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vancouver to tofino transport options at sunset

4 Ways to Get to Tofino from Vancouver from $118.00

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

That said, getting to Vancouver Island’s west coast doesn’t have to be a real-life Oregon Trail.

With my list of transport options, you can 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 you look at it closer.

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

As you can see above, getting there involves crossing the Salish Sea to Vancouver Island before taking a small mountain highway to your destination.

vancouver whale tour banner

In total, the distance is about 300km. But in all honesty, it’ll likely feel much further, with the average trip taking around 5 hours. But don’t let this hold you back; we’ve got an option to cut down your travel time considerably.

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

seaplanes docked at the tofino seaplane terminal

The Seaplane – The Fastest Way to Get to Tofino

Time: 60 minutes | Departure Point: Downtown Vancouver | Price: $341.82 one-way

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

The Vancouver to Tofino seaplane is the fastest way, and it’s 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 trip is a fantastic cherry on top. And better yet, the planes depart right from downtown Vancouver.

These convenient flights depart daily from Coal Harbour at noon (12:30 pm flight added in high season)

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

With the button below, you can grab free cancellation tickets:

Driving – The Easiest Way to Get 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 Nanaimo first.

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

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

From Nanaimo to Tofino, it’s 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 Cathedral Grove, 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 to Tofino

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

Getting to Vancouver Island’s west coast by bus is not our most recommended method of transport. Firstly, it is the slowest transportation. But to make matters worse, the journey is currently only being offered from late spring until the fall.

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 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. The bus station is located right outside the ferry terminal.

Alternatively, if you’re already headed on a Vancouver to Victoria getaway, you can also look into the Victoria to Tofino bus.

Getting From Vancouver to Tofino FAQ

How far is it to Tofino from Vancouver?

The distance from Vancouver to Tofino is 284 kilometres, 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 ferry crossing to Nanaimo (five hours), take a bus (eight hours), or take a seaplane (one hour).

Is there a train from Vancouver to Tofino?

Unfortunately, there is no train, 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, as the city 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 Horseshoe Bay on the North Shore to Nanaimo, where the journey to Tofino can continue.

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

Taking a seaplane is the best way to get to Tofino from Vancouver. 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 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

Still Looking for Vancouver to Tofino Transport Options?

As you can see, several transport options are available to get to Vancouver Island’s hidden jewel.

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! But otherwise, enjoy your trip from Vancouver to Tofino.

Hope you enjoy Tofino.

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