Victoria Harbour Ferries

harbor ferry

Victoria Harbour Ferries Gorge Tour

When in Victoria and looking for something a bit different to do, the Harbour Ferries offer a variety of on-the-water options, and also serve as transportation for visiting places near the landing docks.  The harbour ferries have a base dock at the waterfront across the street from the famous Empress Hotel.

Victoria harbor ferry

harbour tour ferry

Tours include the inner harbour (it’s Canada, harbor has a u in it), the gorge cruise, or a combo ticket to take both tours.  They also offer water taxi service, with prices varying on how far people want to go or the option of a hop-on, hop-off pass to ride the water taxi around and see Victoria’s waterfront areas at will from shore as well as from the water.  To visit more distant stops they also have harbour ferry service to places farther than the water taxis venture.

red brick door

wall from old fort

Tours start from the ferry base conveniently located in the inner harbour.  The gorge cruise passes through the inner harbor on the way to the gorge, pointing out historic sites such as the red door in a brick wall which once led to storage for the first fort in Victoria.   The fort once rose above the wall where businesses now stand near the two oldest buildings in town, a former bank and jail -conveniently located right next to each other where the sheriff could easily take anyone caught robbing the bank the short distance to the jail.

historic buildings

old bank and jail

The ferry proceeds under the historic blue bridge.  At least for now.  The captain sadly stated that the bridge is slated for demolition in spite of its historic value and the fact that with the heavy counterweight it takes just a very small amount of power for a very small motor to raise and lower it.

Victoria's blue bridge

historic blue bridge

The narrow Gorge Waterway continues for some distance past spacious homes where Victoria’s elite once lived, the oldest working shipyard around, and a restaurant with views of recycling in action at Vancouver Island’s car recycling center.  Like many historic homes near water, houses in the area did not initially have sewers.  With an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude, the waterway became the dumping ground for just about everything.

family of seals

harbor seals hanging out by the shipyard

Swimming marathons and other historic water-based activities ended when the water became too polluted for safe swimming.  In recent years clean-up activity began.  It started with private people in boats pulling junk up from the bottom.  Eventually the city of Victoria joined in the clean-up effort.  The Gorge Waterway once again has clean water for swimmers (including harbor seals) to enjoy.

RV Park on the gorge

you have to reserve a spot a year in advance to camp in this park on the Gorge Waterway

Very rare for Canada’s British Columbia province, where shorelines are crown land, permanent private docks line the Gorge Waterway, grandfathered in as the private homes there had them before the shoreline laws existed.

expensive housing

houseboats in Victoria’s inner harbor

The harbour tour started much the same as the gorge tour, passing seaplane docks and the brick wall with the red door.  It turned before going under the bridge and stayed in the more populated inner harbour area, viewing acres of expensive condos and rows of houseboats.  It stopped at places like Fisherman’s Wharf where people could get off and catch another ferry later if they wanted to spend some time there.


seaplane getting ready for takeoff

Without leaving the boat, the harbour tour takes about 45 minutes.  The gorge tour takes an hour, and when doing both on a combo ticket there may be a wait in between if the next boat is not at the dock when the first one arrives, or if it is already full.  The inner harbour has plenty of things to fill a possible wait time with a number of food stands and craft booths, and sometimes live entertainment.

alien mayor

our tour guide said this was the mayor of Victoria hanging out on his boat

 copyright My Cruise Stories 2015

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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14 Responses to Victoria Harbour Ferries

  1. gwynnrogers says:

    It has been so many years since I have been to Victoria, that I don’t think the water-taxis existed then. However, one point of interest, my husband’s grandfather was the original Interior Designer of the Empress Hotel. Since my grandfather sold furniture… MAYBE he sold them their furniture, but who knows? 😉 It is interesting seeing Victoria through your eyes. Thanks for the ride.

  2. chris says:

    What’s behind the red door now?

  3. aFrankAngle says:

    Gotta love Victoria. It seems boats could offer cruisers a tour from the cruise dock … instead, we took the long walk into town.

    • When we went to Victoria by cruise ship they had the options of getting to town by shuttle, taxi, or tally-ho (which is a horse-drawn wagon.) Or foot power. The little harbour ferries are in the inner harbor where the big cruise ships don’t go. They aren’t anywhere near big enough to shuttle the amount of passengers disembarking a cruise ship from the cruise docks to the inner harbor. The black ball ferry from Port Angeles, Victoria Clipper from Seattle, and sea planes all unload in the inner harbor though.

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    PS: Good luck to your Seahawks today!

    • They could have used some luck at the end when they were so close to winning and then made the unbelievably bad decision to throw the ball instead of running it across the line when they had 3 downs and half a yard to go and the other team intercepted so they lost by 4 points.

  5. I’m not a boat enthusiast, but I can handle a ferry ride — especially one where I might see seals sacking out! They’re such cute creatures! Those are some very impressive houseboats.

  6. Lyn says:

    This is great valuable information for anyone visiting this area. Hopefully me one of these days

  7. Lorraine Marie Reguly says:

    I love the bank and jail… and your line about taking thieves the shortest distance from one to the other! LOL

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