Summer in the City
Everything from jet skiing and food carts to ice cream and outdoor yoga
Long known as the Gateway to the Pacific, Vancouver is the place to play this summer for those eager to hit the water. And the ocean is just the beginning. Burgeoning with salmon and sturgeon, the Fraser River, British Columbia's longest river (at 1,375 km/855 mi), flows into the Strait of Georgia south of Vancouver. Other nearby rivers, creeks and lakes offer recreational opportunities for the whole family, from whooping it up at the famous Cultus Lake Waterpark waterslides to gazing awestruck at turquoise, glacier-fed Garibaldi Lake during a hike. Ready to make a splash? Multiple options are readily available here.
For pure adrenaline, it's tough to top jet skiing with Vancouver Water Adventures (page 80). The guided 2.5-hour Ocean Is Yours tour kicks off at Granville Island, heading out under the Burrard Street Bridge. In English Bay, pilot your Sea-Doo GTI 130 past tankers and freighters, and admire the downtown skyline. Out on the pristine expanse of Howe Sound, you can hit speeds of up to 90 km (55 mi) an hour.
The tour loops past the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, Bowen Island and a colony of harbour seals, among other highlights. A wetsuit, lifejacket, licence, fuel and full safety briefing are provided.
Vancouver Water Adventures also offers boat tours where guests can sit back and check out the glorious scenery aboard rigid-hull, 12-passenger vessels. Choices include the City and Seal tour, Granite Falls tour or Bowen Island Dinner and Sights tour.
Kayaking with Ecomarine Paddlesport Centres (page 79) is another inspiring adventure, departing from Granville Island. During a serene paddle in False Creek, the company's guides give you the goods on birds, floating homes and city landmarks such as Science World and BC Place Stadium. It's a great cardio workout that also engages your back, shoulders and arms. Kids between eight and 16 can join a tour with an adult in a double kayak. Other tours leave from Jericho Beach and English Bay. Remember to pack sunscreen, shades, a snack and a hat.
Alternatively, head to the Deep Cove Kayak Centre (page 79) in North Vancouver. On a three-hour Deep Cove Explorer tour, you'll thrill to the raw beauty of Indian Arm, nestled among the Coast Mountains, burgeoning with lush fir, spruce and pine trees. Spot colourful sea stars and bald eagles on your journey.
Want to catch the big one? Launching from Granville Island, Bon Chovy Charters (page 79) provides saltwater fishing trips with certified tidal angling guides. You can head out for five hours, 10 hours or overnight as you aim to reel in a magnificent chinook or coho salmon.
The company offers five Grady White fishing boats (7 to 9 m/22 to 30 ft) with Yamaha four-stroke outboard motors. Packages include first-class accommodations at the Granville Island Hotel. You can also book a Fraser River sturgeon fishing trip, which departs from the boat launch below the Port Mann Bridge, 30 minutes from downtown. The size of your catch may vary, but fun on the water in Vancouver is guaranteed.
Imagine a 9-m- (30-ft-) long orca breaching or spouting within eyeshot of your boat on the Strait of Georgia. That can become an awe-inspiring reality on a whale watching tour. There are more than 80 resident orcas in the area, and your odds of spotting whales are upwards of 90 percent. Grey whales, minke whales and humpbacks also populate these waters, along with dolphins, porpoises and seabirds. Plan to spend three to seven hours on the ocean.
Various companies offer top-notch whale watching tours in the Vancouver area. Prince of Whales (page 82) has multiple daily departures from Coal Harbour. Wild Whales Vancouver (page 83) launches from Granville Island. Vancouver Whale Watch (page 82) is based in the historic fishing village of Steveston in Richmond.
When you're wearing a red cruiser suit and racing across Burrard Inlet aboard one of Sea Vancouver's (page 79) open-air zodiac boats, it feels like a scene from a James Bond movie.
Experienced skippers keep you safe and reveal quirky details en route about the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Lions Gate Bridge and other key sights. Photo ops abound, from the magnificent North Shore Mountains to the glass-laden architecture of False Creek. Multiple Sea Vancouver tours depart daily from the Westin Bayshore Hotel in the West End.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become a new-millennium fitness craze, and Ecomarine (page 79) can help you become a stand-up guy or gal.
Sign up for a two-hour SUP Essentials course on Wednesday evening or Saturday morning, and discover the secrets of launching and landing, keeping your balance and proper strokes. Tuesday evenings bring SUP yoga classes, great for toning the core and building flexibility. Womenonly courses are available once a month. And English Bay is a beautiful place to learn SUP, with a backdrop of city bridges and white tents hosting the annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
Clockwise from left: Kayaking around False Creek with Ecomarine. A great catch with Bon Chovy Charters. Orcas in the wild