Metro Vancouver’s two most popular paddling destinations could hardly be more different. The placid waters of False Creek enjoy the urban backdrop of Yaletown’s glass towers and the bustling shoreline of Granville Island, while the North Shore’s nature-hugging Deep Cove area is the launch point for Indian Arm, a tree-lined, finger shaped fjord that bends northwards for 30 kilometres (19 miles) into the heart of the mountains. Connect with local kayak rental and tour operators including Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre (www.ecomarine.com) and Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre (www.deepcovekayak.com) for the low-down on each paddle-perfect spot.
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Consider an urban kayaking story covering a paddle around busy False Creek. Your story could include stops at Vanier Park, Yaletown, Science World and the new Olympic Village neighbourhood. You could end your voyage at Granville Island – an ideal spot for lunch – overlooking the art deco arch of the Burrard Street Bridge. Ecomarine Ocean Kayak (www.ecomarine.com) has a rental office on the island. Shoot some video while you’re on the water to give your readers a real taste of the area.
Metro Vancouver offers a cornucopia of idyllic hiking opportunities. Popular multi-trail trekking spots include Stanley Park and UBC’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park, as well as the North Shore’s Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, complete with 50 kilometres (31 miles) of paved and gravel logging trails that also attract cyclists and inline skaters. The region’s most popular hiking route is the Grouse Grind (www.grousemountain.com), a steep 2.9-kilometre (1.8 mile) uphill trek through the forest. It can take up to two hours, but you can relax with a gondola ride back down for $10.
Not all of the trails carved through the region’s rainforest are designed for hikers. Meandering mountain biking tracks have been cut on the backside of ski areas at Grouse Mountain (www.grousemountain.com) and Cypress Mountain (www.cypressmountain.com) and through the heavily forested woods of Pacific Spirit Park and the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. In fact, the North Shore is home to one of Canada’s most vibrant mountain bike communities, with trails and clubs across the area.
The 8.8-kilometre (5.5-mile) Stanley Park seawall is studded with trundling rollerbladers throughout the summer months – its flat, paved path circles the entire park and offers spectacular mountain, waterfront and forest vistas with plenty of spots to stop and take a breather. More adventurous rollerbladers are often drawn to North Vancouver's Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, where the towering trees provide a spectacular backdrop for a nature-bound spin. In-line skates (as well as bikes) can be rented at operators including Bayshore Rentals (www.bayshorebikerentals.ca).
The Vancouver Park Board (www.vancouverparks.ca) operates nine indoor pools and seven outdoor pools, as well as employing lifeguards throughout the summer months on the city’s main beaches. In the West End, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre features an indoor, Olympic-size pool, weight room, sauna and whirlpool. In the summer, Kitsilano Pool, off Cornwall Avenue, and the Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park offer the joys of swimming outdoors in pools that are popular with families.
Among Vancouver’s best summertime haunts, Kitsilano Beach is the most popular spot for catching the rays. It attracts families, locals and visitors with its wide sandy expanse and large saltwater swimming pool. English Bay beach, at the intersection of Denman and Davie Streets is a busy stretch for sunbathers, volleyball players and resting rollerbladers. For the city’s best sunset, head to Stanley Park’s Third Beach, where you can pull-up a log and watch the sky turn through its end-of-day pyrotechnics.
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Consider a summertime story on Vancouver’s beaches for visitors, assessing swimming and family-friendly qualities as well as natural surroundings and additional facilities like the swimming pool at Kits Beach. You could also suggest dining options near each beach and include comments from locals on their favourite sandy spots for adults, families, sunsets and picnics. Cover popular spots like Kitsilano Beach and English Bay beach as well less-crowded areas like Spanish Banks. Spice things up by including Wreck Beach, the city’s only naturist option.
Vancouver’s beauty also extends below the ocean’s surface. With some of the region’s best cold water diving between Vancouver Island and the mainland, you can expect to spot marine species like wolf eels and large Pacific octopus, as well as a brilliant red coral found few other places in the world. Cates Park in Deep Cove and Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay are popular diving sites.
It’s no surprise that salmon fishing is a big attraction for visiting anglers. Using the latest electronic fish finding equipment to give guests the best chance of a catch, Bites-On Salmon Charters (www.bites-on.com) offers fully-guided fishing adventures departing from downtown and heading out to English Bay, Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia. In the spring, the company also offers a spectacular nine-hour charter through the Gulf Islands to fish for Chinook salmon. Other charter companies operating in the region include Sewell’s Marina (www.sewellsmarina.com) and STS Guiding Service (www.fishingvancouver.com).
With its spectacular waterfront location, boating around the Vancouver region is a highly popular With its spectacular waterfront location, boating around the Vancouver region is a highly popular activity for visitors. Whether it’s a sunset dinner cruise around the Stanley Park coastline, a narrated harbour cruise around the busy waterfront, a mini-tour on a tiny ferry around False Creek or a fishing or sightseeing trek aboard a charter, the city is a marine-lovers paradise. Operators include Harbour Cruises (www.boatcruises.com), and Accent Cruises (www.accentcruises.ca), while local mini-ferries are run by Aquabus Ferries (www.theaquabus.com) and False Creek Ferries (www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca).
Windsurfing, Kiteboarding & Paddleboarding
Vancouver is popular among the windsurfing fraternity and it’s also a great spot to try this activity for the first time. Jericho Beach is a hotspot for those renting equipment and taking beginner lessons. For those who want the challenge of high-wind sailing, Squamish – an hour’s drive north of the city – offers some of Canada's best windsurfing conditions. In summer, strong thermal winds blow down the valley and create ideal windsurfing and kiteboarding conditions. The Squamish Windsports Society (www.squamishwindsports.com) manages the site and charges a daily user's fee. Adventurous visitors can also rent and take lessons in kiteboarding and paddleboarding.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
One of the best ways to take in the spectacular natural surroundings of Stanley Park is to hop on a gently paced horse-drawn carriage ride around its wide, tree-lined roads. Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours (www.stanleypark.com) offers one-hour narrated carriage tours through the park for nature-loving visitors throughout the summer.
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Consider a story on the area’s winter resorts for summertime visitors. Grouse Mountain (www.grousemountain.com) and Cypress Mountain (www.cypressmountain.com) are each renowned for their winter activities, but they are also great spots for summer visitors. Your story could offer a first-hand review of summer activities, ranging from alpine hikes and mountain biking to wildlife watching and lumber jack shows.
Ringed by mountains, Vancouver is an ideal destination for rock climbers who don’t want to stray too far from the city. Local mountains offer dozens of options for climbers of all levels, while a one-hour drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway brings you one of Western Canada’s most popular climbing destinations. The Squamish Chief is an experienced rock climber's dream with boundless routes to scale on its beautiful granite face. For those less experienced, group and private lessons, indoor climbing walls and guided climbing tours are available around the region.