Making the pilgrimage: the journey, enjoy the journey. You are going to a land far, far away. Few have heard of and few will ever travel to. Because of the long journey, all participants are welcome to arrive one day prior to the scheduled program with no extra charge. Please note that the scheduled start and end dates of all programs are for arrival and departure, no class takes place on those dates.
Lasqueti Island, B.C. is nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. It is south of Texada Island, east of Hornby Island, north of Saltspring Island and west of the Sunshine Coast. Due west of Vancouver. There are 6 airports to choose from for your journey, YVR, Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, and Comox. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. The following details explain the many ways to here.
FYI: AMERICANS NEED PASSPORTS TO ENTER CANADA
The ferry to Lasqueti departs from French Creek at 945am, 2:30pm and 5:30pm. French Creek is between Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo.
There is a proposed passenger ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, downtown to downtown, that is expected to operate in the summer of 2019. Let me know if you hear of this schedule.
The ideal Journey from Vancouver: Take the 830am ferry from Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver to Departure Bay, Nanaimo. Book with Tofinobus.com online in advance to pick you up outside the Departure bay terminal going to Qualicum Beach. Tofinobus is willing to drop passengers off at French Creek.
NOTE: Tofinobus has changed to viconnector.com . There are two buses going north from Nanaimo, one turns west at Parksville and one that goes north to Qualicum Beach/Campbell River. Make sure you are on that bus with a ticket to Qualicum Beach.
Buses(Local Transit) from Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay leave Vancouver at 7am, 9am, and 11am depending on which ferry you intend to take. Departing from Georgia and Seymour Streets, take the #250 or #257 bus.
From Vancouver: 830, 1030 or ferries from Vancouver: At Departure Bay ferry terminal take tofinobus.com to Parksville. Taxi-250-954-8294, $12. Reserve and pay online well in advance- it is cheaper and it fills. Tofinobus only connects with the 1030am ferry from Horseshoe Bay. It will drop you off at French Creek at 11:15am. Make sure you ask the driver to stop for you at French Creek. You will have plenty of time to catch the 230ferry to Lasqueti.
NANAIMO TRANSIT NEVER CONNECTS WELL, WORSE ON WEEKENDS The current schedule takes 2hours from Departure Bay to Wembley Mall. www.transitbc.com/regions/nan/. Nanaimo transit is by far the cheapest and most scenic but incredibly convoluted and subject to change their schedule with no notice. From the Departure Bay ferry terminal take the 2A bus to Woodgrove Mall. At Woodgrove Mall transfer to the #90 Intercity. If you look at the schedule you will see that this bus leaves hourly, 3 minutes prior to the 2A dropping you off. The #90 will go as far north as French Creek on some runs and only Wembley Mall on others. From Wembley Mall it is a 30min walk, best call a cab 250-954-8294. Nanaimo transit schedule gets far worse on Sunday to the point that I recommend you don’t bother. However, they are known to change their schedule spontaneously so let’s hope they get it sorted out by summer.
You will then make your way through the marina towards the end of the docks where the ferry to Lasqueti Island departs off from. Its not very clearly marked, so please ask someone there if you have trouble finding the Lasqueti ferry dock to False Bay, on Lasqueti Island .
Island Link Bus: This bus connects with the 830,1030 and 1230 ferries leaving Horseshoe Bay, picking you up at Departure Bay at 1030am ,1230 and 230pm. Its cheaper to book online for a bus ticket. Online may run $18.99 Canadian, Cash Fare at site: $24.00 Check out their website to book and more info on times of departure. https://www.islandlinkbus.com NOTE: This bus only goes to Parksville. You must take a taxi to French Creek from the bus depot in Parksville.
Lasqueti Ferry: The ferry runs from French Creek Harbour on Vancouver Island to False Bay on Lasqueti Island. Pay parking is available at the marina. The trip takes 60 minutes. Passengers and freight only – no cars! French Creek is located between Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Highway 19A, Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo.There is a restaurant, a general store and a pub. French Creek Harbourmaster: (250) 248-5051
Lasqueti Ferry Departing French Creek: 945am, 2:30pm and 5:30pm.
Lasqueti Ferry Fees: $11.oo each way http://www.wpm-1.com/?page_id=71
Boarding Passes On the days of anticipated heavy loads, boarding passes will be hung on the post at the dock where the ferry ties up. Passengers must be on board ship 15 minutes prior to sailing to ensure passage with a boarding pass. Boarding passes are garbage if you are not on the ferry 15minutes prior to departure. At that time, there may be a cue of passengers without passes, they will boarded next, until the boat is full, 58passengers.
Lasqueti Ferry Website for more info: This website does not have accurate information and sometimes doesn’t open. http://www.lasqueti.ca/island-info/lasqueti_ferry
There is a restaurant in French Creek. Your schedule may have you waiting at French Creek for a couple hours for the next ferry to Lasqueti. The French Creek Seafood store has smoked salmon or fresh salmon for sashimi. Very good quality and very cheap. There is a variety store with cold drinks.
From Seattle: Currently, the Clipper arrives after the buses heading north from Victoria depart. http://www.victoriaclipper.com leaves downtown Seattle in the morning, goes directly to downtown Victoria. When reserving the Clipper in advance, note that a return ticket is not that much more expensive than one-way. Another route from Seattle is to go through Port Angeles on the Blackball Ferry. This comes into downtown Victoria and is helpful for those with a car.
From Portland and Seattle via Rail/bus: Boltbus.com is offering tickets as low as $2 if you are one of the first people to buy a ticket. Amtrak is charging $48 from Portland to Vancouver if you purchase well in advance. Note arrival time and the possible need to stay the night in Vancouver if you are arriving in the evening. Amtrak has an early train from Seattle to Vancouver.
From Vancouver Airport: Two routes to choose from-
CHOICE A: go through Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay then ferry to Departure Bay, Nanaimo. Take the skytrain from the airport to Waterfront Station, then walk to Georgia and Seymour St.
CHOICE B: CONFIRM THIS: From the airport take the skytrain to Bridgeport station, take the 620 bus to Tsawwassen ferry terminal- take the ferry to Duke Point- take a taxi($70) to Departure Bay- take viconnector or islandlinkbus to Parksville, take a taxi to French Creek. Depending on the time of year, both viconnector and Island Link bus make stops at Cassidy Airport, near Duke Pt. ferry terminal. These schedules change regularly so confirm before you leave.
DRIVING FROM Bellingham and Tsawwassen Ferry terminal to Duke Point ferry terminal south of Nanaimo is a route best done with a car. bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/tsdp-current.php shows a Tsawwassen to Duke Point ferry at 10:15am, 2hour ferry, 1 hour drive north to French Creek, park and load the 230pm ferry to Lasqueti. Set up tent and have dinner.
All of these ferries and buses are known to change their schedules spontaneously so confirm ahead of time. If you notice a discrepancy from what I have written, please let me know.
By AIR: From outside of Canada: The cheapest airport to fly into is Seattle followed by Vancouver then Victoria. The trade off is the journey from Seattle is most expensive followed by Vancouver then Victoria. It may be cheaper to get a more expensive flight saving on the land/water journey. Or it may be easier to get a cheaper flight with the intention of spending a night somewhere before making the journey. If you have an old friend in Seattle, Vancouver or Victoria, this may be the time to visit them.
NOTE: Iskew.ca is a new airline flying from YVR to Qualicum Beach, this is often cheaper and easier than spending a night at an Airbnb. Qualicum Beach is 10minutes from French Creek.
WESTJET www.westjet.com flies into Nanaimo airport: $400 one way from Ottawa to Nanaimo on Aug4, or Calgary to Nanaimo $250 on Aug 4.
AMERICANS NEED PASSPORTS to enter Canada