Adventure Travel in Vancouver - by Land & Sea
Vancouver is one of the world’s top destinations for outdoor adventure. At the foot of the mountains and with the Pacific Ocean literally lapping at its edges, Vancouver can offer visitors their pick of just about any type of adventure by land or sea. You don’t even need to bring your or gear or maps as there are numerous local outfitters in Vancouver that offer rental and guided services for virtually every option imaginable.
Vancouver is also home to the famous North Shore, where freestyle mountain biking was practically born. This is like the Holy Land for mountain bikers. With Mount Fromme, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour as major anchors, North Shore riding makes singletrack look like kindergarten. Imagine the most difficult, technical terrain you can find: fallen logs, boulders, huge ravines, all combined with man-made obstacles on fast-riding trails, most of which are well-maintained by Vancouver's active mountain biking community.
On The Water
With thousands of inlets and coves, Vancouver is the ultimate location for sea kayaking, whether beginner or expert. Popular destinations include False Creek and Indian Arm, a glacial fjord carved into a magnificent stretch of mountain that is 18 kilometres (11 miles) long. You can spend an hour on the water, a half day or even a week exploring the region if you are so inclined. Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Centre, Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres, Lotus Land Tours and other operators offer rentals and exciting tours.
Both one-day and multi-day fishing trips allow visitors to experience the breathtaking beauty of Vancouver’s rivers and inlets. Whatever style of fishing you’d like to try -- fly, spin, bait; or what you’d like to catch -- salmon, trout, halibut, or cod; there’s something for every angler. While there are plentiful options within the metro Vancouver area, British Columbia is also known for its backcountry fishing experiences. With 20,000 kilometres (12,500 miles) of coastline, 25,000-plus lakes, and countless rivers and streams, there are virtually endless saltwater and freshwater fishing opportunities. Some are so pristine, you’ll need a floatplane just to get there. Search our directory for more info on fishing trips.
The waterways surrounding Vancouver are a fantastic place to go whale and wildlife watching. Depending on the adventure you chose, expect to see everything from migrating Orca, humpback and grey whales, to frolicking dolphins, sea lions, seals and other wildlife. Tour boats range from covered or uncovered high-speed zodiacs to larger-scale ships. The season generally runs from April to October. Some operators, such as Wild Whales Vancouver, leave from Granville Island while others leave downtown or from ports just outside Vancouver.
If you don’t mind the cold water, Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver has protected waters for great scuba diving. There are several options for lessons and gear rental, so beginners and experts alike can explore, checking out sea cucumbers, harbour seals and sometimes even an octopus or two.
With the Coast Mountains right outside its door, Vancouver’s ancient, awe-inspiring rainforests, sparkling rivers and countless trails provide a natural playground for camping, hiking, biking and eco- touring.
Great hiking areas include the Sea to Sky Corridor—the region stretching from Vancouver to Pemberton, just north of Whistler. Check out one of the area’s most popular hikes, The Stawamus Chief, which is a 600-metre-high (2,000 feet) burning climb that offers brilliant vistas and plenty of spots at the top to soak in the sun and have a picnic. There are myriad other lesser-known day-hike options close to the city that will be less crowded, too. Or try the Grouse Grind on Vancouver’s North Shore. Rocketing straight up to the top of the mountain, it’s known to locals are “Mother Nature’s StairMaster.”
Vancouver’s North Shore is also considered by many to be the birthplace of freestyle mountain biking. While there are more than a few serious singletrack options that can scare even the most seasoned mountain bikers, the North Shore has numerous intermediate and beginner options, too.
For adrenaline junkies, Whistler Bungee at the Bungy Zone send people off a 50 metre (160 feet) bridge spanning forest and a glacial-fed river in a spectacular mountain setting. And Ziptrek Ecotours and Grouse Mountain’s ziplines allow fresh-air enthusiasts to soar high above the forest floor on tree-to-tree zip-line courses through old-growth forests.
Less adventurous visitors can explore some of the magnificent sites in Whistler, Victoria, Harrison Hot Springs and beyond with operators such as Landsea Tours, who are go-to experts for exploring the mountains, valleys, waterfalls, vineyards, gardens and richly varying landscape of the region.