10 places to go in B.C. for your summer vacation

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      Every spring they come: those blissful days of sunshine that prompt you to fling off your jacket and add a few more T-shirts to the wardrobe rotation. See those flip-flops at the back of the closet? If you haven’t hauled them out yet, you’ll be wearing them before you know it. Slip them on, close your eyes, and imagine the sand beneath your feet.

      Then give your toes a wiggle, put your socks back on, and start making some plans. Here are 10 ideas for where to go around B.C. during the province’s most glorious season.

      Catch some wind on the water in Victoria

      The annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race happens from May 23 to 25 in Victoria, attracting about 200 crews from around the world to this long-distance sailing event. Spectators can catch wind of the action from Clover Point as racers set sail on May 23. For those who want to get out on the water themselves, numerous operators run whale-watching tours out of Victoria in vessels that vary from Zodiacs to catamarans to yachts; southern resident killer whales are often spotted from April through November. Or hop on a compact Victoria Harbour Ferry for a spin around the waters that lap the city; you can ride just one leg of the route or catch a complete guided tour. See the Tourism Victoria website for a rundown of water-based pleasures.

      Dive into Osoyoos Lake

      With an average summer high temperature of 31 ° C, Osoyoos is the perfect place to go jump in a lake. Water sports abound at the relatively warm Osoyoos Lake, where you can cool down without freezing your butt off. Wakepilot offers lessons for both kids and adults in wakeboarding, which is kind of like a combination of waterskiing and snowboarding. Or, for a more contemplative experience, 3 Phase Adventures offers standup paddleboarding, including sunset guided tours, SUP yoga, and even SUP & Sip outings in conjunction with the LaStella winery.

      Get cheesy on Salt Spring Island

      Awesome British Columbia getaways include visiting Salt Spring Island Cheese Company’s farm for picnic supplies.

      You can see where those lovely, flower-topped rounds of chèvre are made by visiting Salt Spring Island Cheese Company’s farm, a few kilometres from Fulford Harbour. The charming forested spot offers a window onto the production process with self-guided tours and a shop with all of the company’s products available for tasting. (The garlic-marinated Ruckles goat-cheese logs are utterly addictive.) If it’s a Saturday, follow up with a visit to the farmers market website on the water at Centennial Park in Ganges to pick up some bread, pastries, and locally made kombucha. Bring it all to nearby Mistaken Identity Vineyards, where you can taste the wines and picnic with a view of the vines.

      Heli-fish in Pemberton

      Like heli-skiing, heli-fishing involves a helicopter ride to a pristine place for some very special recreation. From June through October, Pemberton Fish Finder offers tours out of Pemberton or Whis­tler to glacier-fed alpine lakes where you can fish for virgin rainbow trout—fish that have never seen a hook because of the remoteness of the lakes. The company also offers traditional land-based fishing trips for both half and full days. Catches vary as the season progresses and include bull trout and Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon.

      Get festive on the Sunshine Coast

      Hop a Horseshoe Bay–Langdale ferry and you’ll find a region that comes alive in summer. In June, the Pender Harbour Blues Festival (June 5 to 7) and Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival (June 19 to 21) unleash musical merriment on the lower Sunshine Coast. On the upper Sunshine Coast, the Lund Shellfish Festival (May 22 to 24) combines fresh oysters and other seafood with cruises through Desolation Sound, chowder socials, live music, and more. In late August, the annual Powell River Blackberry Festival fills the town’s main street with revellers throwing stain-caution to the wind and enjoying everything from wood-fired pizza topped with goat cheese, blackberries, and basil to blackberry shortcake. See Sunshine Coast Tourism and Tourism Powell River for details.

      Go on a wildlife quest on the Cariboo Chilcotin coast


      Wildlife-spotting near Spirit Bear Lodge in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
      Cael Cook

      The Great Bear Rainforest is the only place in the world where you can see Kermode (spirit) bears, and Klemtu, a remote village on B.C.’s Inside Passage, is a good base for starting the search. (August through October offers the best chance of spotting them.) Guided motorboat tours from Spirit Bear Lodge set out to find them, along with grizzlies, eagles, and other wildlife. The waterfront lodge is certified as “authentic aboriginal” by Aboriginal Tourism B.C.; see the Spirit Bear website for three- to seven-day package tours from Vancouver.

      Get dirty in Whistler

      Outdoor-fitness fans have a few more reasons to drive up to Whistler before snow season. The first Outerbike Whis­tler takes place June 4 to 7, bringing together bike and gear manufacturers at an expo where you can take various bikes for a ride. Registration includes guided rides, access to Whistler’s bike park (which opens on May 2 this year), parties, and more. Registration is also open for Mudderella, a female-oriented daylong fitness challenge on September 26 that involves an 8- to 11-kilometre muddy obstacle course. For a less messy, more mindful adventure, Wanderlust Whistler takes place July 30 to August 3 with yoga, meditation, and more.

      Pair wine with some golf in Kelowna

      There are 18 golf courses in Kelowna, along with 29 wineries: combine the two and you’ve got the makings of one leisurely holiday. Peruse the course options at Golf Kelowna, a central reservations system for info and tee-time bookings developed by Tourism Kelowna with local courses. Then pick an appropriate winery for “après” with help from Kelowna Wine Trails. Logical pairings include a round at the Okanagan Golf Club followed by a liquid round at nearby Ancient Hill Estate Winery, or putting at the Harvest Golf Club followed by tastings at the View Winery and Vineyard down the hill.

      Scramble up an iron trail in the Kootenays


      Climbing the new Via Ferrata route at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

      There’s a new outdoor activity in southeastern B.C. that’s slated to launch on July 1 at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Italian for “iron path”, the Via Ferrata is a secured climbing route on the north face of Terminator Peak that involves steel steps, handles, ladder rungs, and cables to help climbers traverse steep terrain. Each person is harnessed to the rock via a steel cable, and a guide leads each group through challenges like a suspension bridge. There’s a two-hour course for beginners and a more challenging four-hour course for the experienced.

      Listen to the music of the waves in Tofino

      Year-round, one of the best things to do on the west coast of Vancouver Island is to relax and listen to the sound of the waves crashing onshore. Add some sunshine, sandcastle-building, barbecuing, long walks on the beach, and watching late sunsets, and that’s all you really need for a great vacation. But if you want more, time your visit to coincide with one of the area’s festivals. For example, the Tofino Food and Wine Festival runs from June 5 to 7, with an afternoon of grazing on June 6 in Tofino Botanical Gardens. On August 21 and 22, the Otalith Music Festival—billed as “the littlest music festival on the edge of the world”—takes place in Tofino and Ucluelet, with festival camping in the latter. See Tourism Tofino website for more happenings.




      Apr 24, 2015 at 11:50am

      The new Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Resort (which I think is in southeastern, not northeastern BC) looks intriguing. We're planning a trip to BC this summer and that would be worth a stop. Thanks for the idea.

      Carolyn Ali

      Apr 24, 2015 at 3:43pm

      @Rob1 Thanks for pointing that out: Kicking Horse is southeastern BC (I've corrected the text.) It's near Nelson, about 2.5 hrs drive from Calgary, or 9 hrs from Vancouver, according to the resort's website

      Elliott Kerr

      Jun 28, 2015 at 9:16pm

      Thanks again Carolyn, but Kicking Horse is near Golden, not Nelson.

      Carolyn Ali

      Jun 29, 2015 at 10:06am

      @Elliott Kerr
      Thanks for the correction; clearly I was geographically challenged on this one. Near Golden, not Nelson.