Ocean Deep, Moun­tain High

From whale watch­ing to alpine hik­ing, na­ture is never far away from this corner of Bri­tish Columbia

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Jenny Southan

Na­ture is never far away in Van­cou­ver

Canada’s west-coast city of Van­cou­ver is con­sis­tently rated highly in terms of qual­ity of life, so if you are in town on busi­ness, make sure you add a week­end to ex­plore.You can split your time be­tween down­town and the moun­tains (for ski­ing, Whistler is just 90 min­utes by car), or take a boat to Van­cou­ver Is­land for some whale-watch­ing.

The City

A wealthy sea­port city of green glass and lib­eral vibes, down­town Van­cou­ver is a grid of glit­ter­ing tow­ers sur­rounded by water on three sides. If you’re weary from jet lag, the breeze blow­ing over False Creek is re­viv­ing, as is a meal of the na­tional dish, pou­tine (French fries, cheese and gravy), good any time of the day or night.

Quirky Granville Is­land is a short hop via Aquabus across the water from down­town – here you will find Ed­i­ble Canada, which has a bistro with an out­door ter­race and a shop selling lo­cal pro­duce. Once an in­dus­trial site, Granville’s cor­ru­gat­edtin fac­to­ries and ware­houses have been reap­pro­pri­ated for farmers’mar­kets, bou­tiques, gal­leries and craft shops, as well as Mol­son’s Brew­ery and the Lib­erty Dis­tillery, which opened in 2013 – pop in for a snifter of En­deav­our gin.

If you’re short on time, the best way to get a sense of the city’s geog­ra­phy is to zoom out of the in­ner har­bor on a high­speed in­flat­able Zo­diac boat. Tours with Sea Van­cou­ver (C$42/$32) take you around the shores of Stan­ley Park at the tip of the penin­sula (here you can rent a bike, see totem poles and lounge on sandy beaches), and un­der Lions Gate sus­pen­sion bridge, which crosses the Bur­rard In­let.

The Moun­tains

Ris­ing for an early break­fast at the Opus ho­tel (van­cou­ver.opushotel.com), take the Sea to Sky High­way to Squamish, less than an hour’s drive away. The dra­matic moun­tain road looks down on Howe Sound, where ship­wrecks lie at the bot­tom, wait­ing for cu­ri­ous scuba divers. Shannon Falls, just over a mile from your des­ti­na­tion, is a good stop, but it is at a higher al­ti­tude that the ad­ven­ture be­gins.

The Sea to Sky Gon­dola (C$37.95/ $29) opened in 2014 and de­liv­ers you via cable car 2,900 feet up to Sum­mit Lodge, pre­vi­ously a half-day’s hike, in a mat­ter of min­utes. A prime start­ing point for the alpine trails that weave through coastal for­est, it’s also a stun­ning spot to get lunch while en­joy­ing views of Howe Sound and the gran­ite face of the Stawa­mus Chief, which is pop­u­lar with dare­devil climbers who paraglide off it. When ven­tur­ing into back­coun­try, watch out for bears, cougars and wolves.

The Is­land

If you choose to head to Van­cou­ver Is­land, take a boat from out­side the Westin Bayshore ho­tel and put on the ca­naryyel­low wa­ter­proofs given by tour com­pany Prince of Whales, whose of­fice is in the lobby. (Visit prince­ofwhales.com; tours May-Oct, C$150/$115.)

Above from left: Shannon

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