One of Sointula’s most unique features is that your adventure will begin before you even arrive! With no bridges connecting Malcolm Island to the mainland or Vancouver Island, guests have a couple of options to choose from to get here. You could catch a seaplane ride from Vancouver or Seattle. Or, you can catch BC ferries from Alert Bay or Port McNeil.
If you plan to drive to Vancouver Island, BC ferries to Sointula are the best way to get to Malcolm Island. It’s just a short ride to our beautiful island. Unlike with a seaplane ride, you won’t have to worry about baggage restrictions. And it’s a far more affordable option for families, groups, couples, and individuals.
Planning your next visit to Sointula? Keep reading for the ultimate guide to using BC ferries to get here.
What to Know About Riding BC Ferries
Catching BC Ferries from Vancouver Island is a fast, easy way to get to Malcolm Island. Whether you’re driving to Vancouver Island locally, or you have a day’s drive from somewhere in the U.S. to get here, you can drive your car straight to one of several ports to catch a ride to Vancouver Island.
Getting to Vancouver Island on BC Ferries
The easiest ports to reach are both located near the city of Vancouver. The first is the Vancouver (Tsawwassen) port. This port is located south of the city, near Point Roberts. From this port, you can catch a ride to two locations on Vancouver Island. One takes you to some of the smaller islands near the southern edge of Vancouver Island. But the other is a direct route to Vancouver Island, at Nanaimo (Departure Bay). The other ferry terminal, Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay), is located just north of Vancouver. This ferry also provides direct routes to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) on Vancouver Island.
Getting to Malcolm Island on BC Ferries
After arriving in Nanaimo, you’ll have a little under a four-hour drive to Port McNeil, located near the northern edge of Vancouver Island. You’ll cruise along Vancouver Island’s beautiful coast, with plenty of opportunities for fun stops along the way. You can even turn this into a full day’s adventure before you head to Sointula for the rest of your trip.
From Port McNeil, you’ll catch a second ferry ride to Malcolm Island, where the port is conveniently located right in the middle of Sointula.
Getting Ready for Your Ferry Ride
While you can purchase ferry tickets upon arrival at your chosen Vancouver port, buying your tickets online ahead of time is a good way to avoid finding out that your chosen departure time is sold out. Tickets can be purchased online at bcferries.com.
Ticket prices vary depending on a number of factors, including the departure date and time, the age of the passengers, the size of your vehicle, and how far in advance you purchase your tickets. How many daily ferry departures there are from your chosen port will also vary depending on when in the year you plan to visit. You can find out what time departures are available each day, and estimate the cost of your ride, using the BC Ferries fare calculator.
Tickets are also required for your BC Ferries ride from Port McNeil on Vancouver Island to Malcolm Island. However, these tickets can only be purchased in person, not in advance. Departure times vary depending on the time of year, but there are often many departure times spread throughout the day, making it easy to get to and from Malcolm Island during your trip.
Tips for Your Next BC Ferries Ride
Riding the ferry is a fun, easy way to start your vacation in Sointula BC. But there are a few tips you can follow to help your trip go more smoothly.
Purchasing your tickets in advance can help you avoid long waits at the port. If you don’t purchase your tickets in advance, consider traveling at off-peak times to avoid waits. For instance, holidays, especially during the summer months, tend to be busy. But weekdays often see fewer crowds. Booking ferry rides during off-peak times is also a great way to save some money. Saver fares are available for off-peak trips between Vancouver Island and Vancouver for as low as $39 for a standard vehicle and one driver.
Arrive at the port terminal at least 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time if you’ll be taking your vehicle on the ferry. This will give you time to check in and get in line in the right place. During your ferry ride, avoid activating your vehicle alarm. The motion of the ferry can sometimes set off car alarms while in transit. Check your vehicle for oil or other fluid leaks before your ferry ride as well. These leaks and spills can impact BC’s coastlines and the wildlife that lives here.
Booking Your Next Sointula BC Adventure
Ready to start planning your next visit to Sointula? Before you book your ferry tickets, you’ll want to book your accommodations on Malcolm Island. Check out our planning resources to find the right choice for your next vacation!