Seeing the Sights from the Sky(dive)

For my 27th birthday I decided to do something a little different. Skydiving! It was always on my bucket list, so in 2019 I began to do my research. There are a few places to skydive near Vancouver but I chose Skydive Vancouver Island because, unlike the options in Whistler and Abbotsford, they offered a transfer to and from their location via shuttle bus. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, or my ‘About‘ page, you’ll know by now that I don’t drive. So, finding great attractions and trips to take that don’t require a car or driving is what I’m all about.

Skydive Vancouver Island is now located in Nanoose Bay. When I went in 2019, they were operating out of Qualicum Airport, which is quite close to Nanoose Bay. The sights you’ll see from the sky of the land below, the ocean, and surrounding areas will be very similar to what I saw. It was spectacular. This beautiful land, where Skydive Vancouver Island currently operates out of, is the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. The Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose First Nation) in particular have inhabited this land and continue to do so to this day.

Today, I’ll take you through the steps I took to access Skydive Vancouver Island without the use of a car. For reference, I’m based in Vancouver and I travelled in the month of July. And even though they have moved their ‘drop zone’ location, it won’t change the journey as they still provide a shuttle.

Getting There

If it wasn’t obvious from the name of the skydiving company, you’ll have to make your way to Vancouver Island. When you book your skydive experience, make sure to let them know you’ll be a foot passenger on the ferry, and your time of arrival in Nanaimo (Departure Bay) so they can arrange for their shuttle to pick you up (and drop you back).

As with travelling to Tigh-Na-Mara, you’ll need to get to Horseshoe Bay to board the ferry to Nanaimo (Departure Bay). You can either take the 257 express bus, or the 250 from Downtown Vancouver. The express can take less than an hour depending on where you board so opt for the 257 where possible. The bus lets you out right at the terminal. I would recommend booking your ferry times in advance for this particular trip because you don’t want to miss your shuttle or jump time.

Once you board the ferry, it’s a non-stop sail and takes under 2 hours. The shuttle bus from Skydive Vancouver Island will meet you right outside the terminal, and it’s about a 20-25 minute drive to their new ‘drop zone’.

Skydive Vancouver Island

As I mentioned previously, I decided to jump from a plane for my 27th birthday. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that I decided to do this by myself. No family or friends in attendance. I felt like my birthdays had become an excuse for other people to plan things for me to do to celebrate, which is great and I always appreciate, but I wanted to do something for myself.

I had a really great experience, and a lot of that has to do with Skydive Vancouver Island. They’re a family-owned business lead by Gord and Allison, and they have a great crew of professional skydivers behind them. On the day of my jump, the skies weren’t clear in the morning, so Gord offered to drop me off in Coombs for an hour or two to pass some time. Coombs is famously known for its Old Country Market’s rooftop inhabitants: goats!

But the goats aren’t the only interesting thing to do in Coombs. They have a bunch of quirky stores, restaurants, ice cream options, stone sculptures, and the Grace United Church to wander around. Definitely a spot to fritter some time away!

The skies had cleared when Gord came back to pick me up, and within no time I was getting ready for my tandem skydive. I had already filled in my waiver prior to arriving on the Island. I checked in and Gord, who happened to be my instructor, spent about 20 minutes explaining the process, teaching me the body placements and positions, and getting me all set up in the tandem gear. He really made me feel at ease and well prepared for the jump.

Before I knew it, I was being led over to the little plane, with my new jumping buddy in tow. Yes, I managed to find a buddy, and I don’t mean Gord! There was a small group of men on a stag party, who had freshly arrived from golfing, and because of the uneven numbers in their group, one joined mine. And let me tell you, he brought some laughs and enjoyment. Not only did he invite me to his friend’s wedding as his plus one (I later found out his wife was his plus one!), he was also very interested in us becoming a couple. He had a ‘house and money’ and wondered what else I could need!? ‘Emotional intelligence’ I responded. And someone single would be a bonus.

We all got a good laugh as we ascended, and I surprisingly wasn’t nervous, until the next thing I knew the pilot had reached across me to open the door, and Gord had flung us out! I let out quite possibly the manliest scream to ever exit my mouth at the initial freefall, but within minutes I was in awe of the scenery. I even got to steer the parachute for a little while too. It was incredible. And for me personally, a once in a lifetime experience that I highly recommend.

They have a variety of options available for you to choose from. I personally did the 10,000 feet jump and opted for the selfie-cam pictures and fully edited personalized video. It was a Wednesday when I jumped, so I was also able to avail of their weekday discounts. You can also opt to pay in full when booking or with a deposit, paying the rest on arrival. I am pretty sure the cost of the shuttle was included when I booked, but you can contact them to double check. The cost overall for me was around CAD 400 not including the ferry. It was so worth it, and I’ll never forget my 27th birthday.

Some Final Tips From Me:

  • Opt for some photos of your experience, whether it’s the selfie-cam option or the pro-cam video and picture package they offer. You’ll definitely want to look back on your experience.
  • If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or something you’ve toyed with, don’t be put off if you can’t find someone to go with you. I did this all by myself, and you can too.
  • Pre-book the ferry if possible, and pre-arrange the shuttle to and from the ferry.
  • If you’re using your Compass card, make sure you have enough fare to complete the journey on transit. Or else you’ll need exact change for the bus from Vancouver to Horseshoe bay and back again.
  • Make sure you have emergency contact details and someone who knows you’re jumping – just in case. And your insurance details.
  • I recommend wearing full length pants/trousers. I chose leggings. It wasn’t cold in July, so I jumped in a t-shirt, but pack a sweater just in case.
  • I didn’t eat a huge meal beforehand. I did have a sandwich on the ferry ride over, and waited until after Gord dropped me back to the ferry terminal to eat. I walked to the McDonald’s and tucked in to a Big Mac Meal to celebrate!
  • If you would prefer to stay on the mainland, the Vancouver Skydiving option located in Abbotsford does have information on their website for accessing their location via transit.

Thank you so much for reading. All photographs and opinions are my own. I have not been sponsored by any business mentioned in this post. Please do let me know if I have fact-checked anything incorrectly, I’m always open to feedback and corrections.

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