What's the easiest way to get between Seattle and Victoria
October 12, 2021 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Now that the clipper isn't an option any more, what's the best way to quickly and easily get between Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC?

I'm based in Seattle and seeing someone in Victoria, so we were thrilled when the Victoria Clipper started running again about a month ago. However, due to low ridership, they're suspending service until Spring 2022. It look like we're back to driving, which is fairly long (~5 hours), but I wanted to make sure there wasn't an alternative we're overlooking.

Things we've thought of without success:
  • Seaplanes seem like a good option, but I can't seem to find any that are traveling between Seattle and Victoria right now
  • The Anacortes ↔︎ Sidney ferry would save time, but it's not running now either
  • Taking a train to Vancouver removes the need to pay attention to driving, but I don't think Amtrak is running that route now and anyway, I don't know of a good public transit way to get between Vancouver and Victoria
Are there other options I'm not thinking of?
posted by Cogito to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might be worth checking in on the Black Ball ferry at the end of October. It's about 2.5 hrs from Seattle to Port Angeles, if you time the Bainbridge ferry right.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:12 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]

I don't think you'll find any service (bus, rail or ferry) that will take you over the border on land or sea. While Americans can now travel to Canada, Canadians are still not allowed over the US border by land for non-essential purposes. If Canadians aren't allowed over the border, it's likely that none of those services are going to run for lack of demand.

For air, as you know there are no direct flights to Victoria Airport, so your only option is to fly through Vancouver, which is kind of silly and would probably take longer than driving. The border station at Victoria Harbour is closed due to Covid, so there are no options to fly there on a seaplane.

In the future, if you can get to Vancouver on Amtrak, there is a coach service right from the train station to central Victoria, though it is kind of expensive. You can also do the trip entirely on public transit (Skytrain in Vancouver, transfer to a bus, walk on to the ferry, bus into Victoria), but that's a little more hassle. In any case, I suspect the ferry from Seattle (or at least the Ball Ferry from Port Angeles) will re-open around the same time as Amtrak starts up again.

There's also a coach from Seattle that stops near the Vancouver Airport, which is a little closer to hop on a bus back south again to the ferry terminal, but it's not running now either.
posted by ssg at 1:23 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]

The only way I can think of is a commercial airline, but it's pretty expensive.

Another idea is that you meet in Vancouver (about two hours' drive for you, 1.5 hours on the ferry for them), but then you're paying for accommodations.

It's definitely a tough time to be in an LDR! (I'm in Toronto and the SO is in Seattle so I know from whence I speak :D )
posted by foxjacket at 2:25 PM on October 12

This website was recommended somewhere around here earlier. It shows ways to travel between places using road/rail/air and highlights public transportation options. Might be helpful?
posted by zoetrope at 2:36 PM on October 12

Wait until the end of the month and look again. Supposedly, the US is reopening the border for vaccinated Canadians at the end of the month, so hopefully your options will open up again.
Good luck!
posted by cfraenkel at 8:03 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]

The U.S. will open the Canada and Mexico borders for fully vaccinated travelers in November.

The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening the door of the United States to tourists and separated family members who had been sealed out of the country during the pandemic.

Foreign travelers who provide proof of vaccination and are looking to visit families or friends or shop in the United States will be allowed to enter, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, just weeks after the administration said it would soon lift a similar sweeping restriction on foreigners looking to travel to the country from overseas.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:27 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]

Response by poster:
The border station at Victoria Harbour is closed due to Covid, so there are no options to fly there on a seaplane.
I can't find any details about that. Looking at what I think is the official website, I would expect some sort of notice, but it looks like business as usual. Any idea where to look for details or updates on this situation?
posted by Cogito at 3:49 PM on October 13

Only ten airports in Canada are open for international flights. Here's the seaplane company's page, which notes Victoria Harbour is closed.
posted by ssg at 6:50 PM on October 13

Seattle-to-Bainbridge ferry service is being reduced from two boats to one. This will mean longer wait times between sails. The Seattle-to-Bremerton ferry is a longer ride, but Bremerton is just south of Poulsbo, so the overall trip time to Port Angeles is only another 10-20 minutes via that route.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:09 PM on October 13

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