Howe Sound

Your Guide to Adventure Holidays in British Columbia

British Columbia is Canada’s westernmost province. It is home to over five million people as well as the busy cities of Vancouver and Victoria. With the Canadian Rockies as a stunning backdrop and 14 national parks to explore, it’s the perfect location for some memorable adventures.

When should I go to British Columbia?

BC’s climate is relatively mild year round. In coastal areas, temperatures rarely drop below zero degrees, though inland temperatures are lower particularly in mountain areas such as Whistler – a popular ski resort. Conversely, BC’s interior is hotter in summer than the milder coastal areas where there is also more rain.

The best time for exploring BC is between May and September when a wide range of activities are in full swing and wildlife is most active. In particular bear and whale watching opportunities are best. 

Where should I go in British Columbia?

The starting point for most visitors to British Columbia is the city of Vancouver, the third largest in Canada. Far more than a bustling metropolis, this is a beautiful city that deserves time to explore. From here you can also reach Vancouver Island on a short ferry ride. Covering over 12,000 square miles, this is undoubtedly one of the top places to visit in the province offering wilderness and wildlife in abundance. It is also home to Pacific Rim National Park and Victoria, the provincial capital.

Great Bear Rainforest on BC’s mainland coast is also a must-visit for keen bear watchers. Inland, the ski resort of showcases the province’s mountainous backbone.

British Columbia’s many parks all offering different, but equally beautiful scenery and wildlife. Yoho National Park and Nairn Falls Provincial Park are all stunning places to go hiking, rafting, or climbing.

Lake in BC

What is British Columbia famous for?

British Columbia is known for its diverse and spectacular landscapes from the precipitous mountain ranges to the elongated coastline peppered with inlets and islands. Its largest city, Vancouver is frequently cited as one of the best cities in the world to live.

It is also known for its excellent bear locations and opportunities to see orca whales as well as its First Nations heritage.

BC is also home to Whistler, Canada’s largest ski resort, its slopes playing host to many of the events in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

What should I do in Vancouver?

Aside from the urban attractions of Vancouver city, there are plenty of adventurous activities to take part in that really help you get to grips with the country and its beautiful natural landscape. Vancouver’s parks have numerous outdoor activities – from walking and biking to hiking the trails that surround the many glacial lakes of BC’s national parks.

Visit the treetop Capilano Suspension Bridge or the sprawling urban green area of Stanley Park. You can take in a more indie scene in Gastown, a quirky district known for its Steam Clock, as well as many charming souvenir shops and chic restaurants.

 

Where can you hike in Vancouver?

There are dozens of hikes you can enjoy in Vancouver. Some of the most popular include the Panorama Ridge hike, which offers unrivalled views of Garibaldi Lake within Garibaldi Provincial Park. The mountain peak known as Black Tusk – so named because of its dark colouring and toothy shape – is another place to hike to. Although this journey is a long one, it offers the opportunity to camp overnight, giving you a real sense of wild Canada.

The Sea to Sky Highway trail which starts at Tunnel Bluff offers incredible views over Howe Sound, an amazing reward after a challenging hike. Another option is the hike to Mount Cheam, a fairytale-like panorama with 360 degree views of the surrounding region including Fraser River and the Cascade Mountains.

Man hiking in BC

Where can I see wildlife in BC?

Luckily, British Columbia is a great place to spot many of Canada’s native animals. Bears, whales, deer, and cougars can all be seen in BC and there are many places from which to spot them.

If you are looking to have a whale watching experience, you can join a boat from Vancouver Island. Here, you have the chance to spot all manner of whales, from humpbacks to orca and grey whales. Bears can also be found aroundKnight Inlet, in the Great Bear Rainforest and off Vancouver Island.

If you are based in Vancouver, you can see lots of wildlife in Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake which are both just a little way from the city’s downtown.

Where can I see grizzly bears in BC?

British Columbia is one of the best areas to spot bears. The Great Bear Rainforest sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Range on the west coast of BC. You will be able to see grizzlies here, as well as the elusive Kermode bear (also known as the Spirit Bear), which is a rare subspecies of black bear.

Knight Inlet is another place that grizzlies call home due to the large number of salmon in Glendale River. During the later autumn season, you can see them feeding from a specially constructed platform. Also, because there are so many bears here, you are almost guaranteed to see one.

 

Where can you see whales in BC?

Vancouver Island is the spot where many visitors start their whale watching excursions. It’s just a short ferry ride from the city but feels remote enough to give you the true feeling of the Canadian wilderness. Johnstone Strait is a world-famous spot to see orca and humpback whales. If you decide to visit Vancouver Island, you should definitely visit Pacific Rim National Park with its lush forests and gorgeous beaches. 

Bear in a river

Where can I see bears on Vancouver Island?

Grizzly bears in BC tend to stick to the coast on Vancouver Island. You can also see black bears in Tofino, Telegraph Cove, Campbell River, and Port McNeill, among other locations on the island.

What can you do on Vancouver Island?

From sea-kayaking around the islets of Tofino to marine wildlife safaris and hiking through ancient forests of towering fir trees, Vancouver Island offers adventure in abundance.

There are a bunch of lovely spots to go walking, each with something a bit different. Enjoy the thundering waters of Englishman River Falls or hike to the top of Mount Benson. You could also choose to take a post-walk dip Westwood Lake.

You should also definitely visit Victoria, Vancouver Island’s capital, during your journey. It has a stunning historical town centre which is full of lovely period architecture. Fisherman’s Wharf is a great choice for a bit of quirk, with picturesque waterfront buildings and the odd seal enjoying a dip in the waters. Don’t forget to check out the Parliament buildings, with their eye-catching domed roofs, for an impressive and grand vista and Butchart Gardens for a horticultural interlude. There are restaurants, bars, and local historical spots to check out and you’ll be sure to discover Vancouver Island’s rich cultural heritage in Victoria.

 

Ready to discover all British Columbia has to offer? Learn more on the British Columbia holidays page, or call 01737 214 250.