Vancouver Island, Canada

Barney’s Canadian Family Adventure

For this year’s family adventure holiday we went to Canada’s Beautiful British Columbia. We decided the children, now ages 14, 10 and 8, were ready to tackle the nine hour flight direct from Manchester to Vancouver.

Vancouver is a fantastic family friendly city. We had a picnic in the beautiful Stanley Park, which is in Downtown Vancouver, walked the Pacific Sea Wall and looked at the First Nation Totem Poles. The waterfront at Canada Place has fantastic views where we watched the sea planes take off and land. Downtown transport was convenient and easy to use to see China Town, Gastown and we hopped on the Aqua Bus to see Granville Island. The public Market is a hub of activity with artisan crafts and food. I can highly recommend the gelato!

We then headed an hour north to Squamish. On our last visit over 20 years ago, it was a small logging town, now Canada’s centre of outdoor activities and sports. A giant granite monolith, The Squamish Chief, stands just on the edge of town. Here there is hiking for all abilities, including 8 year olds, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and kite surfing on the Howe Sound. They have a fabulous Ale Trail too, so I’m told!

The journey to Vancouver Island takes an hour and a half from North Vancouver to Nanaimo. As we left the mainland, the ferry had superb views of the Downtown skyline. We headed for the Pacific Coastal towns and beaches. First though we headed for Victoria. This beautiful laid back city really does feel like you’ve reached “island time”. The inner harbour area with the majestic Parliament Building and gardens and sea front places to eat is the best place to start. China Town here is the 2nd oldest in North America.

We had pre-booked an Orca Whale watching trip. We chose a zodiac boat which only seats 12 people and is much more fun than the larger boats. Nothing will ever compare to a 30 foot killer whale slowly gliding past our stationary boat with her calf.  We then made our way up the west coast of Vancouver Island which is a mix of quaint towns like Ucluelet, “Ukee” to the locals, where we had a sea kayak trip, walked the Wild Pacific Trail and explored the beaches and surf. Tofino is full of local craft shops and First Nation galleries, and the Pacific Rim National Park where we visited the spectacular rain forests and walked the boardwalk style trails.

I would highly recommend this part of Canada for an active outdoor family adventure!

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