While Vancouver has a wealth of sights to keep tourists and residents interested, one of the best things about this city is its proximity to the wilderness. It’s the ideal jumping-off point for day trips into British Columbia, whether you want to head up to the mountains, sail around the fjords or island-hop til your heart’s content. Here are three of the best day trips from Vancouver… all with a welcome dose of luxury.
Pamper Yourself in Whistler’s Best Spa
Whistler is easily the most popular day trip destination from Vancouver, and it’s not hard to see why. Just a 90-minute drive from the city, along a road that winds through ice-blue fjords, towering waterfalls and sheer cliff faces, this alpine town is known as the top ski resort in North America. In the summer months it’s no less spectacular, and with miles of hiking trails, golf courses, ziplines, beautiful biking paths and pristines lakes to swim in, there’s something for everyone here. But if you’re looking for luxury, head to Scandinave Spa, an outdoor Nordic-style spa that enjoys one of the most jaw-dropping settings in the world.
Sprawled across 25,000 square feet of land and surrounded by spruce and cedar forests, Scandinave Spa is ideal for those who want to enjoy some luxurious pampering while breathing the fresh mountain air. Standard spa access allows you to enter the eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna, sun deck, relaxation room and Nordic waterfall, as well as numerous hot and cold baths. For an extra dose of indulgence you can opt for a treatment, such as the Restorative Massage or Deep Tissue Massage. For the perfect day out, begin with a hike around Lost Lake, then soothe those aching muscles in steaming pools while admiring the dramatic vistas of British Columbia.
Charter a Yacht and Explore Howe Sound
Located between the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound is North America’s southernmost fjord. Circled by steep peaks that soar from the ocean, Howe Sound is one of the best places near Vancouver to sail and dive, and a boat is the best way to explore this cluster of islands. You can rent a boat yourself from Horseshoe Bay, or you can hop aboard for a ‘sea safari’ with Sewell’s Marina, where you’ll discover secluded coves only accessible from water and spot seals basking lazily on Pam Rocks in the heart of Howe Sound.
But for that extra dose of luxury, we suggest exploring these breathtaking, glacier-carved fjords from the comfort of a luxury yacht. Infinity Yachts is the most popular choice for a crewed charter, and your skipper will be able to point out the wealth of wildlife that make their home in these clear blue waters; keep an eye out for dolphins, orcas, humpback whales and grey whales, as well as seals and seabirds. With 21 rugged islands to explore, as well as the towering cliffs of Anvil Island and the mysterious caves of Bowen Island, bringing your camera is a must.
Take the Seaplane to Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is the most popular and accessible of the Southern Gulf Islands. You can take a leisurely ferry ride if you wish, but flying via seaplane allows you to marvel at magnificent views of this archipelago as it unfolds beneath you. You’ll make a neat splash-landing into the island’s Ganges Harbour, where one of the country’s best outdoor markets awaits. Salt Spring Market runs every Saturday from April to October, and with more than 100 stalls selling everything from paintings to jewellery to sweet-smelling pastries, it’s the perfect place to fuel up. Grab a coffee from local favourite TJ Beans and get ready for the day ahead!
To discover the secrets of Salt Springs, why not consider a private tour? Tour Salt Springs allow you to put together your own itinerary, whether you want to taste your way around the island and sample its famous cheeses and wines, or get active and take a kayak out. Alternatively you can explore independently, hiking up the steep, craggy bluffs and wandering through dense forests. Finish off your day with a delicious meal at the island’s best restaurant, the upscale House Piccolo, before jumping on a seaplane back to Vancouver.
Explore Victoria and Vancouver Island
Located on Vancouver Island, the historic city of Victoria is a great place to visit during the summer months. While most tourists assume Vancouver is the capital of British Columbia, that honour in fact goes to Victoria, one of the oldest cities in the Northwest. There are many ways to get to Vancouver Island – most people travel via ferry – but for the ultimate indulgence, why not arrive in style via helicopter? Or, for something a little more low-key, seaplane services leave regularly from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria. Known as the Garden City, you should definitely make time for the famous Butchart Gardens, where you can wander through 55 acres of landscaped lawns and marvel at hundreds of dazzling blooms.
After you’ve got your fill of flowers, head into the bustling downtown hub of Victoria, where you can admire grand colonial architecture, visit excellent museums like the Royal BC Museum, and browse a variety of unique shops. Before you hop back on your chopper to the mainland, finish off with a sumptuous meal at Q Restaurant at the Empress. A haven for fine-dining fanatics, this stylish, four-diamond restaurant has won many awards for its wines; there are over 500 labels to choose from! Enjoy an intimate and indulgent candlelit dinner as you’re serenaded by live harp music – this is an unforgettably romantic way to end your day.
So, which of these luxury day trip ideas from Vancouver are you most excited about?