Ahh The Island. One of my favourite places to visit in Canada.
Getting to the Island can either be a great experience or a bitter, nasty, frustrating one. It kinda depends on you.
You see, to get to the Island you either need to fly in or float over…and by float I mean on board BC Ferries.
Taking the Ferry across the bay is a very enjoyable experience by itself. It is the getting on and off that sucks.
First off, if you are travelling anywhere near the summer months or a long weekend, go to the BC Ferries website and make a reservation for the crossing time nearest to when you will be there. During the hot spot times there can three and four sailing waits to cross! Do not miss half your vacation sitting at the terminal waiting with the other schmucks that didn’t prebook.
Once you get to the terminal follow the signs and instructions on which lane to wait in. Listen to the nice Ferry folks – they are not trying to trick you.
If you are hungry and/or thirsty be aware that there is a mad panic like rush of passengers from their parked vehicles to the restaurants and shops. Choose wisely here. Unless we are starving, we will go find good seats for sightseeing and eat later on in the sailing…but the choice is up to you.
When you draw near to the other side, you will be prompted to return to your vehicles and prepare for off boarding. Again. Listen to the nice Ferry folks. Be prepared.
When you leave the ferry, you will have to go either left or right – know in advance which direction you are needing. There are a ton of vehicles just like you getting off the boat – don’t be that guy that holds everyone else that is prepared up.
Must See and Do on the Island:
Goats on the Roof aka Old Country Market, Coombs. By far the best market you will ever shop in. There is literally everything in here. Plus the goats on the roof are legendary in and of themselves.
The Amazing Sandcastle Competitions of Parksville. Another absolute must see. The gorgeous sandy beaches quickly become packed with other gawkers but it is worth it.