The tour company also used to have Hop-on ferry services within Vancouver, as well as whale watching trips from Coal Harbour to Howe Sound.
Pacific Ferries in 2019!
Note: Pacific Ferries no longer offers whale watching or the other above-mentioned tour services. Instead, as of 2019, the company now offers an Indian Arm Tour and an Eco-Wildlife Excursion. The first is a 2.5 hour boat trip from Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver to Indian Arm (which is a beautiful fjord beginning at the eastern end of Burrard Inlet). The second is a 3-hour tour from Coal Harbour to different parts of Howe Sound.
For more information about these new tours in 2019, click Pacific Ferries & Tours. For details about the Island Hopping Tours from the previous year, see below.
Island Hopping Ferry Tours
One of the most amazing ways to experience coastal British Columbia in a day used to be taking one of Pacific Ferries’ Island Hopping tours. We did that with friends and it was phenomenal!
Tours last year ran about every second day in the summer and lasted for between 6 and 10 hours (all depending on how long you wanted to stay at Granville Island, which was the second-to-last destination).
The cost last year was around $185, but free for children under 5 years of age. Considering that it was a full-day activity and took passengers to remote destinations with world-class views along the way, it was well worth the price (especially on days with sunny weather).
Click Island Hopping Tours for Pacific Ferries’ website and more information.
Island Hopping Tour Video
Below is a video of scenes from our Island Hopping Tour in the summer of 2018. As you’ll see, the scenery along the way is amazing!
“We can’t recommend this trip enough!”
If you have friends visiting from overseas, or you’re visiting Vancouver yourself, and you want to experience rural coastal BC and see some of the region’s most stunning scenery, we can’t recommend this trip enough! You can see so much in just one day!
Especially if it’s a day with calm sunny weather, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
The Island Hopping Route
Departing from Coal Harbour
The Island Hopping tours started in the early morning, at about 8:45 am, from Coal Harbour near Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel at 1601 Bayshore Drive.
Passengers boarded the ferry at docks in front of the Westin Bayshore. From there the boat headed out into Burrard Inlet, past Brockton Point in Stanley Park, under the Lions Gate Bridge and along the coastline of West Vancouver towards Bowen Island.
On a sunny day, the city, mountains and ocean views along the way were breathtaking!
The trip from Coal Harbour to Bowen Island took just under an hour. The ferry would dock at the marina at Snug Cove and passengers were free to get off and explore.
The boat stayed at Bowen Island for about an hour, which was ample time to explore the immediate area. It wasn’t long enough to get far up the hill however, like to the Upper Village’s artisan market, unless taking a taxi. It was enough time though to explore the nearby shops, check out the marina, have a coffee and go for a stroll.
Click Bowen Island for more information about the tour’s first destination. It’s a beautiful place!
Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast
Gibsons is a small seaside town located on BC’s Sunshine Coast. It’s not on an island, but, like Bowen Island, it is only accessible by boat or air. There is no bridge from Metro Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast.
Most travellers to the Sunshine Coast go via BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, but to do so you really need a car as transit isn’t so convenient. A far more exotic way to get to the Sunshine Coast used to be via Pacific Ferries’ Island Hopping tour. Especially if only wanting to stay for a couple of hours, it was also, arguably, a more practical way (assuming you wanted to make a day out of the voyage to get there).
The trip from Bowen Island to the Sunshine Coast with Pacific Ferries took around 50 minutes and the boat remained in Gibsons for about two and a half hours.
In Gibsons, tour participants spent time on their own wandering around the town. There are a number of great places on the area to eat including Gibsons Tapworks, Beachcomber Coffee and Mike’s Place (the last of which is the place to go for gelato).
Molly’s Reach also serves excellent food (and is especially popular because of its role in the 1970s and 80s TV show The Beachcombers). Another local favourite is Smoke on the Water BBQ, which is right at the docks, serves locally-sourced food and has tasty vegetarian options.
The Return Trip Back to Vancouver
The Pacific Ferries’ boat returned to Vancouver from Gibsons at around 1:45 pm (plus or minus) and the trip back took about an hour. Instead of returning straight to Coal Harbour though, the ferry headed first to Granville Island.
Granville Island Visit
The Island Hopping Tour used to have a pre-end-of-tour stop at Granville Island. Passengers would say goodbye to the captain and crew at the dock and were then free to explore Granville Island for as long as they liked (or at least up until the time of the last boat back to Coal Harbour).
In addition to the Island Hopping Tours, Pacific Ferries also offered a Hop on Boat Tour service between Coal Harbour, the Shipyards (in North Vancouver) and Granville Island. Passengers on the Island Hopping Tour were welcome to stay on Granville Island and explore the area, and then, at their leisure, catch the Hop on Boat Tour ferry back to Coal Harbour (which departed approximately once every hour up until 7:00 pm).
For information about the Hop on Boat Tours, click Pacific Ferries’ Hop on City Tours.
For a list of things to do at this second-to-last destination, click Granville Island.
Return to Coal Harbour
As just mentioned above, Island Hopping Tour participants could catch one of Pacific Ferries‘ Hop on City Tour boats back to Coal Harbour at the end of their Granville Island stay.
The trip from Granville Island went along False Creek, under the Burrard Street Bridge, past Vanier Park, along the shore of Vancouver’s West End and out into English Bay. Along the way passengers could see English Bay Beach in the distance, as well as Stanley Park‘s Second Beach, Third Beach and Siwash Rock.
As everyone’s journey neared its end, passengers saw Canada Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre one last time from the water, as well as the seawall, skyscrapers and marina boats that line the Coal Harbour shoreline. It was a beautiful ending to a remarkable day!
For further information about places on the tour, and things to do at the various ports of call, click any of the following:
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Day Trips
- Vancouver’s Top Attractions
- Vancouver’s Best 100 Places
- Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar
- Vancouver Sightseeing Tours (which has information about Pacific Ferries, but also other tour company options).