When planning a trip to Sointula, visitors have one big decision to make—how will you get to Malcolm Island? Malcolm Island is located off the coast of Vancouver Island. With no bridges connecting the two islands, visitors have two options for getting there; by air or by sea. For the first, you’ll need to take a seaplane trip. Unless you have access to a private boat, you’ll need to travel by BC Ferries in order to reach the island by sea.

Both a BC Ferries ride and a seaplane flight are great options, and there’s no wrong answer. But there are a few reasons why one might be a better choice for you and your travel companions than the other. 

If you’re ready to start planning your next visit to Sointula, keep reading as we compare the two options to help you make the right choice for your trip.

Why Take a Seaplane Trip

Want to get to the island as quickly as possible to get your vacation started? Or maybe you want to enjoy an incredible aerial tour of coastal British Columbia before your getaway even starts. Then you’ll definitely want to take a seaplane trip to get to Sointula!

Seaplane flights are by far the fastest way to get to Malcolm Island. Northwest Seaplanes operates direct seaplane flights between Seattle, Washington, and Sointula/Port McNeil. They operate out of Renton Airport, a small airport located on South Lake Washington, just a short drive from downtown Seattle. You can either drive to this airport and use their free on-site parking or use the complimentary shuttle from the Seattle Airport.

You can book both regularly scheduled tours and private chartered seaplane flights. Scheduled flights are cheaper, but chartered flights will give you more flexibility over when you travel.

Drawbacks of a Seaplane Trip

If you’re in a hurry to get to Sointula, short on time, or want to enjoy an aerial view, you’ll want to take a seaplane trip. However, there are a few downsides to this option.

To start, seaplane flights are more expensive than a ride on BC Ferries. You’ll also be limited on how much luggage you can bring with you. Passengers are restricted to just 25 pounds of luggage per person, and only soft-sided bags are allowed. If your bags are overweight, they will be subject to an additional charge. Overweight bags are only allowed onto flights on a limited basis. If you’re planning a longer trip or bringing any outdoor gear with you, a seaplane flight might not be a great option.

Why Ride BC Ferries

A ride on BC Ferries is another great way to get to Sointula. You’ll actually need to take two ferry rides to get to Malcolm Island. The first will take you between mainland Canada and Vancouver Island. The second will connect you from Port McNeil, on Vancouver Island, and the town of Sointula. This second BC Ferries ride will deposit you directly in downtown Sointula and is just 25 minutes long.

A BC Ferries ride is a comfortable, fun way to travel between British Columbia’s coastal islands. You can spot whales, dolphins, and other wildlife on your ride. This also allows you to bring your personal vehicle or a rental vehicle, which means that you won’t be restricted on the luggage that you bring. If you’re planning to do some Malcolm Island camping or want to be able to drive around the island, this is a must.

BC Ferries are a great choice for families or groups because they can help you save a lot of money on your trip. Traveling by BC Ferries also means that you can extend your trip with a visit to Vancouver Island.

Drawbacks of BC Ferries Sointula

There are a few downsides to traveling by BC Ferries Sointula. To start, this option does take much longer than a seaplane flight. You’ll first need to drive to a BC Ferries port in Vancouver. Then, you’ll face a two-hour ride to Vancouver Island. After you arrive, you’ll then need to drive around three and a half hours to Port McNeil, where you’ll catch your second BC Ferries to get to Sointula.

If you fly into Vancouver, this does mean that you’ll need to rent a car to get to Sointula, which is an additional expense for your trip.

Planning Your Sointula Adventure

If you’re in a hurry to get your trip started, don’t want to drive, or want to enjoy an exciting start to your vacation, you’ll want to take a seaplane trip to get to Sointula. But if you have more time on your hands, want to add a side trip to Vancouver Island, or are looking to save some money, a BC Ferries Sointula ride is a great alternative and still an excellent way to get to Malcolm Island.

Either way, you can’t go wrong! Now that you know more about your options for getting to Sointula, it’s time to start planning the rest of your trip. From your Sointula lodging to the activities you’ll enjoy each day, there are plenty more [fun] decisions to make! Check out our planning resources to get started today.