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5 Unique Experiences In British Columbia

5 Unique Experiences In British Columbia

Hailey Brotze
Top British Columbia Experiences

British Columbia – BC to the locals – is one of Canada’s most popular provinces for visitors. It’s not hard to see why. There aren’t too many places in the world that offer its combination of unspoiled wilderness and cosmopolitan city life.

Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city, is home to people from all over the world. And yet, just outside the city, the steep mountains and coastal rainforests feel like another world.

Most visitors to BC see Vancouver and possibly Victoria, the province’s island-based capital. Often, visitors then make a beeline for the stunning Rocky Mountains in the east of the province. And all of these attractions are well worth seeing.

But there are some experiences that, while they are a little off the typical tourist trail, offer a taste of what makes BC so unique. Why not add some of these adventures to your bucket list?

  • Skyride Surf Adventure at Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Skyride

Grouse Mountain has always been one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions. Standing 1200 m (4100 feet) high, it and the surrounding peaks dominate the city skyline.

In winter, Grouse Mountain is one of the most popular areas for locals to ski. However, at any time of year, it offers spectacular views over the city of Vancouver and beyond.

In the summer, there’s another reason to visit Grouse Mountain. The gondola that carries visitors to the top is usually enclosed in glass, but in the warmer months, more daring passengers can ride on the roof.

It’s an exhilarating experience to feel the wind on your face as you ascend quickly up the flanks of the mountain. Just make sure you hold on tight, especially near the support towers!

Read more: 10 Surprising Things About Canada That Will Blow Your Mind!

  • Snorkel With Salmon

The ecosystem of coastal BC is built around one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena: the salmon run.

Every year, millions of these ocean-dwelling fish return to the streams and rivers where they were born to lay eggs of their own. For the salmon, it’s the last journey they will ever make, the culmination of their lifecycle. For the animals that call BC home, including humans, it’s an annual bonanza.

This phenomenon occurs in the fall, with different species of salmon returning in alternate years. You can witness it in almost any of BC’s abundant rivers.

But for a closer look, head to the town of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. You can don a wetsuit there to keep you warm and swim among the spawning salmon.

  • See Wild Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bear, British Columbia

The tiny town of Bella Coola isn’t all that well-known, even to residents of BC. While it’s only 400 km north of Vancouver, the drive from the city takes 14 hours.

It’s also reachable via a passenger ferry from Vancouver Island, which winds its way through the stunning fjords of the coast. If you don’t mind tiny planes, you could also fly from Vancouver to the valley.

With a population of around 2000 people, Bella Coola has no national chains. The people of the valley are proud of their isolation and independence. But in the fall, when the salmon run begins, Bella Coola becomes one of the best places in the world to see bears in the wild.

Gorging themselves on the abundant salmon, these coastal grizzlies grow to enormous sizes. Seeing them fishing in the clear mountain streams of this stunning valley is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Read more: Mt. Thor, Nunavut, Canada – Earth’s Greatest Vertical Drop

  • Visit Wreck Beach

North America’s largest clothing-optional beach is also one of Vancouver’s most beautiful. Tucked away down a steep flight of stairs in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Wreck Beach feels very far removed from the city. And its west-facing location guarantees gorgeous sunsets.

Furthermore, police have traditionally maintained a hands-off approach to this particular beach, resulting in a more anarchic, freewheeling vibe than Vancouver’s more conservative beaches.

So, if you feel like letting it all hang out on your vacation, consider a visit to Wreck Beach. Just remember, it’s not polite to stare.

  • Kayak With Killer Whales

Killer Whales (Orcas) in British Columbia

Johnstone Strait lies off the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This part of the Pacific Ocean, hemmed in by thickly forested mountains, looks much like the rest of BC’s breathtaking coast.

But in a province full of superlative wildlife viewing locations, this is another one. Johnstone Strait is one of the best places in the world to see killer whales in the wild.

The killer whales, or orcas as they are more correctly known, come here to feed on the abundant salmon and to socialize with one another. Around 150 orcas call the area home during the summer months.

It’s possible to see them even from the land, but the best way to encounter the orca is by boat. And perhaps the most thrilling method of all is to kayak among them.

There has never been a recorded instance of a wild orca displaying aggression toward a human. Thanks to the lack of a motor, kayaks allow you to get closer to the animals than any other means.

If you’re lucky, the orca will swim right by, utterly unconcerned by your presence. It’s a thrilling and humbling experience to be so close to these powerful animals. Tour operators provide all kayaking equipment, but don’t forget to bring a waterproof camera. The images you capture will stay with you forever.

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