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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Planning my trip to Vancouver Island in May. Which part of Hwy 101 is the nicer, more scenic or better road, the east or west route?

TIA
 

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In my opinion, the Western route is nicer and much less crowded.

The east route along Hood canal can be congested by big RV's and safe opportunities to pass are very limited.

Time permitting, consider a detour to Cape Flattery and Neah bay. Road 113 and 122 after Forks.

Also: In Port Angeles, make sure to climb the Hurricane Ridge.

HTH
 

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So what brings you to Canada's Big Island? Staying long?

Depending on when you arrive a PT. Angles, I would recommend a reservation on the Coho, and remember, it is a ferry and they park'em close! :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
LaurentInSeattle:
I'll be leaving in the morning from either Tillamook or Seaside OR and based on time and mileage I'll just make the 5:20 ferry (last of the day). My initial plan was to stay on the west side but I could save a half hour by taking the east route. It doesn't look like I'll have much, if any, time for side trips but will see what can fit.

Westcoaster:
I always take one longish road trip a year. I wanted to take this drive a couple of years ago but decided to go elsewhere or visit family instead. I'll only be on the island one full day.
Tentative plans are:
-Drive around Victoria along the waters edge then up to Sidney
-Sidney back north to Route 4 and out to Tofino
-Tofino to Nanaimo, spend the night
-Ferry to Horseshoe Bay the next morning
-Up to Squamish, take the gondola ride, then southeast to Coquitlam to see a business acquaintance
-Then back into Washington

I'm not one for spending a lot of time in one place. It's more about the driving then being a tourist. I heard that about the ferries, should I bring magnetic bumper guards :)
 

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I've taken the drive up Hood Canal in early May several times & traffic hasn't been a problem like it would be after school is out & the family vacationers hit the road. I have a convention to attend outside of Victoria & really wanted to take my CS on that drive, but likely won't because I'm sure the doors would get dinged on the ferry. The CS is 4 inches wider than my 2006 Subaru & it was always a real tight squeeze with that car. I do recommend getting a reservation for the Coho (Black Ball Ferry). If I didn't have to spend 5 nights on the island, I'd be tempted to leave the car in Port Angeles & rent a car or take a cab in Victoria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Maybe I should put two layers of Xpel on the doors...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just noticed that Monday May 18th is Victoria Day up there. I'm going to be on the island that day. Does that mean lots of traffic especially out to Tofino? Also, do all the stores, service stations close that day too? Maybe I need to rethink which day I'm there. Advice welcome.
 

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LaurentInSeattle:
I'll be leaving in the morning from either Tillamook or Seaside OR and based on time and mileage I'll just make the 5:20 ferry (last of the day). My initial plan was to stay on the west side but I could save a half hour by taking the east route. It doesn't look like I'll have much, if any, time for side trips but will see what can fit.

Westcoaster:
I always take one longish road trip a year. I wanted to take this drive a couple of years ago but decided to go elsewhere or visit family instead. I'll only be on the island one full day.
Tentative plans are:
-Drive around Victoria along the waters edge then up to Sidney
-Sidney back north to Route 4 and out to Tofino
-Tofino to Nanaimo, spend the night
-Ferry to Horseshoe Bay the next morning
-Up to Squamish, take the gondola ride, then southeast to Coquitlam to see a business acquaintance
-Then back into Washington

I'm not one for spending a lot of time in one place. It's more about the driving then being a tourist. I heard that about the ferries, should I bring magnetic bumper guards :)
I just noticed that Monday May 18th is Victoria Day up there. I'm going to be on the island that day. Does that mean lots of traffic especially out to Tofino? Also, do all the stores, service stations close that day too? Maybe I need to rethink which day I'm there. Advice welcome.
OK, last post first, yes Victoria Day is a holiday here, but I can gaurantee you that we all won't be heading to Tofino that day, what it does mean is there is a Parade with lots of traffic in the core of the city that will slow you down a bit unless you get out of town early that day or wait until after lunch. Driving along the waterfront is beautiful, out to Sidney not so much so, mostly highway and not much to see along the way. Sidney is nice, but unless you plan to spend the day shopping there, I don't think that it is worth the trouble.

On to the first post, hmmm where to start, your plans are 'very' ambitious, if you go with the Beach Drive around Victoria and then out to Sidney, at least an hour is gone, then anouther 30 minutes back to Victoria, and although it may look close on the map it takes 1.5 hours to get to Nanaimo from here, and then about the same to Tofino, so at least 3hours in then another couple back out, and that is without stopping for lunch or site seeing, you would be lucky to get back into Nanaimo by 10PM.

Personally I would suggest a decision, either see a bit of Victoria by staying over night here and then travel north though Sidney on the way to Whistler, or bypass Victoria and Sidney and go directly up to Tofino (or Uluelet) and then back to Nanaimo for the night.

The trip from Swartz Bay to Vancouver by ferry is awesome, the Naniamo to Horseshoe Bay not so much so, it's advantage is you get to the north side of Vancouver without going through Vancouver itself. To Whistler and on a Gondola ride and then to Coquitlam is quite the adventure as well, an entire day for sure if you plan to visit your aquaintence for any amout of time. From Coquitlam to Washington border is not too bad about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, Seattle another 1-1/2 hours past there.

I think that you need to plan for a night in Naniamo and in Vancouver unless your co-pilot likes taking pictures from the window while under way.

I have lived on the island for over 30 years, I travel to Vancouver weekly including all of the routes and stops you mention, I also have been using the Coho and traveling to Seattle via I5 since I was 16 years old (dare I mention that was 40 years ago?). I love driving my 981 but IMHO you don't have enough time alloted to really have a good time, even in that Porsche!

Please feel free to ask questions, I would happy to share my local knowledge. Oh and did I mention (even though this is not a part of your plans), that it takes about 8 hours to drive (one way) to the northern tip of the island, so you are just really passing through as it were.

Regards,
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks! This is the kind of local knowledge that's nice to have. I guess I need to clarify my tentative routes and plans.

I'll be spending Sunday night in Victoria so I'll have time to dine and explore a little (already planned).

Monday by 7AM (I'm an early riser) I'll take the shore route around the city then out to Tofina (skipping Sidney since it doesn't sound too appealing and I don't shop). Without Sidney I can include Ucluelet and then back to Nanaimo. Google maps has that at 8.5 hours without stops. I can see getting back to Nanaimo early evening and will spend the night there (already planned). Even though the ferry from Swartz Bay to Vancouver might be nicer it would mean driving back down again which doesn't make sense.

Tuesday morning take the 8:30 Departure Bay ferry to Horseshoe Bay then to Squamish and the gondola ride. I hadn't planned to go any farther north. Do you recommend going to Whistler? Then to Coquitlam (quick meet and greet) and then down into Washington (most likely to Everett). Total travel time approx. 8 hours (including Whistler) without stops. I could shorten that time by only going to Bellingham WA which would make more sense as I don't know how long to account for the gondola ride in Squamish. Another alternative would be to remove Whistler and have more time on the mainland.

Still have lots of time to plan so this is good.

Appreciate your input.

Bill
 

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No problem Bill, I travel for work (and pleasure) all of the time and always feel more comfortable when I have a better lay of the land. :)

Thanks! This is the kind of local knowledge that's nice to have. I guess I need to clarify my tentative routes and plans.

I'll be spending Sunday night in Victoria so I'll have time to dine and explore a little (already planned).
Ahhhh, that makes more sense, downtown Victoria is a small area and if the weather is good, most of what you want to see or do is within walking distance depending on where you are staying. As for dinner, we probably have more restaurants per capita then anywhere else in Canada, I am sure the net can steer you to all of the most popular spots, but if you are have trouble with a choice let me know and I can help out.

Monday by 7AM (I'm an early riser) I'll take the shore route around the city then out to Tofina (skipping Sidney since it doesn't sound too appealing and I don't shop). Without Sidney I can include Ucluelet and then back to Nanaimo. Google maps has that at 8.5 hours without stops. I can see getting back to Nanaimo early evening and will spend the night there (already planned). Even though the ferry from Swartz Bay to Vancouver might be nicer it would mean driving back down again which doesn't make sense.
This looks to be a good plan, there are wineries and things to see on the Saanich Peninsula but you would need a couple of days not hours to do it any justice. As you know Ucluelet and Tofino are near Long Beach and are favorite spots to visit during the summer and winter (for storm watching), in fact out local club is up there May 21-24 this year in Ucluelet for our annual gathering (I won't be there) Black Rock 2015 - Vancouver Island Region Porsche Club of America As you say coming from that part of the island with the intention of heading to the mainland that ferry choice makes perfect sense.

Tuesday morning take the 8:30 Departure Bay ferry to Horseshoe Bay then to Squamish and the gondola ride. I hadn't planned to go any farther north. Do you recommend going to Whistler? Then to Coquitlam (quick meet and greet) and then down into Washington (most likely to Everett). Total travel time approx. 8 hours (including Whistler) without stops. I could shorten that time by only going to Bellingham WA which would make more sense as I don't know how long to account for the gondola ride in Squamish. Another alternative would be to remove Whistler and have more time on the mainland.
We have been meaning to try the gondola ride at Squamish but just too busy these days, you have to let us know what it is like! As for Whistler, also a very nice place, home to the Alpine Events of the 2010 Olympics, the terrain and scenery is going to be much like Squamish, unless you have extra time I would think this for the 'next' trip. Coquitlam is a pretty spot nestled along side the north shore mountains, easy to get to from Squamish, I suspect you will take the #1 Highway through North Vancouver to get there, you will essentially bypass Vancouver proper, another cool spot but with the need for a lot more time. Your timing will determine traffic, anytime after 2PM on a week day the roads heading east will begin to get busy, by 5PM you are in rush hour as a lot of people live east of downtown. From Coquitlam to the border the traffic depends on which crossing you plan to take, to be honest unless you need to be in Washington that night staying in or around Coquitlam, or New Westminster at the Quay would be a nice way to end that day. Our dollar is so weak right now your food and stay is almost subsidized! :hilarious:

If you stick with the plan to head for Bellingham or Everett then the best choice would be over the Alex Fraser Bridge on to #91 South, once through the border Bellingham is only minutes away, Everett about 90 minutes.

Still have lots of time to plan so this is good.

Appreciate your input.

Bill
As I mentioned I live on the island, but get to Vancouver and the area weekly, a forum member from Vancouver may have a slightly different view on travel in lower mainland, but suffice to say, I do many a trip where I am on the 7AM ferry to Vancouver driving through Richmond to sites downtown, even the north shore, then COQ or Burnaby or Surrey and back to the ferry for the 5pm or 7PM ferry home... not for the faint of heart but my 981 and I have made the trip often!

Cheers, Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ahhhh, that makes more sense, downtown Victoria is a small area and if the weather is good, most of what you want to see or do is within walking distance depending on where you are staying. As for dinner, we probably have more restaurants per capita then anywhere else in Canada, I am sure the net can steer you to all of the most popular spots, but if you are have trouble with a choice let me know and I can help out.
I will look for a place downtown to stay so I can walk around a bit. Not sure how much will be seen as it will most likely be getting dark by the time I get settled in.

...in fact out local club is up there May 21-24 this year in Ucluelet for our annual gathering (I won't be there) Black Rock 2015 - Vancouver Island Region Porsche Club of America
This sure does look like quite the event. I would poke in but it's a couple of days past my visit.

We have been meaning to try the gondola ride at Squamish but just too busy these days, you have to let us know what it is like!
Of course I will and with pictures. I still may include Whistler as COQ won't be confirmed until just before I begin the trip.

From Coquitlam to the border the traffic depends on which crossing you plan to take, to be honest unless you need to be in Washington that night staying in or around Coquitlam, or New Westminster at the Quay would be a nice way to end that day.
Wish I could stay longer but I need to head south in order to still make it home in two days. I know I could cover more distance using I-5 but how boring.

I think right now I have the trip laid out the best way, with your help. Thanks Al!

By the way how has your 981 held up on the ferries?

Bill
 

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Bill, you mention hotels in Downtown Victoria, a beautiful spot right on the harbour and about a 10 minute walk into town (or even a quick ride on the Harbour Ferry) is the Laurel Point Inn, or Ocean Point Inn and of course the venerable Empress Hotel. All of these are very nice albeit a bit upscale, there are a number of properties in the area, something to suit any budget, check out Tourism Victoria for ideas. FWIW our two favorite restaurants in that area are Milestones and The Blue Crab which is also in a nice hotel.

I have been very fortunate on the ferries with my car, when I have occasion to make a reservation I still arrive early to get at the front of the line, a lot of times it gives me a spot where only one side is to other cars, with the opposite along the hull. If you are fortunate enough to be put on the main vehicle deck (this will be space permitting and at their discretion), down there with the trucks they will always put you off to the side and the lanes are wider, only downside is that you are usually last to disembark, but to me it is worth it.

So do I take it you are down in the Bay area? I get to San Jose often for work, and June last year we drove down to Parade in Monterey, then spent a week in SJ before driving up to visit with friends in Portland and then returned home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey Al,

I'll look into those hotels. As far as eating that depends on the timing. I may just eat on the ferry. I'm not one for late dinner (past 6:30).

Ferry: I'll make a reservation but it will be very close for me to make it to the docks within the 1 hour before departure time frame. I read on their site they actually start loading about 30 minutes before departure. Can you request to be put on the truck deck if there's room?

I live in Sonoma County just north of Santa Rosa. When I moved up here from SoCal 24 years ago (to get away from the congestion of Orange County) there was no way I was going to live close to SF or in the South Bay. I have a 10 minute drive to work :)

Speaking of work I need to get back to it.

Later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re-thinking the length of this trip and spending more time on the island.

- Arrive Victoria Sunday night
- Monday all day in Victoria, watch the parade, see some of the sites etc.
- Tuesday to Tofino/Ucluelet and back to Qualicum Beach (or Nanaimo depending on Wednesday)
- Wednesday to Port Hardy and back to Nanaimo. Port Hardy appears to be a quaint town. Is this drive worth it? (Optional drive)
- Thursday Departure Bay to Squamish (maybe Whistler), Coquitlam, Washington

This will add 2 full days on the island.

I couldn't locate any info about the parade route. Curious where it is in relation to the hotel I've chosen, Chateau Victoria Hotel.
 

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Love the old part of Nanaimo. The French bakery around the corner from the Bastion Inn is great for lunch. Yummy pastries. The Bastion Inn has great views of the harbor. After a conference there a couple of years ago I was hot to move. However, Canada doesn't want retirees. Definitely want to visit again.
 

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Re-thinking the length of this trip and spending more time on the island.

- Arrive Victoria Sunday night
- Monday all day in Victoria, watch the parade, see some of the sites etc.
- Tuesday to Tofino/Ucluelet and back to Qualicum Beach (or Nanaimo depending on Wednesday)
- Wednesday to Port Hardy and back to Nanaimo. Port Hardy appears to be a quaint town. Is this drive worth it? (Optional drive)
- Thursday Departure Bay to Squamish (maybe Whistler), Coquitlam, Washington

This will add 2 full days on the island.

I couldn't locate any info about the parade route. Curious where it is in relation to the hotel I've chosen, Chateau Victoria Hotel.
Hey Bill, from your earlier post, ask at the booth about the main deck...

I think you will be happy you added a couple of days to the island leg of your trip, if the weather is good you should have a great time. The parade route goes from the Mayfair Shopping Center down Douglas St. to behind the Empress Hotel. The Chateau Victoria is a nice place and is centrally located, just around the corner at the Strathcona Hotel is one of Victoria's most popular pubs, the Sticky Wicket, Milestones I only about 1/2 a block away on the harbour.

I can't give any information about Port Hardy, never been but our club goes up just about every year http://virpca.org/virevent/north-island-escape/, There is a link to our club vice-president on that page and I am sure Martin would be happy to share info. Qualicum Beach not so much but Parksville has many places to stay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey Bill, from your earlier post, ask at the booth about the main deck...

I think you will be happy you added a couple of days to the island leg of your trip, if the weather is good you should have a great time. The parade route goes from the Mayfair Shopping Center down Douglas St. to behind the Empress Hotel. The Chateau Victoria is a nice place and is centrally located, just around the corner at the Strathcona Hotel is one of Victoria's most popular pubs, the Sticky Wicket, Milestones I only about 1/2 a block away on the harbour.

I can't give any information about Port Hardy, never been but our club goes up just about every year http://virpca.org/virevent/north-island-escape/, There is a link to our club vice-president on that page and I am sure Martin would be happy to share info. Qualicum Beach not so much but Parksville has many places to stay.
Hi Al,

I too hope the weather will be good.

You live on the island and have never been to the northern tip! I sent Martin an inquiry email and also told him to drag you along on the next group drive (j/k).

Correct about Parksville. Noticed this last night. The AAA tour book is quite handy once you find locations on a map.

Isn't ESSO the same as Exxon here in the States? I prefer Chevron or Shell and see both are on the island.
 

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Hi Al,

I too hope the weather will be good.

You live on the island and have never been to the northern tip! I sent Martin an inquiry email and also told him to drag you along on the next group drive (j/k).

Correct about Parksville. Noticed this last night. The AAA tour book is quite handy once you find locations on a map.

Isn't ESSO the same as Exxon here in the States? I prefer Chevron or Shell and see both are on the island.
Yes, I know, it seems like I need to be tourist in my own town a bit more, almost like going further afield is somehow better? I think for the Pt. Hardy trips it has just been a conflict with other events on at the same time.

Yes, Esso is the Canadian subsidiary, Chevron is my preferred station, mostly because I have convinced myself that I need Techron and 94 octane for my 981! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, I know, it seems like I need to be tourist in my own town a bit more, almost like going further afield is somehow better? I think for the Pt. Hardy trips it has just been a conflict with other events on at the same time.

Yes, Esso is the Canadian subsidiary, Chevron is my preferred station, mostly because I have convinced myself that I need Techron and 94 octane for my 981! ;)
There is so much to see here in Norcal that I attempt to take a couple of 2-3 day weekend trips and go someplace every year. Have to see what's in ones own backyard.

Hope the 987 doesn't get spoiled on 94 octane. It will think I'm putting it on a diet when it comes home and can only get 91.
 
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