Canada Destinations

Get Your Nature Fix in British Columbia: Adventures into Canada’s Wild

Criss-crossed with iconic highways, jaw-dropping sights and enriching experiences that thread together the country’s most stunning landscapes, British Columbia is made for exploring.

British Columbia is best described as a province whose natural beauty is legendary, limitless and beyond inspiring.

Find clarity beneath towering mountains, let the steady rhythm of the ocean soothe you and be exhilarated by the spectacle of spotting wildlife. This is the British Columbia Effect: a transformative experience that occurs when you connect with the power of nature. Feel it for yourself with our pick of the best British Columbia experiences for igniting creativity, calming busy minds and revealing new perspectives.

Get your nature fix in British Columbia with our handpicked escapes.

Be soothed by the ocean and lakes

Paddle through the Sunshine Coast

A kayaker paddles along the coastline of Desolate Sound at low tide

Get your fix of mindful movement on the Sunshine Coast while strengthening the connection to your surroundings with a kayaking experience through Desolate Sound Marine Park, the largest marine park in British Columbia with over 6,350 acres of shoreline and water.

Embrace the excitement of trying something new and scan your eyes across towering mountains that frame the water’s edge as you dig your paddle into placid waters. Go fast, or take it slow – whatever your pace, you’ll feel the physical impact of this adventure in your biceps; along with the benefits of the mental clarity that comes with spending time on the water.

Catch a wave in Tofino

Tofino

Let the salty ocean air work its magic in Tofino, Canada’s surf capital, situated on Vancouver Island’s West Coast. The island boasts plenty of chances for surfers of all skill levels to attune body and mind to the hypnotic rhythm of waves crashing along the coastline. The waters might be chilly, but once you throw on a wetsuit and dive in, you’ll be rewarded with a truly rejuvenating experience.

If you find yourself on the island in winter, storm watching is an unmissable way to passively absorb the power of the environment, with Cox Bay Beach and Chesterman Beach among the most popular spots.

Go ice fishing in Kamloops

When the temperature drops, Kamloops’ gleaming lakes transform into icy, snow-covered platforms perfect for a truly Canadian experience – ice fishing! Head to Edith Lake, Heffley Lake, Monte Lake or Paul Lake, safely find a patch of ice, drill a hole and drop a line into the frozen lake – if you need a little more guidance for your first time, there are plenty of locally run tour companies who can show you the ropes while providing all the gear you need. Let any distracting thoughts slip away as you bring your focus to the extraordinary, picture-perfect backdrop of snow-covered terrain that surrounds you.

To complete the experience, don’t forget to pack a box of Timbits donut balls and a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee.

Get your heart racing with a river rafting adventure

Fraser River with Chilliwack River Rafting. Image courtesy of British Columbia

There’s no greater thrill than cascading down powerful rapids on a river rafting adventure. Feel the rumble of the water beneath you and get your heart pumping along the Fraser River, considered to be one of British Columbia’s most picturesque runs with unrivalled views of Mount Robson (the highest in the Canadian Rockies). Be challenged by Class 2 or 3 rapids, or, if you’re seeking true adventure, blast through Class 4 and 5 rapids in sections of Kicking Horse River, framed by canyon walls and the Canadian Rockies.

Relax in the rainforest

Unwind at Hot Springs Cove

For a true back-to-nature experience, it doesn’t get better than being engulfed by the warm, mineral-rich waters framed by verdant greenery at Hot Springs Cove, located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Calm the senses, relieve your weary muscles and take a dip in one of the many rock pools filled with steaming geothermal water. For an invigorating experience, make your way from the top level of rock pools to the next one below as they gradually become cooler from the ocean swell mixing with the heated bubbling waters.

Walk along the famed Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Courtesy of Destination BC/Capilano Suspension Bridge

If you prefer to keep two feet on terra firma, then look away… this one is for the fearless. Walk among the treetops and lush greenery on the north shore of Vancouver with a visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, constructed in 1889. Step onto the bridge, suspended 70 metres above the Capilano River, and experience the magic of being encircled by towering evergreen trees. Inhale the cedar-scented air, then visit the Kia’palano educational centre to deepen your understanding of the Indigenous people and their connection to the area.

Hike through the Pacific Rim National Park

The longer you spend in nature, the greater the impact of the British Columbia Effect – and the Pacific Rim National Park’s wild and rugged temperate rainforests are the place to absorb nature’s splendour. This unmissable spot is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is steeped in history. The area is ome to the Nuu-chah-nulth people, whose rich cultural heritage you can experience here on a guided walking tour of the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail.

Unleash some pent-up wanderlust and feel your mood instantly lift as you choose from easy to challenging hikes across one of the three regions, Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail.

Try some nature therapy with Forest Bathing

A couple are walking in the forest in Stanley Park in Vancouver.

If you’re craving some contemplative time surrounded by greenery and lofty trees, you might want to get acquainted with the Japanese concept of ‘shinrin-yoku’, which translates to ‘forest bathing’. Not quite hiking, and not quite meditation, the best way to approach forest bathing is by taking a slow, mindful stroll through the forest while consciously engaging your senses to create a deeper connection with your surroundings. With almost 25% of the world’s temperate rainforests peppered throughout British Columbia, you’re spoilt for places to go. Choose to venture solo or with an intimate group through Mount Douglas Park, Elk Falls Provincial Park or Cape Scott Provincial Park, all on Vancouver Island.

Find clarity in the mountains

Heli-hike in the Bugaboos

Clear your mind and allow yourself to be awestruck by the overwhelming beauty of the Bugaboos in the Purcell Mountain Range with a one-of-a-kind heli-hike. Instead of hiking from the mountain base to the peak, you can fast-track your way towards the summit or reach lesser-visited trails at a higher elevation via a short helicopter flight, plus the company of an expert guide each step of the way. Rise above the clouds to see how the landscapes have been sculpted by Mother Nature over time and feel the incredible presence of this mighty landscape.

Embrace the thrills of mountain biking Vancouver’s north shore

Enjoying the alpine mountain bike trails at Sun Peaks Resort

Each season in British Columbia offers a different experience – and exploring on two wheels is an excellent way to spend time in nature during the warmer months. Venture 20 to 25 minutes out of Vancouver to reach Vancouver’s north shore mountains and feel a rush of adrenaline while exploring three dedicated biking zones – Mount Seymour, Mount Fromme and Cypress Mountain. Wind through emerald forest with the ocean as your backdrop – a truly unique biking environment. For adventures in the province’s interior, head to Sun Peaks Resort located a 45-minute drive northeast of Kamloops and race around the challenging terrain.

Swing between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on a zipline tour

Zip lining experience at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver.

Head outdoors and recharge in the way nature intended… but with a thrilling twist. Soar between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with a high-flying zipline adventure above the rugged landscape. If you’re feeling brave, take on The Sasquatch – the longest zipline in North America, stretching an impressive two kilometres.

Read more: 8 travel bubbles we can’t wait to pop

Connect with wildlife

Watch whales in their natural environment

Orca viewing on a guided tour with Prince of Whales
Image courtesy of Destination BC/Prince of Whales/Seanie Malcolm

Allow the drama of the wild to unfold before your eyes on a whale-watching tour from Vancouver or Victoria (between April to October during the migration season). These bustling cities are perfectly positioned for visitors and locals to reap the benefits of time in the great outdoors. Whales can be notoriously elusive and timing is everything: finally seeing one of these spectacular creatures in the wild is nothing short of thrilling. Peer through the misty horizon, and you may be lucky enough to spot humpback whales, minkes and seals among other creatures, or watch closely for three pods of orca whales that permanently live in the Straight of Juan off the coast of Victoria.

Head north to Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary

Grizzly bear eating sedge grass near Prince Rupert

Feel all your senses heightened at Canada’s first and only designated grizzly bear sanctuary, accessible only by plane or boat. Hop into a 24-foot Zodiac boat, quietly float through the reserve and safely gaze in awe at these giant creatures as they roam this untouched corner of the province. Reach this far-flung corner by floatplane, departing Prince Rupert port with a journey time of approximately 20 minutes.

Spot spawning salmon

The arrival of autumn in British Columbia marks the beginning of one of Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles – spawning salmon. Each year, thousands of salmon battle their way upstream to ensure the survival of their offspring. Find a perch alongside the river in Goldstream Provincial Park, escape to the peaceful oasis of Stamp River Provincial Park, see five species of salmon at Campbell River on the East Coast of Vancouver Island and see the waters of Adams River turn red from all the salmon moving upstream.