Karl Woll is a passionate outdoor enthusiast who shares his adventures on outdoorvancouver.ca, a blog about all things outdoors in the Vancouver area. Despite his countless interests, we got him to narrow his list down to these top 10 ways to get some fresh air and exercise in and around Vancouver.
It’s no secret that Vancouver offers some of the best outdoor experiences in the world. Whatever your ability level or appetite for adventure, Vancouver undoubtedly has something for you. For me, the best way to enjoy the city is to get off the beaten path and explore the outdoors.
1. Kayaking the Indian Arm.
A glacial fjord carved into a magnificent stretch of mountain, the Indian Arm is a first-rate sea kayaking experience. The stretch from Deep Cove to the northern tip of the Indian Arm provides 20 kilometres of calm ocean waters to be explored and access to multiple camp sites. Wildlife includes harbour seals, 79 bird species, and if you watch the shore, black-tailed deer and black bear.
Insider’s Tip: Deep Cove Kayak offers Cheap Date Night rentals Friday evenings during the summer.
2. Backcountry Camping.
There’s no better way to find solitude than throwing some gear into a backpack and setting off into the backcountry for a few days. Some of the most spectacular scenery around is nestled in the local mountains, away from vehicle access. Just make sure you’re properly prepared and experienced.
Insider’s Tip: By far my favorite campground is at Garibaldi Lake. The pristine, turquoise lake is a great place to relax, swim and fly fish, and there also are two outstanding hikes within reach: Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.
3. Car Camping.
Looking to get out with the kids? Maybe you’re just not into trekking with all that gear on your back. With no shortage of campgrounds within a short drive from Vancouver, car camping is a great way to get outdoors and spend a night under the stars. Alice Lake in Squamish is a great family oriented campground with facilities.
Insider’s Tip: Pick your campground and pre-book with discovercamping.ca
4. Scuba Diving at Whytecliff Park
Located in West Vancouver, Whytecliff Park has calm, protected waters for easy beach access. It offers dives for beginners and pros alike. You can see nudibranches, sea cucumbers, harbour seals, sea pens and, if you’re lucky, octopus.
Insider’s Tip: The water is going to be cold year-round, so you might as well go during the winter months when visibility is better (provided you have a dry suit).
5. Snowboarding in the North Shore
Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Games for a reason. A short drive to Whistler will give you a world-class experience, but don’t overlook the local resorts either. Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain each have something to offer, all reachable within 30 minutes from downtown.
Insider’s Tip: You don’t need to get up at 6am to get in a full day. All three local resorts offer nighttime riding under lights.
6. Snowshoeing the North Shore
With snow covering the upper elevations much of the year, a great way to extend hiking season (to a full 365 days) is to go by snowshoe. All three local resorts offer great trails, but Grouse is my favorite.
Insider’s Tip: If you’re looking to avoid spending money, Cypress and Seymour have some free public-access trails.
7. Hiking the Sea to Sky Corridor
With more than 100 kilometres of mountain range between West Vancouver and Whistler, you’ll never get bored of hiking here. There is great hiking throughout Metro Vancouver, but the Sea to Sky stretch offers my favorite day hikes. Each present different challenges and spectacular views.
Insider’s Tip: The Stawamus Chief is the most well-known hike on this stretch, which means it can also be busy.
8. Bungee Jumping
If you’re looking for that adrenaline rush, look no further than jumping off a bridge 160 feet in the air over a glacier-fed river. Whistler Bungee is the spot to do it.
Insider’s Tip: Periodically, they offer nighttime jumping under the moonlight.
9. Beach Volleyball at Jericho Beach
This is a great way to spend a sunny evening after working in the city. You just need a group of friends, a net and perhaps a barbecue.
Insider’s Tip: After you’re done playing, the Jericho Sailing Center on the beach has a patio — great for watching the sun set.
10. Stanley Park Seawall
Okay, this one is a bit cliché, but how could it be left out? Not all outdoor activities have to get your heart racing. I don’t know how many cities have such a large, beautiful park as the welcome mat to their downtown, but Stanley Park has to be one of the (if not the) best parks out there. A walk, jog, bike or rollerblade around the 10-kilometre seawall is a relaxing way to get outside and soak up a sunny Vancouver day.
Insider’s Tip: While the seawall follows the outer edges of the park, there are also kilometres of trails throughout the interior of the park, including beautiful ones around Lost Lagoon.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of outdoor activities you can enjoy around Vancouver, just my personal favourites. Maybe you’re into mountain biking, rock climbing, wind surfing, snowmobiling, ski-touring, paragliding…I think you get the point. Just get out there!
By Karl Woll, outdoorvancouver.ca