This is much larger than i had anticipated and could be a full day trip with a picnic. The walk or preferably a cycle around the water's edge is a good starting point but there is so much more to it. Go up to the viewing point to see Vancouver beneath you - cruise liners and sea planes etc. A great way to start a Canadian adventure.
This truly is the greatest ferry ever, The mixture of brilliant views and perfect length make this a beautiful journey, in fact one I would do simply for the ride. Starting off in central Vancouver you can take a bus too Horseshoe Bay, a beautiful cove or to Tsawwassen which ferries also go from. From Horseshoe Bay you the views you get are amazing, the contrast and sudden change from city to rural beauty is exquisite. While on Vancouver Island I would recommend exploring the Pacific Rim, a wonderful walking area and surfing beaches. Such a wonderful place.
While there you could WWOOF, which is a voluntarily work scheme in which you work for food and accommodation, usually five hours a day. A brilliant way to meet the locals and save money.
This was an experience that everybody should have in their lifetime. A day trip to see the wild whales and orca in the Canada Straight, leaving from Granville Island is undoubtably the best whale watching experience from Vancouver. The tour encompasses natural whale watching with total respect for the natural habitat of the whales and their co-habitants, harbour seals, sea lions and bald eagles in their natural scenic environment cruising through the gulf islands.
The tour was guided by a naturalist, very knowledgeable about marine life and the area, using underwater hydrophones to capture the noise of the whales in their pods communicating with each other. There were also related books and articles from the National Geographic on board. You get plenty of time to walk around and stand in the back part of the un-enclosed boat and watch the whales and the otherwise unreachable parts of Canada's coastline.
I recommend this tour wholeheartedly. There are many whale watching tours advertised in Vancouver, most of them picturing speedboats with tourists in wetsuit outfits! If your thing is more laid back, to walk about the boat and photograph what you see, appreciate the stunning environment and relax (in your own clothes!) then this is the tour for you.
We were lucky enough to see three pods of whales travelling close to each other, killer whales and sea lions (respecting the regulations of distance of boats by law) and part of the money you pay for the tour goes to the research and protection of these amazing creatures.
My top tips: hats, gloves, a bottle of water and a snack bar for your pocket (you travel a long way out and are gone a few hours), leave the digital camera at home in favour of your old APS film camera (I had much better pictures on that than my mum on her digital camera- the shutter speeds are too slow on digital to capture the best of shots). And on that note, as our guide poignantly pointed out - don't miss what you are seeing because you are watching it through the camera lens. You can download brilliant pictures from the website!
I did this trip with my mum. I am planning to return to Vancouver and would happily do this excursion alone as a single traveller so don't be put off...
Nothing beats a summer's sunset than watching it along Spanish Banks. Just aim for Jericho Beach and walk along the beach until you find your perfect log.
The view stretches from the cruise ships on the horizon off to Alaska to the mountains to the city.
The atmosphere of couples and families just relaxing is unbeatable. Truly the best way to see the city's beauty.
Resting against the beach logs on this Kitsilano neighbourhood beach and watching the sunset, you will experience all the quintessential elements of Vancouver at once. The beach, a view of the mountains, the ocean air, and a purely laid-back West Coast vibe. To make it even better, stroll along barefoot with a specialty coffee or smoothie from any of the local cafes and take in dinner at the Naam restaurant a couple of blocks away, where the service is so refreshingly unhurried it IS the evening's entertainment. Namaste!
Naam restaurant: 2724 West Fourth Avenue, Kitsilano;
tel: 738 7151;
Worth the trip alone. The Pacific beaches are stunning and Tofino is a great little town - posh-hippy, laid back, with great restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe offers sublime high quality food. Walk through the temperate rainforests and the cathedrals of tall cedars and pines. You will probably see bears on your way too. In Tofino try the Wolf House bed and breakfast, a really great bed and breakfast with lots of character.
Tofino is on Vancouver Island;
Rainforest Cafe: 250 725 2215;
Wolf House: 250 725-2330
Cycle around Stanley Park, then take a small ferry to Granville Island and then go along Kitsilano beaches - totem poles, wildlife and great views looking back at the skyline and the mountains.
Cycle hire shops can be found along Denman/Robson Street area. For details see: englishbay.com/?category=recreation
The Grouse Grind is a fairly intense hike up Grouse Mountain, one of three mountains on the North Shore. It's a rewarding hike, and you can further reward yourself with a pint at the top and a Gondola ride back down the mountain if you don't feel like trudging back down.
The world's longest (and highest!) suspension bridge, over a river at the foot of Grouse mountain. Get the SeaBus from the Waterfront Station, and then a bus towards Grouse Mountain (a two zone ticket will cover the whole journey). There are great filmset-like views from the bridge itself, plus a network of platforms linking huge pine trees once you reach the other side. Keep your ticket for a discount on entry to Grouse Mountain. Get the SeaBus back to downtown Vancouver in the evening for fantastic views of the skyline as the sun sets.
The best place in North America to grab an all-over tan and partake in Amsterdam-style smoking.
Trail 6 from the University of British Columbia. Ask anybody how to get there. Locals, police, politicians, artists and visiting Americans all know how to get there.
If you want to see artists and bourgeousie come together in what used to be a down and out area, try Main st/Mt. Pleasant. There's a cluster of hipsters, boutiques, coffee shops and ethnic restaurants that give the atmosphere of the way Vancouver once was: countercultural.
Main St. spans from our 'skid row' area on Hastings up to an Indian district. There's everything in between, including expensive character homes.
In the heart of China Town there is an oasis. The Chinese gardens are the biggest replica outside of China (I think) and are beautifully kept.
In the summer you can see turtles floating in the ponds and the flowers are stunning.
The guided tours are free and really interesting.
Well worth popping into especially if you happen to be in China town.
578 Carrall Street;
tel: 604 662 3207;
Don't limit your stay in Vancouver to just seeing Vancouver. The dormitory town of North Vancouver is separated from Vancouver by the Burrard Inlet and your choice of one of two road bridges (we like it that way).
The best way to get there from downtown Vancouver is by taking the Seabus from Waterfront Station in Gastown (a 15 minute ferry ride costing $3.25 and is valid on all buses for 90 minutes). You arrive at Lonsdale Quay, a smaller version of Granville Island, but this is just the jumping off point for a whole range of activities. You can use your ferry ticket to take a bus to Grouse Mountain & take the cable car up to see the bears they have there. You can take a different bus to Lynn Valley & hike through forested trails. You can take yet another bus and browse the Persian stores on Lonsdale Avenue & end up at Brazza's (19th and Lonsdale) for a Cappucino and a gelato. The more energetic of you can take a bus to Lighthouse park in West Vancouver. A 30 minute hike through ancient forest rewards you with a view over the waters at the edge of Howe Sound, to downtown Vancouver.
If you are really committed to do something extensive like visit Whistler, then you probably have to drive. Take the Lions' Gate bridge from downtown Vancouver and follow the highway & signs there (don't forget to gasp in admiration at the North Shore mountains as you cross the bridge). You must appoint a designated driver who will watch the treacherous highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) while everyone else oohs and ahhs at the view up Howe Sound to the glaciers at the top.
I live in North Vancouver & I think it represents the more natural side of the city.
Take the Seabus (www.translink.bc.ca/Transportation_Services/SeaBus). Driving to North Vancouver requires an understanding of the local drivers - something even the local drivers don't have.
A special coffee bar in a town full of coffee bars. What makes this place on Granville Island so special is the view of the North Shore mountains and the water of False Creek leading out under Burrard Street bridge. Commercial and pleasure boats are always going by, heading off into Howe Sound and beyond. A truly relaxing way to enjoy a great cup of coffee.
2698 West 4th Avenue (west end of the Granville Island market, close by the water);
tel: 604 688 1173
What Grouse Mountain lacks in size it more than makes up for at night.
From late November to early April (depending on the snow, of course) this is the closest and most accessible of the downtown ski resorts. For the ultimate Grouse Mountain experience you have to go after dark. Take the 6pm cable car for cheaper tickets, rent your skis at the top and head off down The Cut for what is, in my opinion anyway, the most stunning night time view you will ever get from a ski run. Laid out before you twinkling away is the entirety of Vancouver and on a clear night you can see right out to the ships in the Burrard Inlet. Fantastic.
Follow it up with a few Rickards Reds in the great mountain-top restaurant before catching the last cable car down (about 11pm).
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC, V7R 4K9;
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