When returning to our home on Vancouver Island we generally like to take the Black Ball Line MV Coho Ferry. It departs from Port Angeles, Washington crossing the Juan De Fuca Strait 2-3 times per day. There are several reasons we prefer this way back over other routes to Victoria.
Border Crossing and Ferry Trip Combined
It makes it convenient and time-saving to cross here versus crossing the border south of Vancouver and crossing over on the BC Ferries from Tsawwassen. The border crossings over there can be long and that goes for the ferry line-ups as well.
Much Nicer Scenery and Less Hectic Traffic
I find the journey up the 101 Highway to Port Angeles nicer than traveling along Interstate 5 through the Seattle area. You get to travel on a rural highway through beautiful forest lands and Olympic National Park instead of congested city freeways.
The Ferry Crossing is Quick
The boat is smaller than most of the larger BC Ferries so loading and unloading time is fast. Also the crossing time at 90 minutes is the slightly faster than the BC Ferry route from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Customs is usually a few questions and your good to go and the line up can only be a long as the vehicles the ferry holds.
Victoria Harbour is among the most beautiful little harbours in the world and the MV Coho cruises right into it and docks there. After a long time away from home it’s great to stand on deck and enjoy the terrific views as the big ship glides up the channel.
As you round the last turn the Empress Hotel and impressive BC Parliament buildings slowly appear. Along the sides are small marinas, boats, and seabirds squawking. All this and the crisp smell of the sea air signals “Welcome Home”.
A Few Details Of What to Expect
You can get reservations for the crossing, but they also keep spaces for first come first serve drive up customers. They want you there 1.5 hours before sailing. On both sides, there are neat little coffee shops, restaurants and nice walks to kill some time. The loading is fairly easy for even the biggest RVs. The lanes are a decent size and the ferry workers extremely good at their job of loading the boat.
Once on board and sailing you can relax inside looking out big windows at the passing scenery or go outside and roam the walkways enjoying the fresh sea air and maybe even spot some whales. They have a small little café with basic food and beverages and gift shop. One nice thing on this boat is they allow pets above the car deck. They are allowed in the midship lounge or up on the solarium deck.
After docking, you have to clear customs. It’s generally a few questions and you’re on your way. Best to have your passports and pet papers ready.
We have taken the Black Ball Line MV Coho Ferry Trip many times now and highly recommend it as a route on or off Vancouver Island.
Some more photos from the crossing
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