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Prior to Takeoff: Things to Know Before Flying in a Seaplane

Things to Know Before Flying a Seaplane in Vancouver
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One of the greatest assets of seaplanes is their ability to land in a bunch of locations, including lakes, rivers, and even oceans! 

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time flyer, understanding seaplanes is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable journey. Read on as we dive in on the things you need to know when flying on a seaplane in Vancouver.

What to know about riding a seaplane in Vancouver?

What to know about riding a seaplane in Vancouver

What you need to know about riding a seaplane in Vancouver is that the seaplane airport is located in Coal Harbour, and tickets can be easily booked online.

There are also various seaplane tours to choose from, including 20- and 45-minute scenic flights and direct flights to Victoria, Tofino, and Whistler. It’s also worth exploring the seaplane terminal’s amenities.

The seaplane airport is at Coal Harbour

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Down by Coal Harbour, you’ll find the seaplane airport right by the water, smack in downtown. You can’t miss it, especially with the Olympic Cauldron nearby, a testament from the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Once you’re done with your seaplane adventure, there are a lot of things to do in Coal Harbour. Be it checking out the restaurants, taking a stroll along the Seawall, or just soaking in those killer views of Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains.

You can book your seaplane tickets online

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You can easily snag your seaplane ticket online, and there’s a bunch of spots where you can book a ride:

  • Harbour Air – services to places like Hornby Island and Silva Bay. Also offers private charters to popular southern British Columbia (BC) charter destinations.
  • Seair Seaplanes – will take you from Vancouver to spots like Victoria, Nanaimo, and even Whistler.
  • Gulf Island – offers trips to Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands.
  • Salt Spring – scheduled service to Saltspring Island, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Downtown Vancouver, and Pat Bay and Maple Bay on Vancouver Island. Charter flights and scenic sightseeing flights available to any spots in the West Coast of BC.

Once you’re at the seaplane terminal, you’ll find a check-in desk, a chill waiting area, a spot to grab snacks, and a gift shop. 

Your boarding pass is this small laminated card, and when it’s time to hop on your seaplane, your captain will meet you in the waiting area, and you just stroll out to the dock.

There’s tons of seaplane tours to choose from!

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Vancouver’s got some killer tours, and the seaplane option is top-notch! Whether you’re in it for the thrill or using it as a cool way to get somewhere else, it’s a winner.

20-minute tour

If you’re only in Vancouver for a day or two (row 1434, “2 days in vancouver”), then it’s best that you go for the 20-minute seaplane tour.  With this choice, you get to soak in the stunning views of the harbor and the majestic mountain peaks.

45-minute tour

If you’re all about taking in as much of Vancouver as possible, this 45-minute tour is the way to go. You’ll get to feast your eyes on even more of the cityscape and cruise over Howe Sound, Vancouver’s iconic fjord, on the way back.

Vancouver to Victoria

This 35-minute ride has some seriously breathtaking views from the air, cruising from Vancouver to Victoria by seaplane. Along the way, catch sight of Burrard Inlet, the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge, and the lush greenery of Stanley Park’s Brockton Peninsula.

You’ll land at Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where you’ll have the chance to wander along the waterfront walkway, soaking in sights like the majestic Fairmont Empress hotel and the grand BC Parliament Buildings.

Vancouver to Tofino

This tour whisks you away to a secluded surf town tucked away on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. 

It’s about an hour-long flight to get there, and let us tell you, the views of BC’s jaw-dropping scenery from above are nothing short of spectacular. Touching down on the stunning island of Tofino, you’re in for a real treat.

Vancouver to Whistler Day Trip

Instead of driving to Vancouver to Whistler, why not opt for a seaplane day trip instead? In just about 35 minutes, you’ll be whisked away on a roundtrip flight from Vancouver straight to Whistler.

Vancouver to Seattle

Heading down to Seattle from Vancouver? Well, why settle for a mundane journey when you can turn it into an unforgettable experience with this seaplane tour? You get to take a water take-off and landing coupled with breathtaking aerial views.

It’s wise to wear casual clothing

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Vancouver earns its nickname “Raincouver” fair and square. With over 300 days of rain a year, this city sits snug in a coastal rainforest. 

So, when you’re gearing up for a day out, it’s a smart move to pack some jeans, a jacket, and comfy footwear. You never know when those raindrops might come knocking!

Take advantage of the airport’s facilities

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There’s tons of free stuff at the Vancouver seaplane airport—toilets, complimentary tea and coffee, a gift shop, and lounge seating. Plus, the lounge treats you to killer views of Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains.

There’s also the Cockpit Cafe. They serve up delicious coffee, fresh salads, and tasty sandwiches. Plus, they’re fully licensed, so you can even grab a local craft beer.

The best time to ride a seaplane is during the summer months 

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While Vancouver seaplane tours are up and running year-round, we highly recommend aiming for a ride during the summer months, from July to September. 

Those clear and sunny days are where it’s at! Trust us, you’ll want to soak up every bit of those jaw-dropping views without any pesky clouds in the way.

You can park right next to the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre

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Right next to the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre is an EasyPark lot. It’s a convenient option for those looking to park their vehicles while taking a seaplane tour or charter flight. The price is high, though ($17.20 for two hours).

A cheaper option is to take public transit. You could hop on the Skytrain, either the Canada or Expo line to Burrard Station. From there, the seaplane airport is just a quick five-minute stroll.

Everyone of all ages is welcome here!

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Passengers of all ages are welcome to ride on a seaplane. The little ones under the age of 2 typically fly for free, snuggled up on their parent or guardian’s lap for the ride. Meanwhile, kiddos aged 2-11 get their own seats but at a discounted rate.

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