By Vivian Chung
The words “tropical” and “British Columbia” don’t typically go together, but this province harbours some Caribbean-esque destinations that can be visited without hopping on a plane. For snowbirds looking for an escape with a tropical element, whether it be warm weather, saturated aquamarine waters or lakeside fun, consider exploring British Columbia’s rugged natural beauty.
An easy 20-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay terminal, Bowen Island offers visitors some serious R&R and is a convenient destination for a day trip from the city. The ferry lands you at the island’s cozy harbour (aptly named Snug Cove) and from there, you can wander along the boardwalk past heritage-style buildings to hidden beaches. Tour the Bowen Island Museum, which documents the history and growth of the island or discover the secluded inlets of the Howe Sound as you kayak among dolphins and seals.
(currently closed due to COVID-19)
Fed by the mighty Matier Glacier, Joffre Lakes is a series of three alpine lakes admired by outdoor lovers for intense turquoise water. At times, the 10-kilometre round-trip trail is narrow and laden with tree roots and loose rocks. If you’re looking for an even more challenging experience, make your way to Matier Glacier, though be cautious about breaking ice sheets. Just north of Pemberton, approximately 180 kilometres from Vancouver along the Sea to Sky highway, it’s possible to conquer Joffre Lakes on a day trip, but for those who like to take it slow, camping options are available at the summit.
Nestled on the eastern shores of massive Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is a popular weekend getaway for adventurers in search of tepid water, mellow hikes and a laid-back atmosphere. Summers are characterized by warm sunny days—ideal for fruit picking at orchards and winery tours and tastings. For an active afternoon, climb 2.1 kilometres to the top of Knox Mountain for a panoramic view of the city and Okanagan Lake or rent a stand-up paddleboard and challenge yourself to complete the 27-kilometre long Kelowna Paddle Trail that takes you past sandy beaches and idyllic bird sanctuaries from McKinley Beach to Bertram Creek Regional Park.
(currently closed due to COVID-19)
At 3.4 kilometres round-trip, Lindeman Lake is a short but steep hike with a huge payoff. Situated in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, 130 kilometres east of Vancouver along the Trans-Canada Highway, the impossibly turquoise waters of Lindeman Lake are deceivingly cold to swim in. Surrounded by old-growth forest and rocky slopes, tent pads are available for backcountry campers who want to wake up lakeside. For an extended hike, add an extra six kilometres by continuing to Greendrop Lake, which sees fewer visitors.
Cox Bay Beach
Regularly ranked as one of Canada’s top surf beaches, Tofino’s Cox Bay Beach is favoured for its consistent beach breaks and is host to a slew of surfing competitions. This relaxed surf culture on the west coast of Vancouver Island attracts languid vacationers looking to recharge. After a day of lessons on the water, wading in the gentle Pacific waves or reading on the stretch of white sand at Cox Bay Beach, end your visit with fresh tempura ling cod tacos at the original Tacofino truck, which has made its way to mainland Vancouver due to massive popularity—but nothing beats the original.
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