Driving In BC
Getting To The Best Dive Sites
Driving in BC is easy, but I hate to admit it, I am completely ‘directionally challenged’ no matter where I go. I am so bad that I recently bought myself a Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS system. This little baby is great and helps me to drive with ease around British Columbia (all of North America actually). Traveling is much more fun now!
For most people, though, getting around the roads and highways of British Columbia is easy. The streets and exit ramps are well marked, and most drivers are very courteous.
There are no freeways though, and rush hour traffic can get very backed up, particularly around the lower mainland. There are also lots of one way streets in the downtown cores.
It is important to remember that our speed signs are in kilometers, not miles per hour. One kilometer equals approximately 0.62 miles. City driving speed is usually around 50 km (30 miles) per hour, and highway speed is between 80 and 100 km (55-60 miles) per hour.
Please relax, follow the laws, drive the speed limit, and enjoy the beautiful British Columbia scenery.
It is also expected that you will keep in the right hand lane when driving on the highways, except when you wish to pass another car. To keep our roads (and your dive trip) safe, please remember to use your signal light too.
Driving In BC - Routes To The Best Dive Sites
Highway 1, The Trans Canada Highway, brings scuba divers from all over Canada from the east to the west coast, and will lead you into Vancouver.
Highway 17 will bring you from the BC Ferry terminal at Tsawwassen (lower mainland) to the junction of Highway 99, which brings you into Vancouver.
Scuba Divers who either live in the Okanagan wine region or are visiting and touring some of our world class wineries have two main driving in BC options. Highway 5 is a toll highway and will quickly bring you from the Thompson Okanagan to the town of Hope, or the older Highway 5A will take you along a beautiful, windy mountainous route from the town of Princeton to Hope. At Hope, you can join Highway 1 and head into Vancouver.
Scuba Driving Tip: The mountain passes between the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland and from Victoria to the mid and upper Island areas take you through some pretty high altitudes and can be subject to sudden and dramatic weather changes. It is important in winter that your vehicle or your rental vehicle has chains or snow tires on, and that you pay attention to any posted warning signs. Be careful and allow extra time getting to some of the world’s best scuba diving sites.
Also while driving in BC to dive and beach sites on Vancouver Island, Highway 1, the Trans Canada Highway, runs from near the BC Ferry terminal in Nanaimo south to Victoria. Highway 19 takes you from Nanaimo north to the central areas, and Highway 4 takes you to the scenic, coastal communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, including world famous Long Beach.
From the BC Ferry terminal at Swartz Bay, Highway 17 will bring you past the seaside town of Sidney where there are some great nearby dive sites and into Downtown Victoria.
From the BC Ferry terminal at Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, Highway 101 leads you to the spectacular dive shops and premiere dive sites near Gibsons and Sechelt.
Divers coming on the I-5 from Washington State will change at the US/Canada border from the I-5 to Highway 99, and will drive past my home city of White Rock, British Columbia, all the way to downtown Vancouver. Highway 99 also continues on along the stunning Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler/Blackcomb Mountains.
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