How to get here
From Victoria: There are two options for driving to Bamfield:
Recommended route – Via Nanaimo: From Departure Bay, turn right on the #1 Island Highway travelling north. Follow the directions to Port Alberni.
Once you arrive in Port Alberni, follow the signs for Bamfield. You will enter a gravel logging road that is approximately 76 kms. Follow the signs, or alternatively, follow the power lines to Bamfield. The Bamfield road is marked with red and white kilometer signs.Total travel time between Nanaimo and Port Alberni is ~ 1.5 hours, and from Port Alberni to Bamfield is ~ 1.5 – 2 hours depending on road conditions, at an (average speed 50 km/hr). This road is USUALLY well maintained.
Via Duncan: Travel north on the #1 Island Highway to Duncan (1 hour). Just north of Duncan turn left on Hwy. 18, travelling west to Lake Cowichan. Passing through Lake Cowichan, you will enter a network of gravel logging roads. Follow the signs for Bamfield. The logging route approximately 120kms. Total travel time is ~ 4 hours depending on road conditions. This road is very rough and NOT well maintained.
IMPORTANT TIPS: Regardless of your start point, you will eventually be driving on a semi-public, logging road. The road between Port Alberni and Bamfield is usually well maintained and well traveled, however, it is important for you to know the following:
- SLOW DOWN when driving onto and off bridges (all one lane). There are often large potholes on either end of bridges and hitting them at speed can pop your tires. Also, your vehicle will tend to slide as you mount the bridge surface if you are going too fast.
- Follow the power lines and they will lead you to Bamfield. There is one important exception, and the directional sign is often down or bent at this location making it easy to go the wrong way. This occurs between KM 34 and KM 35. When you get to the intersection, DO NOT turn left. Go straight, up a slight hill, onto a smaller road that does not have power lines. The power lines rejoin this road in a very short distance.
- Check your spare tire before you leave and make sure you know how to change a tire before driving this road.
- The road is narrow and winding which reduces visibility. It is recommended that you drive with your headlights on and reduce speeds accordingly. Pull over whenever possible to let others pass you.
- You will likely encounter logging trucks on the road as current logging activity is 7 days per week. They have the right of way, so please be considerate and yield to them. The truck drivers will generally pull over to let you pass once they are in an area where it is safe to do so.
- There are no gas stations en route so ensure that your gas tank is filled before you embark on the logging road.
Passenger ferry from Port Alberni to Bamfield:
The M/V Francis Barkley provides ferry and freight service to Bamfield three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Additional sailings during the summer months. Passenger service only.
Transporting your boat on a trailer on the logging road is challenging. Another option is to launch in Port Alberni and cruise down the canal.
Consider the weather conditions!
By Public Bus
The West Coast Trail Express leaves Victoria and stops in Honeymoon Bay (by pre-paid reservation only), daily en-route to Bamfield (May-September). This service no longer stops in Port Alberni, and service from Nanaimo is available June – August only. Contact them for reservations and travel details.
This company also has charter services. Toll free 1-888-999-2288.
The Pachena Bay Express operates between Port Alberni, Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from May to October. Call (250) 728-1290.
The Alberni Island Shuttle charter service. Call 250-735-1466, or toll free 1-800-474-3303
Float plane charter companies:
Harbour Air: Departure from Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. Toll free 1-800-665-0212.
Seair: Departure from Vancouver. Toll free 1-800-447-3247.
West Coast Air: Departure from Vancouver Downtown and Airport, Victoria and Nanaimo. Toll free 1-800-347-2222.
KD Air: Toll Free 1-800-665-4244