vancouver to tofino transport options at sunset

4 Ways to Get to Tofino from Vancouver from $118.00

If you’re wondering how to get to Tofino from Vancouver you’re not alone – in fact, it’s probably the most complicated route between any two BC tourism stalwarts.

That said, getting from Vancouver to Tofino doesn’t have to be a real life Oregon Trail.

With my list of transport options you’ll be able to select the best way to get to Tofino from Vancouver for your budget and time constraints.

How Do You Get to Tofino from Vancouver?

map showing the distance for a drive between vancouver and tofino

For those unfamiliar: both Vancouver and Tofino are located on the west coast of Canada, but that doesn’t mean much when looking at it in a continental context.

In fact, Tofino is so remote that’s it’s actually the last stop before you cross the Pacific and hit Japan.

As you can see above, getting from Vancouver to Tofino involves crossing the Salish Sea to get to Vancouver Island first, before taking a small highway across.

The distance between the two places is about 300km and the average trip takes around 5 hours.

Let’s break down the Vancouver to Tofino transport options in full so you can start worrying about what to do in Tofino on your holiday.

seaplanes docked at the tofino seaplane terminal

The Seaplane – Fastest Way to Get from Vancouver to Tofino

Time: 60 minutes | Departure Point: Downtown Vancouver | Price: $269.99 one way

This is the best way to get from Vancouver to Tofino, and it’s my favourite for sheer experience.

The Vancouver to Tofino seaplane is the fastest way and it’s basically a tourist attraction in itself – the coastal rainforest views you get along the way are spectacular.

If you’re heading over for a special occasion weekend this is a fantastic cherry on top option, and the best part is they depart right from downtown Vancouver.

These are the only Vancouver to Tofino flights available and they depart daily from Coal Harbour at 12:00 pm (12:30 pm flight added in high season)

Flights must be booked way in advance as these 14 seater planes fill up quickly.

With the buttons below you can grab free cancellation tickets:

Driving – Best Value Way to Get from Vancouver to Tofino

Time: 5 Hours | Departure Point: Wherever you like! | Price: $170.00 ($340.00 return)

Getting from Vancouver to Tofino by car is a bit of a misnomer, as we’ve established earlier. You’re going to have to drive to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and get a two hour ferry across to the island first.

Expect to pay about $80.00-$110.00 to cross with two adults and a vehicle plus about $60.00 in gas one way.

From Nanaimo to Tofino it’s then a 2 hour and 45 minute drive along the Pacific Rim Highway (Highway 4). Along the way, you can stop at viewpoints to take in the stunning views of the coast and mountains.

You can also stop at the Cathedral Grove, which is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in Canada.

Tickets can be booked on BC Ferries.

Related: Best Hotels in Tofino
Instagram: @travelebus

Buses – The Cheapest Way to Get from Vancouver to Tofino

Time: 7 Hours | Departure Point: Various | Price: $118.00 ($236.00 return)

Getting to Tofino from Vancouver by bus is not the most recommended way, primarily because it is the slowest transportation and it is incredibly seasonal.

In fact, as of right now the Tofino Bus is out of service until May 2023.

Normally, this bus departs from one of seven stops in the city including many top Vancouver hotels and the Vancouver Cruise Terminal.

The buses are equipped with comfortable seats, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi. They also stop at various locations along the way, including Cathedral Grove, so you can take in the sights.

Looking for a shortcut? If you can find your own ferry transport as a foot passenger across to Nanaimo you can grab a one way bus from there for just $72.00:

Getting From Vancouver to Tofino Options FAQ

How far is it from Vancouver to Tofino?

The distance between Vancouver to Tofino is 284 kilometers including the ferry trip across the Salish Sea.

How to travel from Vancouver to Tofino?

To travel between Vancouver and Tofino you can drive in combination with a BC Ferries crossing to Nanaimo (five hours), take a bus (eight hours), or take a seaplane (one hour).

Is there a train from Vancouver to Tofino?

No, there is no train from Vancouver to Tofino as the two cities are separated by a body of water known as the Salish Sea. The ferries are not equipped to take trains on them, so other arrangements must be made.

Is there a ferry from Vancouver to Tofino?

There is no direct ferry from Vancouver to Tofino. Tofino is found on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, making a direct journey impractical as it would have to circle around the whole island. Ferries run from Vancouver to Nanaimo, where the journey to Tofino can continue.

What’s the best way to get from Vancouver to Tofino?

Taking a seaplane is the best way to get between Vancouver and Tofino. The seaplanes depart right from the heart of downtown Vancouver, take just one hour to get there (1/5th the time of the next method), and offer absolutely stunning views of the area’s coastal scenery.

How long does it take to get to Tofino from Vancouver?

The length of the trip between Vancouver and Tofino depends on your method of transport:

  • Driving: approximately five hours (three hours driving + two hour ferry)
  • Bus: approximately seven hours (five hours driving and stops + two hour ferry)
  • Seaplane: approximately one hour

Related: How to Get to Tofino from Victoria by Bus

Still Looking for Vancouver to Tofino Transport Options?

There are several transport options available to get from Vancouver to Tofino.

Each option has its own pros and cons, and the best option for you will depend on your budget, time, and personal preferences – though I suggest the seaplane for its speed and wow-factor.

That said, if you’re still on the fence about an option write me with your dilemma below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Hope you enjoy Tofino 😊


I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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