Here’s what it looks like to land in Vancouver inside a seaplane (VIDEO)


Watching the seaplanes take off and land from Vancouver’s Coal Harbour is something locals and tourists alike love to do. Having been a spectator many times, it was definitely a thrill to find myself on the other side of things, on a Harbour Air flight returning to Vancouver on a crystal clear summer day.

Vancouver as seen from a seaplane (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

The flight was one on Harbour Air’s brand-new Tofino-Vancouver route, which launched just this past May. It’s a seasonal service, and they’re using a brand new nine-seater Cessna Caravan EX. Our pilot for the return flight told us that as of our flight, the plane had just 200 flight hours logged.

The ride between Vancouver and Tofino is just under and hour, dock to dock. The flight originates from Harbour Air’s Coal Harbour terminal daily, and flies to the dock at the Tofino Resort & Marina (incredible incentive to grab the flight if you are staying at this recently refreshed multi-service property) then basically turns around for the return flight daily, Thursday through Monday.

Our ride (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

I’ll confess, I’d been on a seaplane once before, on a cloudy and turbulent day, and had a hard time with the noise and the bumps. But this Cessna is a dream–smooth and far quieter–making it all the easier to take in the incredible views.

The route of course takes you over Vancouver’s West End and the North Shore before crossing the Strait and going over Vancouver Island, around Nanaimo and Parksville/Qualicum Beach.

Almost in Tofino (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

Then it’s across the island over Port Alberni and to the inlet side of Tofino, with views of snow-capped mountains, lakes, and beautiful land as far as the eye can see. On the way into Vancouver we swung a bit north and crossed over Bowen Island before entering the harbour, heading east then turning around to come in facing the west.

I was lucky enough to grab a seat in the first row, so I could watch the pilot handle the plane and get a killer view–though in this plane any seat offers an incredible view. Here’s our landing in Vancouver:

If you’re planning a trip to Tofino and are interested in getting more information about traveling there by seaplane, check out Harbour Air’s site.

Departing Vancouver. The Lions Gate Bridge was closed due to an incident that morning, which is why there’s no traffic on it (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)


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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, and the co-host and co-producer of the Vancouver Is Awesome Podcast. A fifth generation Vancouverite and life-long foodie, Lindsay also serves as a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of, in her past life in L.A. she earned an MA in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: // Twitter/Instagram: @squashblossom