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Trip List by finnishspitz

Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Jun 10, 2007  Texas family of 4
4.5 of 5 stars based on 4 votes

Trip information, attractions, lodging, food, general.

  • 1. Vancouver
    Vancouver, British Columbia

    We flew into Seattle, rented a car, and drove to Vancouver. If you drive you only need a driver's license and birth certificate. Be sure to bring a copy of your auto liablilty insurance. We were told that it was sometimes required at the border crossing. In Vancouver we stayed at the 2400 Motel (see review). I wanted to visit the Storyeum, but I read it was closed now. We went to the Vancouver Aquarium which is located in Stanley Park. The aquarium has wonderful displays of sea creatures of the Pacific northwest. They also have the large sea otters, beluga whales and my personal favorite- a stellar sea lion. View the sea lion and his tank mate the harbor seal from the underwater viewing glass. It's incredible to watch such a huge animal swim with such grace and ease. He likes looking at the people, too. We crossed over to the north shore and went up to Grouse Mountain. The wolf exibit is up a trail behind the parking lot as you face the gondola. There were 3 wolves visible. You can take the gondola to the top where there are a couple of restaurants, gift shops and a theatre. Outside there are amazing, huge wooden carvings. There is an enclosure with 2 grizzly bears. They were awake around 4:30-5:00 pm. They had a raptor show/demonstration and a lumberjack show which the rest of the family thought was awsome. (I was too cold and went inside) It was understandably quite cold up there, snow on the ground, and the hiking trails still were closed. The wind would pick up and there was occasional precipitation, so plan accordingly. A wonderful view from up there as well. All of us enjoyed the aquarium and Grouse Mtn. The aquarium doesn't open until 10:00 am Grouse opens at 9:00 and stays open later, but the shows stop around 4:00 pm I think. They have a website with all the show times. Instead of the Capilano suspension bridge we went to the suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon which is pretty close (Norh Shore as well). 2 reasons: first it is free, and second there are no tour buses. There are some nice hiking trails on the other side of the bridge. My kids are 17 and 12, but if they were younger we might have done Capilano as I understand they have tree houses. I would have liked to have seen the salmon hatchery, but we were out of time. Watch your driving in Vancouver. Left hand turn signals are quite rare. It seems you have to wait for a yellow and then floor it. However, this is the time that one of the innumerable pedestrians will be in the cross walk. These people never look, they just stroll on across totally oblivious. You can get to the north shore over the Lion's Gate bridge at Stanley Park or take Hwy 1. We crossed over on the Lion's Gate-on a Sunday. It was very crowded. Coming back we took Hwy 1 and it wasn't bad at all. We took the ferry from Tsawwassen over to Vancouver island arriving in Nanaimo. The ferry takes reservations.

  • 2. Telegraph Cove
    Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island

    We drove from the ferry landing in Nanaimo up the island to Telegraph Cove. It is a very, very long drive. The roads are good and you can make good time unless slowed by a logging truck. Be sure to get gas and use the potty in Sayward, because this will be your last opportunity for a very long time. Also there is no gas to be bought in Telegraph Cove. The site itself is lovely, very quaint. Each of the old buildings, many out over the water, has it's own story. This is the home of Stubbs whale watching and a grizzly bear tour. Killer whales are best seen later in the summer, but this time of year we saw seals, stellar sea lions, pacific white sided dolphins and eagles. If you get motion sick on boats, this is the place to take one, because the waterways are all sheltered by land and the trip is very smooth. Kayak rentals are available. I think they also offer fishing and diving. The scenery is incredible. Alas, only half the cove is still picturesque as a new motel/condo is going in directly opposite the resort. We stayed in one of the Telegraph Cove units (see review). It's a wonderful place, it's just such a darn long drive!

  • 3. Ucluelet
    Ucluelet, Barkley Sound

    We loved Ucluelet. Once again it's the drive. This one is not so long, but wow, it is narrow and curvy. Do not attempt at night. The town is small, but there are numerous places to stay. We stayed at the Terrace Beach Resort (see review) We chose Ucluelet because we wanted to visit the Pacific Rim Park, which is positioned between Ucluelet and Tofino. Ucluelet has a great little Co op grocery (no membership required) with its own deli. We ate at Matterson House which is on the main street of the town (Penninsula?) They had excellent food. Try the bacon on the breakfast. They are a small establishment, so during peak season you need reservations. You can see the "smaller" sea lions and harbor seals down by the docks at the end of bay street. Near where the fishing boats come in there are sea lions and eagles waiting for a handout. We also went whale watching with Jamie's Whale watching tours. This time we saw humpbacks. You are going into the Pacific, so even on a calm day the swells are large. We went on one of their big boats, but there were other folks out in the inflatable boats. It was very cold out there- I can't imagine having that ice cold water splashed in my face for 2 hours. Yes, you can get closer in the zodiac, however our whales weren't breaching as their food was deeper, so I think we could see better being up higher. The best trail in the whole park is in Ucluelet- the Wild Pacific Trail. It is absolutely stunning. You will want to take a picture every 20 steps. Take the steps down to the beach, if the tide is out visit some of the tidal pools. We saw starfish and some anemones. Watch out for slick rocks. Long beach and the Comber's beach in the Pacific Rim park itself are sand beaches. The wind blows like crazy. I was more interested in seeing tidal pools. I didn't see many shells either. Wickanninish Centre has a beach right in front of it which is just as good as any of the others unless you want to surf, in which case Schooner's beach had all the action. There was not a bird to be seen at Grice Bay at this time of year. The rainforest has 2 trails. They are pretty much the same. I preferred the one across from the parking lot. It is worthwhile. The bog trail would have been interesting, but the self guided tour pamphlets were all gone. We walked it anyway, but I wouldn't bother to do it again. I would have do the Wild Pacific Trail every day- it's that pretty, oh and watch for the banana slugs, they are huge!

  • 4. Victoria
    Victoria, Victoria Capital Regional District

    Victoria is a lovely city on the harbor. We wanted to come here for the BC museum. It did not disappoint. It is a wonderful museum. It also has an I-Max. Right now it has a special Titanic exhibit which is outstanding with some live people dressed up as passengers and crew who tell their stories from a first hand perspective. It opened at 9:00 am though I think the museum normally opens at 10:00 am. Get there early and avoid the crowds. If you can get to downtown Victoria by 9:30 am you can probably find good parking. An excellent restaurant is the Harbor House. It is not inexpensive, but it was worth every penny. Try the lobster bisque. Also don't skip dessert- we tried the lemon pie, peach melba, pear helene and the strawberries- all superb. Don't worry about dressing up- we went in jeans and were made to feel welcome. Once again we needed more time- would have liked to have seen Craigdarroch Castle. We took the M.V. Coho ferry from the waterfront over to Port Angeles Washington and from there made our way back to SEA-TAC airport with an overnight in Sequim.