British Columbia is a Traveller’s Paradise Just Waiting to be Explored
Now is the time to explore Canada, a country rich in history, resources and beauty. It always was a good idea, but now due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more so! With many borders still closed to other countries, we can spend the next while discovering the incredible beauty in our own backyards.
This is the first blog in our TierOne Travel ‘Explore Canada’ series, which will provide a glimpse into some of the most incredible cities and regions to explore from coast to coast. Our expert travel agents can put together awesome itineraries to suit your interests, timelines and budgets. We also work with some of the best tour operators in Canada so we can book the most wonderful tour packages for you.
Best Places to Explore in B.C.
British Columbia is a vast and varied province that you could spend months exploring and still have so much left undiscovered. Located on the west coast, it stretches nearly a million sq km (386 miles) between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. Its largest cities are Vancouver and Victoria (the capital) where the majority of its 5 million people live. From either city you could take day trips to explore surrounding regions and still enjoy all the cities have to offer. Travelling within B.C. can be done via bus or other road vehicles, aircraft, ferry boats, and trains.
Discover Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is the largest island in Canada (460 km long and 100 km wide) and runs along the Pacific Ocean. It is absolutely gorgeous and boasts the warmest climate in Canada.
A road trip between Nanaimo and Victoria is definitely a trip you will want to add to your wish list for BC. It will take you through jaw-dropping scenery and lovely towns and villages where you can enjoy some of the best food and beverages along the way.
Nanaimo is known as the Harbour City and it is home to the legendary Nanaimo Bar dessert. Don’t go home without trying some! While there, you can head out on a whale watching tour. From April through October, you have an excellent chance of spotting killer whales (Orcas), humpback whales, sea lions, porpoises, seals, eagles and more. And if you love the sea, you can catch your own seafood on one of the many fishing and crabbing charters.
The protected waters of the Nanaimo region’s lakes and harbours are full of secret coves and inlets to explore by kayak, canoe or paddle board. This is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife or catch the perfect coastal sunset.
Indulge in Nanaimo Bars and Craft Beer
Nanaimo, like most of Vancouver Island, is known for its craft beverages and culinary delights. Knowledgeable local guides can take you on an estate winery tour and treat your palate to some of the best food in Canada. You can also explore the Old City Quarter of downtown Nanaimo, which is filled with specialty shops, boutiques and restaurants.
Travelling south along the eastern coast of the island toward Victoria, there are so many great places to explore. You must stop at the Merridale Cidery & Distillery near Cobble Hill in the heart of Cowichan Valley and try their chicken pot pie and explore their orchard. And you would be remiss if you didn’t visit the Blue Grouse Estate Winery in Duncan, where you could have a picnic. They will pack you a basket filled with locally made cheese and charcuterie boards and Blue Grouse wines.
What to See and Do in Victoria
When you arrive in beautiful Victoria, you will want to stay a while. The eclectic city has so much to offer. There’s a fun, walkable downtown pub scene where you’ll discover that Victoria actually has the honour of being the Craft Beer Hub of Canada. Downtown also has lovely little shops, delicious seafood restaurants, hidden alleys to explore and a great Chinatown.
When in Victoria, you must check out the breathtaking Butchart Gardens, where you can even have high tea. Other enjoyable places for high tea are the Empress Fairmont Hotel or the Moroccan Abkhazi Teahouse and Garden.
Explore Vancouver Coast and Mountains
The city of Vancouver, or Metro Vancouver as it is also called, is a destination on its own with endless opportunities to explore. You’ll want to stay a few days in the city and explore all it has to offer.
While some tourist spots might still remain closed to the public, many are welcoming people back. Most shopping malls are open along with specialty stores along Robson Street. The Granville Island Market is also open and so is Stanley Park. You can enjoy walking along the seawall and biking through the expansive park, but the parking lots are temporarily closed to vehicles.
Explore Sunny Thompson Okanagan
Located in the interior of B.C., the Thompson-Okanagan region is a popular tourist destination with a sunny climate, beautiful landscapes and relaxed lifestyle. There is so much to explore in this region. From Thompson Country with its trout fishing, mountain biking and ranch vacations to the Okanagan Valley with its outdoor adventures, wine touring and lakeside relaxation, you won’t be disappointed.
Stay in Kelowna and take day trips from there. Have fun tasting British Columbia’s award-winning vintages as you embark on winery tours. Swim and boat on Lake Okanagan. Go houseboating on the Shuswap or rent a cabin on the lakeshore. Explore local colourful and delectable orchards. Cycle through tunnels and over trestles alongside a steep canyon rock face. This region of B.C. is so diverse and exceptionally beautiful, you won’t want to leave.
Explore the Adventurous Kootenay Rockies
The Kootenay Rockies region encompasses four mountain ranges – the Rockies, Purcells, Selkirks and Monashees. Within these regions there are four national parks and 75 provincial parks. In addition to mountains, the region features lakes, ancient fossil fields, old-growth rainforests and alpine meadows.
Many of the parks have disclaimers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so be sure to check with your TierOne Travel agent ahead of time to help you plan a trip to the Kootenays. On June 1, 2020, British Columbia’s national parks and historic sites began providing limited access to visitors and as time goes on, more access will be granted.
The Kootenay Rockies area is also home to world-class hot springs in cities such as Revelstoke and Fairmont. A dip in the Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park is something you will remember forever. Open year-round, the hot spring is renowned for its rejuvenating mineral waters and dramatic setting in Sinclair Canyon. Our travel agents will know if and when it will be open to visitors.
Now is the Time to Explore Canada
Canadians are so fortunate to live is a country where people come from all around the world to explore its beauty. Now is the time to discover it for ourselves. You will be glad you did! The next blog in our ‘Explore Canada’ series will highlight the amazing province of Alberta.
Get Peace of Mind with Travel Insurance
Before you travel, be sure you have enough coverage. Travel insurance will provide you with peace of mind on your vacation. Find out more about Manulife travel insurance here.
When you’re ready to explore Canada and make your travel dreams come true, contact one of our TierOne Travel agents today! They have extensive experience in life-changing travel and will be able to craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs. One call; endless experiences!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous