Wednesday, October 05, 2011

BC Ferries to Powell River

Today we are traveling to Powell River with Mom, and riding in her car is the easiest mode of transportation. Mom lives in Bellingham, so it's only an hour and a half to the BC Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay. We add 30 minutes just to be sure we make our ferry on time. We drive straight north on Guide Meridian Road to the border. Our favorite crossing point is Aldergrove.

The inspections on both the Canadian and American sides have always been efficient and courteous. That is a huge plus. Once across the border, we continue straight north about 7 miles (11 km) on 264th Street to Canada Highway 1. Highway 1 takes us all the way to Horseshoe Bay without going through downtown. Some caution, however, should be taken to avoid morning and evening rush hours.

Horseshoe Bay is the terminal for BC Ferries to the Sunshine Coast (Langdale), Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) and nearby Bowen Island. Signage is excellent and easy to follow. Our first ferry is from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. On a clear day, you can see up Howe Sound to the snow capped peaks surrounding Whistler. The ferry takes 40 minutes to travel 9.7 nautical miles. You can go up to the passenger deck or outside in good weather. The Queen of Surrey is the regular ferry on this route and it has a gift shop (with lots of local books) and a cafeteria.

Langdale is next to the town of Gibsons. Take a few minutes to drive through Gibson's Landing. If you aren't in a hurry, stop for a bite at Molly's Reach. It's perched overlooking the harbour and is well known from its role in the Canadian television series The Beachcombers. There are also lots of quaint shops along this route. We usually stop on our way south when we are assured of making the ferry on time.

The drive between our Langdale and Earls Cove is 52 miles (84 km). It takes about and hour and a half due to the two lane winding road. You can make a direct connection in most cases. There are few services at Earls Cove. In the summer there is a cafe, but winter months offer only a restroom facility. We typically stop for a to-go meal as we pass through Sechelt.

The ferry from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay takes 50 minutes to travel 10.5 nautical miles. The Island Sky, one of the newer ships in the fleet, is the regular ferry on this route. Again, you will pass through unsurpassed scenery. You will glide past green, tree covered coastal islands. Look up Hotham Sound to discover pristine glaciated peaks.

The drive between Saltery Bay and Powell River is 22 miles (34 km). Plan about 30 minutes. Along the way you will get glimpses of the Strait of Georgia with Texada Island in the distance. Powell River Visitors Bureau has excellent maps on their website.

Many ferry travelers continue on to Vancouver Island from Powell River. I highly recommend that you take a few days to explore our region before you continue. There are many options to stay: camp, RV, hotel or bed and breakfast. Maybe you will be like us, captured by the beauty and people of the area. You can read about some of our adventures in BC Coastal Stories by my husband, Wayne Lutz. Books are available online at
or locally at Coles and Breakwater Books.

You can get additional information about the area at the following websites.


  1. Great travel log, Margy. I almost convinced myself that the ferry would be a good thing (lets just say that I'm not keen on ferries, regardless of size). Hope you have/had a great trip. Lovely photo of your Mom.

  2. I love going on ferries! Such a treat to see these photos.

  3. I love the ferries to and from Powell River, Margy. It's been a long time, but I think of the scenery and smile.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. The ferry ride from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay aboard Island Sky ranks among the most beautiful ferry rides on the west coast. When the sun's shining, of course...!

  5. Elaine - Maybe it because of riding the ferry to Newfoundland through those big storms at sea. Our trip was mild, but I've seen YouTube video to the contrary.

    Tash, Kay and island blog - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, the ferry rides up the coast are a really beautiful way to travel.


  6. I haven't taken a ferry in many years (1965!) so it's about time. Enjoyed this post very much...

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