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South Vancouver Island is the southernmost and the most populous region of Vancouver Island. It contains BC's provincial capital, Victoria.


Map of South Vancouver Island
Map of South Vancouver Island region

Greater Victoria and the West Coast Road[edit]

  • 1 Victoria — the capital city of British Columbia that markets itself as a piece of England.
  • 2 Langford — the hub of "Westshore", a group of municipalities to the west of Victoria.
  • 3 Port Renfrew — a 2-hour scenic drive from Victoria on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Port Renfrew is a small west coast community that was built by logging and fishing. It sits along 250 km of rugged uninhabited coastline.
  • 4 Sidney — a relaxing city 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, 5 minutes from the Victoria International Airport, quiet, on the Waterfront with quaint little shops. A tourist vacation and retirement location with waterfront walkways and bicycle paths.
  • 5 Sooke — a good base for visiting Whiffen Spit, where you can watch the seals eat salmon and fish as they are washed out of the basin, and hike the trails of East Sooke Park.

Cowichan Valley[edit]

  • 6 Duncan — Agricultural town between Victoria and Nanaimo, home of the world's largest hockey stick. Cowichan Bay, a pretty little seaside village, is nearby.
  • 7 Chemainus — 10 minutes north of Duncan; known for its tourist-attracting murals, plenty of tourist shops and a world-class playhouse.
  • 8 Ladysmith — 20 minutes south of Nanaimo, tourist town, many shops down main street. Heritage town with restored buildings and beautiful Transfer Beach. Known for its annual Festival of Lights during the third week in November. Also voted one of the top ten towns in Canada as published by Harrowsmith Magazine.
  • 9 Lake Cowichan Lake Cowichan on Wikipedia – Community with outdoor activities on Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan River.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Juan de Fuca Provincial Park — the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail follows 47 km of wilderness stretching along the western shoreline of the southern island.
  • 2 Pacific Rim National Park Reserve — rugged coasts and lush temperate rainforests spread out across Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail.


Get in[edit]

Most travellers will arrive in Greater Victoria (Victoria/Sidney), either by ferry or by plane. There is also the Trans-Canada Highway that connects Victoria to the rest of the island.

By boat[edit]

From within British Columbia[edit]

BC Ferries, toll-free: +1-888-223-3779. Operates ferries connecting coastal communities. BC Ferries (Q795723) on Wikidata BC Ferries on Wikipedia Operates ferry routes in Southern Vancouver Island — two to the Southern Gulf Islands and one to Metro Vancouver.

  • Route connecting with the Lower Mainland
    • Vancouver (Tsawwassen) ferry terminal (in Delta) to 1 Victoria (Swartz Bay) Swartz Bay ferry terminal on Wikipedia near Sidney - 1 hour 35 minutes crossing, operating at least once every 2 hours from 7 am to 9 pm and up to hourly in the summer. Public transit at both terminals.
  • Routes connecting with the Southern Gulf Islands
    • Salt Spring Island (Fulford Harbour) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) near Sidney - 35 minutes crossing with eight departures daily. Public transit at both terminals.
    • Galiano Island (Sturdies Bay), Mayne Island (Village Bay), Pender Island (Otter Bay), Saturna Island (Lyall Harbour), and Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) near Sidney (crossing times vary depending on destination and stops along the way). Public transit only at Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour) and Victoria (Swartz Bay).
    • Salt Spring Island (Vesuvius Bay) to 2 Crofton near Duncan - 25 min crossing with 10-13 departures daily. Public transit at both terminals.
    • Penelakut Island (Telegraph Harbour and Thetis Island (Preedy Harbour) to 3 Chemainus - 30-60 minutes crossing with 11 departures daily. Public transit near Chemainus ferry terminal only.

From Washington state in the United States of America[edit]

Caution Note: The Sidney-Anacortes ferry service has been suspended and will not resume until at least 2030.
(Information last updated 01 Mar 2023)
  • 4 Black Ball Ferry Line (MV Coho), 430 Belleville St, Victoria, +1 250-386-2202, toll-free: +1-800-264-6475. Is a passenger and vehicle ferry running between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Crossing time is 90 minutes. Service runs all year except for an annual refit for one week in winter time. In the winter, this ferry runs 2 sailings a day and in the summer up to 4 sailings per day each way are scheduled. Fares are US$70.00 for car and driver and US$21.00 per passenger 12 years old and older, US$10.50 for children 5-11 years old, free for children 4 years old and younger. Puget Sound Navigation Company (Q7258930) on Wikidata Puget Sound Navigation Company on Wikipedia
  • 5 Victoria Clipper, Belleville St, Victoria (Belleville St just west of Oswego St), +1 206-443-2560, toll-free: +1-800-888-2535. Direct passenger only ferry between Victoria harbour and Pier 69 at the Seattle waterfront. Some of the sailings make an additional stop in Friday Harbor, going both directions. Crossing time is 2.75 hours.
  • 6 Washington State Ferries, 2499 Ocean Ave, Sidney (About 1 km south of downtown Sidney). Operates seasonal service (late March to late December) to Sidney connecting with Anacortes via Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The ferry makes one round trip per day in the Spring and Fall, and two round trips in the Summer. Reservations can be made online. For security and immigration processing when travelling between the two countries, a 60 minute advance arrival at the terminal is strongly suggested. Walk on passengers need to arrive 30 minutes in advance. Vehicle reservations are recommended. Passports are required to enter either country. Service to Sidney has been suspended since the Covid-19 pandemic and the operator has announced that service to Sidney is suspended until at least 2030 due to the lack of available ferries and crew. Washington State Ferries (Q3500373) on Wikidata Washington State Ferries on Wikipedia

By car[edit]

The main highways into South Vancouver Island are Highways 1 and 17.

  • Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) crosses to Vancouver Island via BC Ferries' route between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) in West Vancouver to Nanaimo (Departure Bay), a crossing of 1 hour 40 minutes. The highway continues from Nanaimo to Victoria, taking about 1.5 hours.
  • BC Highway 17 connects the region to Metro Vancouver by ferry to Victoria (Swartz Bay) from Vancouver (Tsawwassen).

By bus[edit]

  • BC Ferries Connector, toll-free: +1-888-788-8840. offers an express coach service between Vancouver and Victoria. This bus service runs on BC Ferries, and tickets can be purchased on board for the trip into town. Despite the "express" name, this bus takes the same or more time than the transit bus in Vancouver, although it is a much more comfortable ride. Travel time between Vancouver and Victoria is 4 hours. As of April 2022, cost from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria is approx $68 one way, or approximately $20 for the trip from the ferry terminal to downtown Victoria..
  • IslandLink Bus, . Operates daily using a hub and spoke bus service with hubs in Nanaimo and Buckley Bay. Trips run non-stop from the hub to the destination area. This system works well if direct travel would run by a hub anyway, but can result in significant detours if direct travel would not pass by either hub. Using this service, the hubs connect to Campbell River, Oyster River, Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, Bowser, Parksville, Nanaimo, Duncan, and Mill Bay, and Victoria. As of January 30, 2023, service is also available to Port Alberni, Tofino, and Ucluelet, though trip frequency ranges from 3 days per week in the winter to daily in the summer.
  • Tofino Bus (Vancouver Island Connector). Seasonal service operating between May to October with routes daily on Vancouver Island between Victoria and Tofino, and between Victoria and Campbell River. Both routes travel between Victoria and Parksville with stops in Langford, Duncan, Ladysmith, and Nanaimo. The route to Tofino continues with stops in Coombs, Port Alberni and Ucluelet. The route to Campbell River continues with stops in Qualicum Beach, Bowser, Courtenay, and Oyster River.
  • West Coast Trail Express, +1-250-477-8700, toll-free: +1-888-999-2288. Seasonal service allowing hikers of the West Coast Trail to reach the northern (Bamfield) and southern (Port Renfrew) ends of the trail. Operates route that connects Victoria with Port Renfrew, Gordon River, and Bamfield. The route operates from May 1 to September 30.

By air[edit]

7 Victoria International Airport (YYJ IATA) Victoria International Airport on Wikipedia near Sidney is the largest airport in the region with daily flights to Vancouver and some cities on the US west coast (Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco). Floatplanes and helicopters also fly into Victoria's Inner Harbour. This is the only airport in South Vancouver Island with scheduled commercial flights.


There are seaplane facilities with scheduled commercial flights at Victoria's harbour and at Maple Bay (near Duncan). Seaplane routes connect frequently from-to downtown Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport (YVR IATA).

Get around[edit]

By public transit[edit]

BC Transit operates bus systems including Victoria Regional Transit System (serving Langford, Sidney, Sooke, and Victoria) and Cowichan Regional Valley Transit system (serving Chemainus, Crofton, Duncan, and Ladysmith). The following Intercity bus service is also available:

  • Routes 44 and 66 between Victoria and Duncan with a stop in Langford. Route 66 is available on weekdays, but only in the morning to Victoria and in the afternoon to Duncan. Route 44 is available for several daytime trips on Saturdays. Operated by Cowichan Regional Valley Transit System.
  • Route 70 between Duncan and Nanaimo with a stop in Ladysmith. Operates Monday to Saturday. Operated by Cowichan Regional Valley Transit System.and Regional District of Nanaimo Transit System.


Victoria Harbour

Museums and culture[edit]

Ross Fountain at Butchart Gardens north of Victoria
  • The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria has permanent exhibits on modern, natural and First Nations history, a number of ongoing temporary exhibits, and the largest IMAX screen in British Columbia.
  • Emily Carr, one of Canada's most famous artists, spent some of her childhood in Victoria. Her childhood home is now a museum and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria hosts a number of her paintings.
  • See restored vintage airplanes at the BC Aviation Museum and learn about local ocean life at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Center, both in Sidney.
  • The domed neo-Baroque and Romanesque Revival architecture of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings is a distinctive feature of Victoria's waterfront. The buildings have free public tours.
  • Learn about logging and its history on Vancouver Island at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan.
  • Perhaps more manor house than traditional European castles, Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria and Hatley Castle near Langford, have interesting architecture and are open for public viewing.

Gardens, parks and beaches[edit]

  • Butchart Gardens, in Brentwood Bay just north of Victoria, is a popular attraction with 55 acres of gardens and 900 different varieties of plants.
  • Beacon Hill Park is an urban park near downtown Victoria with views, walking paths and a petting zoo for the kids.
  • There are a range of beaches to view and relax at, ranging from neighbourhood beaches like Cadboro Bay Beach in Victoria to the rugged stony beaches of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.


A section of the Galloping Goose Trail
  • Whale watching tours are available from Victoria harbour.
  • Do a multi-day hike like the Juan de Fuca Trail in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park or the West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
  • Take in the views on one of the shorter hikes at many of the parks in the regions. Some notable ones include Mount Douglas Park near Victoria and Goldstream Provincial Park near Langford.
  • Much of Greater Victoria is connected by multi-use trails that are good for walking or biking. The Galloping Goose Trail connects downtown Victoria to Langford and Sooke, while the Lochside Trail connects Saanich (north of Victoria) to Sidney.
  • Halibut and salmon fishing is popular out of Port Renfrew.
  • There is good birdwatching at Sidney Spit and the Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary in Sidney, and Holland Creek near Ladysmith.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Central Vancouver Island – With beaches and big trees, hikes and kayaking, whale watching and salmon fishing, caves and surfing, the central part of Vancouver Island is a haven for outdoor recreation. Nanaimo, the largest city, is a 1½-hour drive from Victoria on Trans-Canada Highway 1.
  • Southern Gulf Islands – The laid-back and slower paced group of islands between Victoria and Nanaimo in the Strait of Georgia.
  • Vancouver – Vibrant, multicultural and the largest city in British Columbia, Vancouver has parks, museums, trails of all types and some beautiful scenery. It's a 1½-hour ferry ride from Swartz Bay or catch a short flight from Victoria.
  • Olympic Peninsula (Washington state) – Known for its rugged beauty with rain forests against a spine of dramatic mountains and miles of isolated beaches. It's a 1½-hour ferry ride from Victoria across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This region travel guide to South Vancouver Island is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.