The Ooooooh’s and Aaaaaaah’s of Vancouver Island and North-Western BC

Killer Whale

Are you thinking of things to do in Vancouver all the while socially distancing from others? These are the top 6 socially distancing picks that you can experience in Vancouver this winter. 

The Ooooooh’s and Aaaaaaah’s of Vancouver Island and North-Western BC

Vancouver Island – It’s big. It’s diverse

After sailing to Vancouver Island from Vancouver, don’t think you’ll be stuck on an island with nothing to see or do. It may be an Island but you’ll be hard-pressed to notice. Vancouver Island is one of the world’s largest islands and because of its sheer size, it offers some of the most diverse array of sights and experiences you can find anywhere in Canada – or the world! From shopping and eating in Victoria at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, to hiking the old-growth forests of Cathedral Grove in central Vancouver Island, to cultural experiences in Aboriginal villages in the north, you’ll never want to leave!

Photo credit: Destination BC

Northern Vancouver Island & the Inside Passage

Inside Passage

One of northern Vancouver Island’s prettiest waterfront towns, Telegraph Cove will be sure to charm you. Be sure to have your camera ready when you arrive at this historic town. A unique experience is to visit the older, historic buildings that were built on stilts above the water and joined together by boardwalks.

Next, for an insightful, cultural experience, there is no better option than visiting Alert Bay. The community of Alert Bay is located on Cormorant Island – an easy ferry ride from Port McNeil. Here you’ll find the U’mista Cultural Centre, famous for its Aboriginal masks and artefacts. Be sure to explore this small island and see some of the world’s most impressive Totem Poles – including the tallest! – it is an experience you’ll not soon forget.

Earlier we said you’re not going to ever want to leave Vancouver Island, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and the best way to end your Vancouver Island experience is sailing the Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert on the west coast of BC. The Canadian part of this famous waterway is what we love the most. There is no road along the west coast of BC so the only way to see it is by boat. And what a way to see it! Marvel at spectacular, snow-capped mountains as they rise almost straight out of the narrow waterways just a few hundred feet from your boat – you can almost reach out and touch them! You’ll be plying these waters with BC Ferries, which offers almost cruise-like amenities onboard, such as super comfy lounge seats, multiple restaurants and even cabins for those who want a private space to unwind. While the ship may feel like a cruise, its much smaller than those massive cruise ships– and much more personal in scale. Tip: Be sure to say hello to the crew, they are a great resource and are happy to alert you to wildlife sightings and impart local history along the route.

Photo credit: BC Ferries

Prince Rupert to Smithers

A big, little town is a great way to describe Prince Rupert. It is a charming, laid back town, with wonderfully diverse attractions. With world-class wildlife viewing opportunities (whale-watching, grizzly bear tours and so many bald eagles that it is recognized as the Bald Eagle capital of the world) nature-lovers will be kept busy for days. Prince Rupert also features the Museum of Northern BC, where you’ll find wonderful exhibits of local Aboriginal history dating back many thousands of years! While you may be sad to leave Prince Rupert, fear not, as a wonderful, scenic drive along highway 16 awaits you as you head to Smithers. Highway 16 offers amazingly diverse scenery as it follows the Skeena River and heads through the Coast mountains. Highlights as you drive along include watching fisherman catch salmon on the Skeena River and seeing the spectacular Seven Sisters mountains.

As you arrive into Smithers, you’ll soon learn why it is known as little Switzerland. One of the more charming towns you’ll visit on your travels in Northern BC, Smithers is surrounded by numerous mountain ranges and is full of immigrants from the tiny mountainous country. You’ll even find Swiss-style alpine buildings in the downtown core. Smithers offers exciting outdoor activities, from fishing and mountain biking to skiing and snowmobiling, this is the town for the truly adventurous!

Photo credit: Doug Neasloss

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