Hullo Ferry: New Service from Vancouver Downtown to Nanaimo

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Vancouver Island has become a home away from home over the past couple of years. I visited the excellent Vancouver Island resort, Tigh na Mara right after things reopened after the pandemic. I’ve been to the stunning Strathcona National Park and visited with friends in Campbell River. As I tend not to drive, I’ve become familiar with BC Ferries’ service from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. It’s a perfectly nice service that exists mainly for transporting cars and trucks, as well as quite a few foot passengers who are made up of both local and international travellers.

There’s only ever been one problem for tourists like me: the trek out of Vancouver City, where most of us are likely to stay, to Horseshoe Bay. It’s a bus or taxi ride and, while the bus doesn’t cost too much, a taxi starts to ramp up the costs and the bus can be super busy at peak times. So when I heard about Hullo Ferry, the new ferry service from downtown Vancouver to Nanaimo, my ears pricked up. I was in Vancouver not long after it started service to collect a friend visiting from Vancouver Island and I have to say I was impressed. In this article, I give you the information you’ll need to see if this ferry works for you.

History of Fast Ferry Services (Nanaimo-Vancouver)

According to CBC, previous attempts to run a passenger-only ferry on the route from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver have been thwarted by both debris on the route and a lack of demand for the service.

Despite problems on the first couple of days of service, mainly due to weather, the Hullo Ferry service is now up and running and, according to my friends on Vancouver Island, will make access to Vancouver City both cheaper and more convenient.

Quick Facts about Hullo Ferry

  • The company has two new catamaran ferries.
  • Each ferry can carry up to 354 foot passengers.
  • The journey time is 70 minutes.
  • With prices starting at $40, it’s much cheaper than flying.
  • Wi-fi is free and available on board for the entire trip.
  • There are typically four sailings in each direction every day.

Hullo Ferry Schedule

According to their timetable, Hullo Ferry will operate 4 times per day in each direction:

Extract from Hullo’s website

Special Events Schedule

There are special arrangements that line up with major events in Vancouver. For these major concerts or sporting events, there will be an 11.30pm sailing from Vancouver to Nanaimo. Check the special events schedule here.

Terminal at Nanaimo – photo courtesy of Amy Dugas

Three Levels of Service

Hullo Ferry offers three levels of service: Comfort, Premium and Business. To be honest, there are pretty minimal differences between the three levels, so if getting an included snack or sitting on the upper deck are important to you, go for Premium.

$39.99 Comfort

* Reserved Seating on Main Deck
* Charge Ports
* Free wi-fi

$49.99 Premium

Comfort perks plus:
* Upper deck
* Dedicated charge ports
* High-speed internet
* Priority off-boarding

$59.99 Business

Same as Premium plus:
* Complimentary snack & drink

As at Autumn 2023, Hullo Ferry is offering a discount of $10 for first bookings. There are special fares in each class of travel for three other groups: Infant, Child, and Senior. The best value for these groups is in Comfort (free for Infants, $19.99 for each Child and Senior). Check the latest pricing here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Nanaimo Terminal fully finished?

No, not quite. There is a terminal building now and the parking lot work is incomplete. It can be a little confusing to navigate, but follow the Hullo Ferry flags to find your way around.

Nanaimo Terminal. Photo courtesy of Amy Dugas

Where is the Terminal in Downtown Vancouver?

You can find the arrival zone for Hullo Ferry at 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3, Canada. I found the easiest way to search in Google Maps or Apple Maps is to input “Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre”

Can you take a bike on Hullo Ferry?

No, not at the time of writing (Autumn 2023). Hullo say they are working out a system of allowing NON-ELECTRIC bicycle reservations, but it hasn’t been launched yet.

What are the luggage allowances on Hullo Ferry?

Each passenger can bring a carry-on size bag and a personal item (this is included in the base fare). There is no provision for larger bags at this point. Passengers with children can take a stroller.

Can I bring a pet on board?

Small animals (up to 10kg) are permitted to accompany their human. Each pet has to be in a pet carrier and remain with the owner.

What has your experience with Hullo been like? Share your experience using the Comment box below.

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