As you wing your way across the water to Canada you will have a great birds eye view of the San Juan and Gulf Islands.
Your short trip to Victoria, a gem on the largest island on the west coasts of the continents of North and South America, named for Queen Victoria, was founded in 1843, and as befitting the provincial capital of British Columbia, dominated by its imposing Parliament buildings.
It is thought to be very English, and while it retains some of the character of a little ’England’ it has its own old world charm. The city centre is wrapped around a picturesque and busy harbour – ferries coming and going – float planes flying back and forth from Vancouver. The Coho ferry to the mainland connects with the USA just across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to PortAngeles - all back stopped by Mount Olympia.
The San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island vie for the prize of the most beautiful Island in North America have been described in the Travel and Leisure magazine Continental US and Canada with Vancouver Island #1, and the San Juan Islands #2.
One of its world renowned attractions – the Butchart Gardens hosts over 1 million visitors a year and is conveniently situated between the airport and the downtown harbour close to the Butterfly Farm - both easily accessible by the local BC Transit double decker buses.
One of the best ways to get a good idea of the city and its attractions, is to book a seat on one of the ‘hop on hop off’ buses allowing the visitor to see the sights and then return to examine those places of particular interest later.
The luxury Fairmont Hotel on the harbour features a popular English afternoon tea with all it should entail cucumber sandwiches, scones and cream, the best of British tea. It’s not inexpensive, but a memorable onetime experience for grown-ups. For a completely different attraction and one not be missed by the younger crowd, is the Bug Zoo - nothing like making friends with a tarantula!
Or maybe just rent a bike and leisurely explore those areas you would like to see more of, such as the picturesque south western coast road, or the Terminal Building, home of the Robert Bateman Centre and collection.
From the San Juan Islands and Seattle, NorthStar Air Tours offers both one day tours or two day overnight packages. The day tours range from the ‘go as you please’ - a fun concept that includes just the basics such as a ‘double decker’ BC Transit Bus which will get you into Victoria by way of Butchart Gardens and the Butterfly Farm – and costs just $5.00 all day! One of the world’s great bargains and a fun way to meet the locals. Just be sure to get the bus back to the airport in time for your departure.
The two days overnight tour includes a two day ‘hop on hop off’ bus ticket that covers all the main points of interest but does not go to either Butchart Gardens or the Butterfly Farm which you visit on your way to downtown and the inner harbour. It also includes accommodation. If you are a San Juan Islander, with the way the exchange rate as it is between the US and Canadian dollar now, makes even grocery shopping in Sidney a bargain and a great day out at the same time!