My Top 10 Things To Do In
British Columbia was in abundance of beauty, a place where the wild breathes life into the city and nature is the sole focus. The photos don’t bring justice to the beautiful rugged landscape and Vancouver city is one of dreams, where you really can have the best of both worlds.
1. Garabaldi Lake, Garibaldi National Park, Whistler
I had drawled over the classic pictures of Garibaldi Lake’s vibrant turquoise waters, that appeared like a giant sapphire in the rough grey mountains. It was at the top of my To Do List.
Only when my friend and I set off at the weekend in November, it never crossed my mind that we would be trawling through snow and the lake would be a steely grey with dulcet tones of blue and purple.
Darkness had descended when we arrived at the camp site, all we could see was the unspoilt whiteness of the snow and the paw prints of a cougar.
We pitched our tent near the wooden shelter, as the snow was too deep to go further a field, and we gathered the icy water from the lake to make our dinner.
As we snuggled down into our sleeping, we were excited to see what views the sun would illuminate for us in the morning.
As we unzipped the tent door, the view took our breath away. We had camped right on the lake sure and we looked out across the still lake, enshrouded with cloud that hid the snowy mountains.
After breakfast, the sun was strongly shining and the cloud had retreated behind the mountains, revealing blue sky and emerald water. We walked down the mountain with a spring in our step, awed by nature’s beauty around us.
2. Summited Mount Frosty, 2423m, Manning Provincial Park.
I feel I briefly journeyed to Narnia on this adventure, for we hiked through land frosted with snow and jewelled with bold canary yellow trees, before leaving the clouds below us and entering a whole new world.
3. Needle Peak, 2105m.
An exquisite 816m ascent leads you to the summit of Needle Peak. In just one day you can refresh, revitalise and re-charge.
The landscape is a wonderful treat from Mother Nature. A steep winding climbleads you through a thick pine forest, which soon peters out into a beautiful carpet of vibrantly autumnally coloured shrubs; yellows, reds and oranges.
These contrasted with the deep green fir trees and stark blue sky, quilted with white cotton wool cumulous clouds, making a picturesque landscape. Occasionally, this beauty was amplified by being reflected in the small lakes that were dotted across the mountain.
We hiked to the top of a ridge, where the land plateaued and white rock flecked with black minerals appeared beneath our hiking boots, sparkling in the sun.
Needle Peak gradually soared into the sky ahead of us, looming over the immediate landscape. Hikers who were descending appeared to be the size of ants! I was bubbling with excitement to climb to the top!
It was terrific fun as we clambered and scrambled over the cascading grey craggy rock to the summit. We were rewarded for our efforts with an outstanding panoramic view of the Coquihalla area and the mountain chains stretching from the Cascades to the Coastal Mountains. You suddenly felt very humble to be at the top.
4. Canadian Thanksgiving
My newly acquainted friends invited me for a Potluck Thanksgiving, where we bonded over exquisite home cooked food and strengthened our friendships.
Everyone was vegetarian and many gluten-dairy and dairy-free, which meant I could eat virtually every dish – such a novelty for me!
During Thanksgiving, I really felt the power of food forging relationships, provoking laughter and creating happiness.
It was a lovely celebration and helped me become closer to the Canadian culture and people.
5. The Grouse Grind: 2,830 Step Challenge
It was the first weekend with my brand new bicycle and I decided to christen it by taking it on a one-day whirlwind urban adventure to Grouse Mountain.
The Grouse Grind is a popular challenge in Vancouver, with many doing it as part of their daily exercise, some run, some walk and it’s for any age! 2,830 steps guide you over 2.9km and up 853m to the top of Grouse Mountain. Discover more here.
My Epic Day; 53km travelled, 1405m ascended, 2,830 steps and 8 Hours!
Cycled University of British ColumbiaBeyond Bakery Café for my favourite almond milk latte and a quick read of my book.
Cycled Beyond Bakery Café Granville Island to check out kayaking trips and the food markets – delicious sushi!
Cycled Granville IslandGrouse Mountain: Phew! After 400m ascent, I stopped at Starbucks for a rest and refuel
The Grouse Grind, Grouse Mountain: 2, 830 steps in 1:17:40! Re-fueled, rested and admired the view. (Amazing café).
Cycled Grouse Mountain to Whole Foods, Kitsilano for food for dinner (and popcorn!).
Home! Phew! What an Awesome Day!
6. Whistler Village
Whistler is a quintessential chocolate box ski resort, especially when covered in snow!
The Sea To Sky Highway traces the West Coast along spectacular scenery of blue ocean and forested islands. I hitchhiked this route using HitchPlanet, as it is easy and very cheap!
Unfortunately I never had time to go skiing or snowboarding, but explored the area with a friend. There are lots of things to see!
- Whistler Train Wreck hiking trail; Stunning hike through forest and along Cheakamus River and local artists have transformed the train wreck into a work of art!
- Brandywine Falls; Whistler’s most iconic and photographed waterfall.
- Lakes and more waterfalls!
- I highly recommend eating at The Green Moustache - the food is amazing!
7. Whale Watching
I’ve been dreaming of whale watching in Canada since learning you can kayak with Orcas on the West Coast,
Alas I saw no orcas, nor was I kayaking; however, I was aboard a speed boat and spotted:
• Graceful Humpback Whales
• Stellar Sea Lions
• Harbour Seals
The boat took us through the Strait of Georgia and across American waters, wiggling our way through a medley of small islands.
It was very interesting to see Canada from a different perspective, obtain a glimpse into the island wilderness and imagine how the people live on these islands in houses overlooking the strait. It must be wonderful.
8. Jericho Beach, Vancouver At Sunrise
Several times I walked or cycled to the beaches that fringed the University of British Columbia’s campus, including Jericho Beach.
In the morning they were tranquil and peaceful. You could hear the ocean breaking upon the shore, the occasional squawk of a seagull and the morning melodies from other native birds.
Sometimes the fog would have crept up the beach to the band of forest and be slowly retreating as the sun gradually became stronger.
It was beautiful and a powerful time to connect with nature. The moment only lasted for a short time, as people would descend shortly after the sun had fully risen.
9. Horse Riding
With the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Equestrian Club I went for a short ride through a lively coloured autumnal forest.
My imagination was soon running wild as I dreamt of riding through Canada on horseback like a cowboy during the fur trade or in a Western film!
I have since watched Unbranded, which has only intensified my dream of becoming a cowboy one day!
10. My Favourite Hang Outs in Vancouver
Beyond Bread, 3686 W 4th Avenue – best almond milk lattes!
Seedlings Café, UBC (Vegan)
Sprouts Café, UBC – Community Eats on a Friday is awesome!
Calhoun’s Bakery Café, Kitsilano – good study space!
O5 Tea, Kitsilano – great for green teas
The Green Moustache, Whistler – my favourite Vegan café in B.C.
Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park - Late Nights was really fun!
Cineplex Odeon Fifth Avenue, Kitsilano – Over 18s cinema, luxurious seats, huge screen and relatively small. James Bond Spectre was brilliant here!
Granville Island, Vancouver – was really fun to have a mooch around and lots of food on offer!
MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op), Vancouver – massive shop selling outdoor recreation gear. If you have outdoor enthusiasts for friends, this is an awesome place to explore and see what gear is on offer!
Rain and Shine, Vancouver – Best ice cream – Vegan and gluten free and normal!