Aaahhhh, Victoria. The City on Vancouver Island that calls to American travelers offering them a bit of island living, mixed with British customs and a dash of European flare. In the summer, it is full of brightly colored blooms, the sun dancing on the water and stately buildings with the crisp red and white of the Canadian maple leaf flying high. The laid-back atmosphere adds to the perfect climate for summer tourists and makes it a destination we did not want to miss.
Planning the Trip
Now, we just had to figure out our options for visiting as full-time RVers. We started by looking at the ferry from Vancouver, since we knew we would be spending time there. It is doable from Vancouver, and they do allow RVs; but we quickly learned that if we just wanted to visit Victoria and not the rest of Vancouver Island, that the ferry from Washington is shorter and therefore cheaper. We knew we would be in Washington prior to entering Canada, and that we wanted to explore Olympic National Park. So, we decided that our best (shortest & cheapest) option would be to take the ferry from Port Angeles, Washington, which would also put us in a great location for exploring the Olympics state side.
Now that we were set on the Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles, we had to decide how long we would be going and if we wanted to take the RV. The ferry ride takes 90 minutes, so figure 2 hours for that process – if you’re only walking on the ferry. If we only went for the day, we would be spending 4 hours in travel, which would not leave us a lot of time for exploring; but we also knew that we didn’t need more than 2 days to see what we wanted to. So, we decided on an overnighter. For just an overnighter, taking the RV did not seem worth it to us. For the ferry, the vehicle plus the driver rate was $64.00 plus $5.25 per linear foot above 18 feet. We would have to add an additional person rate and the reservation fee for a vehicle. That is one-way. So, we didn’t really see how we could save money by bringing the RV.
Instead, we decided to leave the RV in Washington and book a hotel. We also decided to leave the truck as well. If the object of the trip is solely to explore the harbor and downtown area of Victoria, it is very feasible to do this on foot. Also, there are bus trips and tours available that can be booked right in the harbor area to take you to points of interest outside the city, but to be honest, we aren’t really in to being on a schedule with a set plan (we are fulltime RVers after all). We knew that we wanted to visit Butchart Gardens (about a half hour drive), and we also wanted to explore the coast. So, we decided to look in to renting a scooter. We love scooters – they make parking a breeze, gas is cheap, and they are just downright fun to ride. A lot of the experience of a scooter depends on the weather and the area – our time in Victoria turned out to be perfect for one.
The last part of the plan was figuring out what to do with Aunt Glady. There is parking available for RVs at the ferry parking lots, but we would have to pay for multiple spaces and we would be paying by day, so that would mean two days for us. Even if we only took up 2 spaces, that would have been $40 for us. We had booked our campground for when we got back from the trip, so we just asked them if they had dry storage. They did, and it cost 17.50 per night. So, we went with the dry storage and then just parked the truck at the ferry parking lot. We had our plan, and now it was time to enjoy!
During our visit, we ate seafood (mostly wild caught and local), toured Butchart Gardens & Craigdarroch Castle, rode all over the city on our scooter, drove along the coast stopping at several beaches, and had two long ferry rides on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We felt that we had a pretty good balance in experiencing the area. Here is a video to show you how our trip went…
The Cost (USD, includes all tax)
From beginning to end, here was the breakdown for us…
- Overnight storage spot for Aunt Gladys $17.50
- Parking spot for truck at Ferry (we parked a block away) $20.00 ($10 per day)
- Ferry (roundtrip for 2 adults) $74.00
- Hotel (one night) $104.00
- Scooter Rental (24 hours) $84.00
- Butchart Gardens tickets (2 adults) $55.00
- Craigdarroch Castle tickets (2 adults) $22.00
- Food (2 lunches & 1 dinner) $90.00
- Suntan lotion (we forgot ours) $9.00
Grand Total $476.00
We chose to pay cash for everything, so we had no additional fees. You can use USD, but you will not get as good of an exchange rate, or your credit card, but you will probably have fees for using it in Canada. We chose to take cash with us and exchange it before paying for anything – our rate was 1.2512.
Also, I packed breakfast, snacks and our water bottles which we refilled for free. We packed light so that we could carry everything in a backpack. To make up for some of the hotel cost, we stayed at the Walmart in Port Angeles the night prior to our trip.
And that is a good reminder why we RV! Traveling can be expensive, but RVing has made it affordable for us. Our trip to Victoria was a great vacation for us, but we certainly couldn’t keep that up fulltime.
Thank you, Judith, for providing us with great information for our trip and a helpful walking map!
Thank you, Lord, for Victoria and fresh salmon!