The most popular vacation destinations often involve crowds, high prices, and a commercialized experience that seems to be packaged and sold to you like at a gift shop. The areas around British Columbia’s Okanagan have become a popular holiday getaway, and for good reason. They have a dessert-like climate, which means hot and dry weather. They also have a big lake great for a wide variety of water recreation and the popular wineries.
But if you’re interested in a different vacation experience, B.C. has a lot more to offer. There is a selection of hidden vacation gems that include great fishing, beautiful beaches, awe-inspiring mountains and lakes, and of course great food and drinks for the finishing touches.
This destination has long been a favourite of those seeking a return to nature and a break from the city. It has some of the West Coast’s best seafood, and it’s home to the breath-taking Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.
If you’re hoping to lie out on the hot beach, you may not want to head to Haida Gwaii, as it tends to be pretty wet. But if you’re looking for quiet, solitude, and breath-taking landscapes and forests, nowhere beats Haida Gwaii. But just because the beaches aren’t hot doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing—some stretch for many kilometres, and locals will drive their vehicles out onto the beach to enjoy fresh-caught crabs from the tide.
This region includes the communities of Nelson, Balfour, Kaslo, Argenta, Johnson’s Landing, and Crawford Bay. If you’re looking for great freshwater fishing or a place to get your boat out on the water with a little more room, Kootenay Lake is the perfect place.
The cold, deep waters of the Lake are home to some impressive trout and other freshwater fish, and you can try your hand at catching a few on your boat or through a local fishing charter. Even though the water is cold, and stays pretty cool well into the summer, the local beaches are always packed with locals, who take a break from the summer heat in the water.
The area is also home to great local music festivals such as the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival and Crawford Bay’s Starbelly Jam Music Festival.
The mountains around Kootenay Lake have gained a lot of attention because of the impressive powder for winter sports, but they’re also extremely popular with mountain bikers, hikers, and even people who just want to get out for a stroll.
This island is rumoured to have one of the highest concentrations of cabins (the West Coast word for “cottage”) of any area, and after a trip there you’ll understand why. They boast the warmest water north of Mexico, due to the warm southern tide.
Savary is a short water taxi ride from Lund, B.C., on the Sunshine Coast. On the other side you can catch a ride with the local taxi service or walk. With few amenities on the island, vacationing on Savary is a bit like backpacking where you have to bring all your own food and alcohol (there is no liquor store on the island.) There is also no power on the island, making it ideal for an off-the-grid escape.
Because island’s soil content is largely sand, the beaches on Savary Island are impressive. The island is also home to the unique and sensitive ecosystems including sand cliffs, dune meadows and ancient, forested dunes.
Skeena River and Prince Rupert
There are few places in the world that seem to have an untouched quality about them like you find in the region of the Skeena River and Prince Rupert, and it’s hard to know how long it will stay like this.
The Skeena River is known as being second longest river entirely in British Columbia, after the Fraser River. In addition to being vital to sustain a wide variety of fish and wildlife (which makes it perfect for experiencing nature in all its beauty) it has long been an important part of life for the First Nations communities.
Prince Rupert is the central point of the inside passage, and it’s the perfect destination for people seeking a wilderness vacation. The community is popular for fishing and wilderness experiences like water or air tours of the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear sanctuary, which has one of the densest remaining grizzly populations in North America.
For many years Invermere has been a popular golf and winter-sport destination for neighbours in Alberta due to its location near the provincial border for many years, and on summer weekends the population will often swell to nearly 40,000 from its 1,000 permanent residents.
Although Invermere is largely known as a hub for golfers, it also draws visitors due to its proximity to hot springs such as the Fairmont and Radium Hot Springs, and also the lesser-developed Lussier and Whiteswan Hotsprings.
Settled in the Columbia Valley (the headwaters of the Columbia River), the area is also popular for those seeking a little adventure in their vacation. Mount Swansea (near Invermere) is a designated launch area for paragliding and hand-gliding.
Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at: victoriaculinaryunderground.wordpress.com or doingsomehotcooking.wordpress.com.