seaplane flights for a large group. 

Those who prefer to drive, want to save some money, or who are traveling in a large group with lots of luggage will instead find themselves taking a ride or two on BC Ferries. Wondering where to catch the ferry to Sointula, how to buy tickets, what the BC Ferry schedule is like, and how to get you and your car to Vancouver Island? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about BC Ferries.

The BC Ferries System

BCFerries is a system of ferry boats serving coastal British Columbia. The BC Ferries ships vary from smaller boats, like the one that transports travelers between the BC Ferries Port McNeill dock and the dock in Sointula, to larger boats that carry both cars and passengers between Canada’s mainland in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

In total, the BC Ferries system connects more than 30 different cities, towns, and other destinations all along the coast of British Columbia.

Riding the Ferry Between Vancouver and Vancouver Island

If you live in British Columbia or are simply planning to drive to start your Sointula adventure, you’ll need to catch a BC Ferry in Vancouver. There are two BC Ferry ports in the Vancouver area. One is South of the city in Tsawwassen. The other is North of the city in Horseshoe Bay. 

From the Point Roberts port, you’ll be able to choose from two different destinations on Vancouver Island; Nanaimo or Swartz Bay. If you catch the ferry at Horseshoe Bay, your only option is Nanaimo. Nanaimo is the closest option to Port McNeill, where you’ll be able to catch a second BC Ferry to Sointula. On this ferry, you’ll be able to bring your personal vehicle or rental car along. That way when you arrive on Vancouver Island, you can use it to explore, and to travel to Port McNeill.

Catching the Sointula Ferry 

After arriving on Vancouver Island, you’ll need to drive to Port McNeill. The drive from Nanaimo to Port McNeill takes just under 4 hours. But if you have the time, consider extending your visit to Sointula with a roadtrip across this incredible island!

After arriving in Port McNeill, you’ll need to plan to catch a second BC Ferry to Sointula. If you have some time to kill before you head to the BC Ferries Port McNeill dock, take some time to explore this unique port town. On this ferry ride, you can either leave your car at Port McNeill or bring it along. If you’re simply planning to explore the town of Sointula, it’s easily walkable, so you won’t have an issue if you plan to continue without your car.

Finding the BC Ferry Schedule

Once you’ve chosen your travel dates, you’ll want to look up the BC Ferry schedules. This includes both the schedule for ferries between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and the Port McNeill ferry schedule. It’s a good idea to go ahead and check the Sointula ferry schedule as well, so that you’ll know what your options are for returning to Vancouver Island once you’re done exploring.

Use the links below to check the ferry schedules for each leg of your journey:

Tips for Traveling By BC Ferries

BC Ferries makes it easy to travel in between Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Malcolm Island during your visit. But knowing a few tips ahead of time can help to make your trip go even more smoothly.

When traveling between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, you can purchase your tickets online ahead of time. This is a great option during busy travel seasons, when ferry rides may fill up quickly. Don’t forget to include your vehicle and all passengers when booking your ticket. 

Advance ticket sales are not available for ferry rides in between Port McNeill and Malcolm Island. Instead, they are sold at the port on a first come, first serve basis. While this ferry isn’t as busy, it’s still a good idea to arrive at the port early to ensure you can ride the ferry at the time you’ve chosen.

Planning Your Visit to Sointula

Whether you’re planning to utilize BC Ferries or arrive by seaplane, getting to Sointula is a part of the adventure!

Ready to start planning your next visit? Check out our planning resources today to get started!