Vancouver left me dubious… Despite a clearly strong quality of life, the high number of homeless people in the streets is troubling. When you know how overpriced real estate is in this city, you get the feeling Vancouver’s quality of life comes with a hefty price tag. Aside from this fact, here is what I liked most about it.
Attached to the city center, Stanley Park surely has something to do with the fact Vancouver is so often listed as one of the world’s most livable cities. If you have plenty of time, walk along the seashore to circle the entire park. In any case, don’t miss the famous Vancouver seawall (best and most iconic view of the city) and the totems. Both are close to the park’s urban side.
Coal Harbour Seawalk
Best place to see floating houses and seaplanes up close.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden
A small and intimate traditional Chinese garden nestled among the buildings of Chinatown. There is an entrance fee to support maintaining the garden, but it’s possible to visit a part of the garden for free.
Granville Island Public Market
Both the market and the area around it are worth the visit. Kind of a village feeling, with skyscrapers on the background. The market itself is highly photogenic and fruit selection impressive.
False Creek Seawalk
Stretching roughly from Québec St to Granville market, this long stroll takes you through quiet residential areas with views towards downtown.
Everything was great from the hotel’s central location, to the elegant rooms, high-quality breakfast, heated outside pool… Just loved it!
Vancouver’s excellence may not have totally convinced me, Vancouver Island on the other hand was a real gem with a great bunch of wonders! Getting to the island’s best places ain’t easy though… First you need to take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen to Nanaimo, then drive for many hours to the west coast and/or Victoria. But you should definitely do it. Why? Read on!
Pacific Rim National Park
From Ucluelet to Tofino, this national park is splendid with endless sand beaches and a very unique rainforest (yes, a rainforest!) with many easy short trails. Don’t forget to buy a parking permit from the self-service machines and to put it visibly on your dashboard to avoid getting a fine (not always clearly indicated).
In addition to the Pacific Rim National Park, you should visit the small and picturesque village of Tofino at the end of the road. For dinner, head to Sobo. If you dream of falling asleep to the sound of the ocean’s waves, a strong option to consider is Long Beach Lodge Resort. Be careful when picking your room, as they not all face the sea…
The island’s capital city (and British Columbia’s capital city as well) has quite a british feeling. This feeling was enhanced by the very romantic Abigail’s Hotel where I spend the night in a huge canopy bed. Not particularly beautiful, Victoria however has a pleasant ambience, posh and laid-back at the same time. The only outstanding part of the city in my opinion is Fisherman’s Wharf and its many colorful floating houses. From there you can also go for a whale safari, which I strongly recommend! I have gone on whale watching tours in Tadoussac (Québec), in Iceland (Dalvik) and in Victoria. Though I enjoyed them all very much, the one in Victoria had a little something more. Of course a successful whale watching tour depends in many changing factors and whales are unpredictable, but still. I chose the sunset tour with a company named Eagle Wing Tours and boarded a powerful speedboat for the day’s last few hours. We saw a lot of orcas, and humpback whales very close to the boat! They even offered a taxi ride back to the hotel after the tour.
End your visit in the region serenely with the perfectly groomed and well-known Butchart Gardens, close to Victoria. Pricey and crowded, but quite amazing.