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Getting There

By Plane -- Nanaimo and Comox/Courtenay have regular air service. Air Canada Jazz (tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com) offers service to Vancouver from Nanaimo. Pacific Coastal Airlines (tel. 800/663-2872; www.pacific-coastal.com) and Air Canada connector Central Mountain Air fly to/from Comox and Vancouver, while WestJet (tel. 877/952-4638; www.westjet.com) provides Comox with nonstop service to/from Edmonton and Calgary.

Smaller towns in central Vancouver Island can be reached via floatplane, either from Vancouver International's seaplane terminal or from downtown Vancouver's Coal Harbour terminal.

Commuter seaplane companies include Harbour Air Seaplanes (tel. 800/665-0212 or 604/688-1277; www.harbour-air.com), Tofino Air (tel. 866/486-3247 for Tofino base, 888/436-7776 for Sechelt base, or 800/665-2359 for Gabriola base; www.tofinoair.ca), and West Coast Air (tel. 800/347-2222 or 604/606-6800; www.westcoastair.com).

By Ferry -- BC Ferries (tel. 888/223-3779 or 250/386-3431; www.bcferries.com) links Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the mainland. Major routes include the crossing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and to Nanaimo, and from Horseshoe Bay (northwest of Vancouver) to Nanaimo. In summer, reserve in advance. Sample fares are included in the regional sections that follow.

By Bus -- One of the easiest ways to get to and from Vancouver Island destinations is by bus. Greyhound Canada (tel. 800/661-8747 or 604/482-8747; www.greyhound.ca) provides six daily trips between Vancouver and Nanaimo. Fare is C$17 one-way.

Visitor Information

For information on central Vancouver Island, contact Tourism Vancouver Island, Ste. 501, 65 Front St., Nanaimo (tel. 250/754-3500; www.vancouverisland.travel). Also check out www.vancouverisland.com.

Getting Around

While Vancouver Island has an admirable system of public transport, getting to remote sights and destinations is difficult without your own vehicle.

By Ferry -- BC Ferries (tel. 888/223-3779 or 250/386-3431; www.bcferries.com) routes link Vancouver Island ports to many offshore islands.

By Train -- A scenic way to travel is on VIA Rail's E&N Railiner, the Malahat (tel. 888/VIA-RAIL [842-7245] or 250/383-4324; www.viarail.ca), which runs from Victoria to Courtenay.

By Bus -- Vancouver Island Coach (tel. 250/388-5248, or book through Greyhound Canada tel. 800/661-8747 or 604/482-8747; www.greyhound.ca) operates regular daily service between Victoria and Tofino. The 6-hour trip, departing Victoria at 7:30am and arriving in Tofino at 2:20pm, costs C$65. The bus also stops in Nanaimo and can pick up passengers arriving from Vancouver on the ferry. The Tofino Bus (tel. 866/986-3466; www.tofinobus.com) also offers bus service from Victoria and Vancouver to Tofino. A one-way ticket from Victoria to Tofino is C$64.

By Car -- The southern half of Vancouver Island is well served by paved highways. The trunk road between Victoria and Nanaimo is Hwy. 1, the Trans-Canada, which requires some patience, especially during the busy summer months. North of Nanaimo, the major road is Hwy. 19, a new four-lane expressway that runs 128km (80 miles) to Campbell River. The older sections of 19, all closer to the island's east coast, are now labeled 19A. The other major paved road system on the island, Hwy. 4, connects Parksville with Port Alberni and on to Ucluelet and Tofino, on the rugged west coast. This road is mostly two-lane, and portions of it are extremely winding and hilly.

Rental cars are readily available. Agencies include Avis (tel. 800/879-2847 in Canada, 800/331-1212 in the U.S.; www.avis.com), Budget (tel. 800/268-8900 in Canada, 800/527-0700 in the U.S.; www.budget.com), and National (tel. 877/222-9058 in Canada and the U.S.; www.nationalcar.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.