The Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
Located in South Delta, the most well-known and visited place in Tsawwassen is its ferry terminal.
The community of Tsawwassen is home to around 20,000 people right next to the Canada-US border. The terminal, meanwhile, is over 50 acres in size and sticks out around 3 km into the Strait of Georgia. The terminal is entirely man-made. When boats aren’t docked there it looks sort of like a large, floating parking lot.
Tsawwassen is one of the two ferry terminals in the Lower Mainland, along with Horseshoe Bay which is in West Vancouver. The Tsawwassen terminal is bigger and has a wider variety of food vendors and shopping options.
The Tsawwassen terminal is around a one-hour drive from the heart of downtown Vancouver, or less in good traffic. You don’t want to get there right when your sailing is scheduled, however.
You should try to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure to make sure you get on the ferry. For those without a reservation, it’s recommended you arrive even earlier than that if it’s one of the busier routes and times. Plus, if you arrive early, you can check out the market and pick up a bite to eat.
NEW SPACE EXHIBITION IN TSAWWASSEN
If you like museums and things to do with outer space, then you’ll want to drop by Tsawwassen Mills Mall the next time you drive through Tsawwassen. Why? Because Sensea Immersive’s new Stargazer space exhibition is in town and it’s at the mall. The attraction is full of space-related information as well as films and a really cool virtual reality experience!
The Tsawwassen terminal serves as a hub for BC Ferries. From it you can sail to both Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. There are also routes to the Southern Gulf Islands of Salt Spring, Pender, Mayne, Galiano and Saturna. (Note: To get to the Sunshine Coast or Bowen Island you have to sail from Horseshoe Bay.)
The route between Tsawwassen and Victoria is the busiest. It goes via Swartz Bay which is on Vancouver Island about a 40 minute drive north of downtown Victoria.
The next busiest route from Tsawwassen is to Duke Point in Nanaimo. Tsawwassen is the only terminal that goes to both Victoria and Nanaimo. (Horseshoe Bay doesn’t go to Victoria. It just goes to Nanaimo via the Departure Bay Terminal, plus to Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast).
Below are the rates for the routes from Tsawwassen as of December, 2021. Note: Prices and other details are subject to change.
Tsawwassen to Victoria and Nanaimo
- Adult Passengers (12+): $17.60
- Child Passengers (5-11): $8.80
- Standard Vehicles: $59.50
Children ages 5 and younger are free.
Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands
- Adult Passengers (12+): $18.10
- Child Passengers (5-11): $9.05
- Standard Vehicles: $60.85 on weekdays, $68.55 on weekends (until April 1st, 2022)
The vehicle costs for all routes are in addition to the cost of all the passengers . Walk-on customers only have to pay the passenger fee. Vehicles longer than 20 feet in length cost more (e.g., between about an extra $1.80 to $6.75 per additional foot).
The most common way to make it to the terminal without a car is to arrive at Bridgeport Station in Richmond and then take the #620 bus to the terminal.
What to Expect at the Terminal
The endpoint of the terminal is connected to Tsawwassen by a long, thin stretch of road. Sitting out in the middle of the water, that endpoint is where people park their cars and wait in line for their ferry to board.
While waiting you can stay in your car the entire time, or you can get out and stretch your legs. When the weather is nice there can be nice views of the surrounding area if you walk over to the edge of the terminal.
If there’s more time to kill there are various amenities like a children’s play area, a designated pet area, and the Tsawwassen Quay Market.
The Tsawwassen Quay Market has around 20 different vendors. It’s a nice place to explore and a good way to kill time.
The terminal used to offer free Wi-Fi, and there used to be free Wi-Fi on the ferries too. The reception and service were so poor and unreliable, however, and customers were always complaining. As a result, the corporation stopped offering it altogether.
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To learn about things to do in BC’s capital city on Vancouver Island check out the website victoriasbestplaces.com.