We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Which British Columbia hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Brisbane
Level Contributor
206 posts
17 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Hi all - I always receive such good advice from forums on TripAdvisor prior to going on my trips that I always return the favour with a trip report on return. I personally find them very helpful, and many a trip report has influenced my own trips.

My family and I - me, hubby and two kids age 13 and 10 - visited Canada for three weeks in late June to mid-July 2013, returning home to Australia yesterday. I thought I would include Part 1 on the BC forum, and write a followup report on both the BC and Alberta forums as we did a round-trip to the Rockies and back after we had been to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. It'll be long as I personally always find the detailed reports the most helpful. So here goes.....

We left Brisbane on a Qantas flight to Vancouver via LA on a Friday morning, landing in to Vancouver at lunchtime on Friday. We had elected to pick up a rental car from Thrifty to use for the next 7 days, a Toyota RAV4. It is possible to visit Vancouver without a car but personally I like the convenience, and didn't feel like navigating public transport after travelling for 24 hours. For accommodation I had booked an apartment through the VRBO website (Vacation Rental by Owner) - www.vrbo.com. We have organised accommodation through this website very successful on several occasions now. Our preference is somewhere self-contained so that we can minimise eating out. The apartment I found in downtown Vancouver had room for the 4 of us as well as free parking and free wifi and at a great price, so we were all happy. Here it is - http://www.vrbo.com/354676. After making our way to the apartment we headed off on foot to explore the area and to try to stay awake until a reasonable time! We walked along the seawall to English Bay and back via a supermarket to stock up on supplies before heading to bed after a long day.

Brisbane
Level Contributor
206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

The next day we headed just down the street to the Aquabus stop at the end of Hornby Street, to head over to Granville Island. Unfortunately while running to the ferry I torn my calf muscle, so spent the next 4-5 days limping but I didn't let it stop me doing all we had planned! We spent an hour or so on Granville Island but my kids don't really like shopping (and neither do I really) so we headed back to town on the ferry and picked up some bikes for the day. We hired them from the Reckless Bike store in Yaletown - http://www.reckless.ca - without any problem (and cycling was easier than walking with my dodgy leg!). We rode up to Stanley Park, really enjoying the view and architecture of Vancouver on the way. I had pre-booked aquarium tickets online and so we spent a good few hours there which we all enjoyed. Beluga whales are my new favourite whale! After we finished there we continued our circuit of Vancouver city on the bikes until the early evening, eating a cheap McDonalds dinner along the way. I could have spent a lot longer in Stanley Park but it had been a big day and my leg was sore so we had to head home.

The next day, after a leisurely start and returning the bikes to the shop, we headed up Grouse Mountain. The weather had taken a turn for the worst, with light rain and it was a bit chilly. Not your ideal day to head up Grouse Mountain but we enjoyed it all the same. The lumberjack show was funny, we loved seeing the grizzly bears and the bird show, and the kids got to play in a bit of snow up there too. We elected not to visit the suspension bridge as none of us are keen on heights and instead went to Kitsilano Beach for a quick visit and walk there. Another good day on holiday!

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
Destination Expert
for British Columbia
Level Contributor
8,162 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Everyone should have a favourite Whale!

Brisbane
Level Contributor
206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

After our three nights in Vancouver, it was time to head over to Vancouver Island for four nights. I decided to spend all our time in Ucluelet as the Pacific Rim National park area looked so pretty (and it was). We booked another vacation rental which we thoroughly enjoyed -http://www.vrbo.com/308807#. I can highly recommend staying here. I picked Ucluelet over Tofino as it was smaller and quieter but we probably spent equal amounts of time in the two places. It doesn't really matter - the drive between the two towns isn't far and is pretty.

I had prebooked the ferry online and had a nice sailing. We also enjoyed our drive over to Ucluelet, stopping at the obligatory "goats on the roof" and at Cathedral Grove. We spent some time playing on some rocks near a river (don't know the name - it just looked pretty when we saw it!) and the kids learned to catch tadpoles (and put them back of course!). Unfortunately the bad weather continued, and in fact remained with us for the four days we were on Vancouver Island. The journey kept us busy all day so we had a nice quiet evening in our very cosy accommodation.

The next day dawned bleak, cold and rainy. I had booked a family surf lesson for that afternoon because what else do Australians do when they visit Canada but learn to surf!! As you may have noticed, I had prebooked a lot of things, and I'm sure some would question the wisdom of doing that when the weather is uncertain but I believe it makes you get out and do what it was you wanted to do despite the weather. We most likely wouldn't have gone surfing if we had looked out the window that morning, but because we had booked we did and thoroughly enjoyed it! (Well, the other three did, I didn't do it as my leg was still dodgy). As it turns out the rain stopped for the few hours they were out there. My 10 year old daughter was the first one to stand up and ride the board, and I'll always remember the look on her face as she achieved that, while shouting "I did it, I did it!!". Before the lesson we spent some time in the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre and on Wickaninnish beach before having lunch in Tofino.

Our adventure for the next day was a bear-watching tour out of Tofino. Again the weather was bad and we might not have done it if we hadn't prebooked, but again the rain stopped for the couple of hours of the tour. There are a lot of bear-watching tours in Tofino and Ucluelet and I don't think it really matters which one you choose. The differences are mainly related to the type of boat used. We went with Remote Passages - www.remotepassages.com - on a zodiac which we really enjoyed. We saw bald eagles, several lone bears and then a real treat - a mother and two cubs. Just too cute! I could have watched them for ages! We lunched at a lovely place in Tofino called Sobo which was too good, and then spent the afternoon walking along several beaches (mainly in the rain). Chesterman Beach was my favourite - can definitely see us returning to spend some more time here.

Our final day on Vancouver Island was going to involve a hot-springs day trip but we cancelled that because I wasn't sure my leg was going to manage the 1000 steps through the forest to the pools. Instead we booked a whale-watching tour with Jamies Whaling Station, out of Ucluelet. http://jamies.com Well, this time the weather did affect us - it was bumpy, wet and cold. The whales were hiding (we saw one from a distance, and the tail of another), we all felt terribly sea-sick and so we asked to go back early. We were the only ones/fools on board! We recovered on land, did a short walk to see the lighthouse and then admitted defeat and headed home out of the rain.

We really liked Vancouver Island and as I said, I can see us returning here. The coastline is really rugged and interesting, it isn't crowded and we enjoyed our time despite the weather.

Of course, the next day dawned nice and clear (grrrr!), in time for us to head back to Vancouver. We were booked in to the Holiday Inn Express in Richmond for the night, but they had oversold so they put us up in the Hilton instead. It was a minor inconvenience having to change hotels, but I made sure we got free breakfast, and free wifi as we would have had at the Holiday Inn so it didn't really bother us. We picked an airport hotel to be close to where we were picking up our RV the next day.

So, the first week of our holiday was done and we were about to start the next part of our adventure. I'll post that report soon, and I'll post a link to my photos when I have gone through them all! Cheers!

Brisbane
Level Contributor
206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Lol SamSalmon - agree!

Sechelt, BC
Destination Expert
for Sunshine Coast
Level Contributor
2,952 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Great read. Enjoying your adventure. Looking forward to more.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
208 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Thanks for taking the time to write the report! Glad to hear you had a memorable time, despite the weather! (If it makes you feel any better, I was on vacation the last week of June and was rained out as well!)

The last two years here, June has been soggy, with the weather clearing on July 1st. I think I've sworn off traveling in June!

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
24,705 posts
59 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

This is the Wet Coast for a reason. That temperate coastal rainforest survives on it. You make an excellent point - you can't let the rain stop you, and its just so true! You might have to adapt and modify, but carry on. A kayak trip in sheltered waters might have been a better choice than the whale watching trip. Such a shame about that particular experience.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
55,615 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

I enjoyed your TR, jemmwm. I have added it to the BC Trip Report Collection. I look forward to reading part 2.

Brisbane
Level Contributor
206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

Part 2 now done...

tripadvisor.com/…51297664

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
55,615 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report Part 1: Vancouver and Vancouver Island

For some reason that link just trips back up to post 5. I will post the link again in case it is happening to more than just my computer.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154922-i80-k67171…