Hugging the shores of Canada’s mountainous Pacific coast, Vancouver is very much a city within nature. Home to one of the busiest cruise ship ports in North America, and host to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, there is no shortage of ways to explore this breathtaking city and its surrounding once your charter yacht docks.
Vancouver is surrounded by the Burrard Inlet, a coastal fjord that offers a protected harbour for boats of all sizes, yet it takes less than half an hour to sail from the city’s downtown waterfront marinas to the open waters of the Georgia Strait, where you can explore British Columbia’s hundreds of scenic islands.
Vancouver Island is the largest, and home to the province’s historic capital city of Victoria. You can also island-hop between the picturesque Gulf Islands, Queen Charlotte Islands, and further north, the uninhabited islands and islets that make up the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park.
Vancouver city itself is divided into the North Shore, flanked by snow-capped mountains that offer excellent skiing in the winter and panoramic hiking trails during the summer, and central or downtown Vancouver, the heart of which is a cluster of gleaming skyscrapers that grace the water’s edge. It is here that you will find Stanley Park, a 1,001-acre park of thick pine forests and landscaped gardens bordered by the Seawall, a 22km seafront foot and bike path that encircles the park and offers jaw-dropping views of the Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains.
Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada so there is ample luxury accommodation, even on the islands, from the world-renowned Empress Hotel in Victoria, where many kings and queens have stayed, to Relais & Chateaux country houses and five-star seaside fishing lodges. Luxury shopping, first-rate music and theatre performances, art galleries and fine dining are all at your finger-tips in Vancouver, and most are within walking distance from the downtown marinas.
Activity-seekers will never find themselves bored while visiting BC; even in downtown Vancouver you’re never far from the water, so it’s easy to explore the markets of Granville Island by sea kayak, or try paddle-boarding around the shores of Kitsilano Beach. There is an abundance of scenic championship golf courses, white-water rafting in-land, and scuba diving and surfing. Whale-watching, fishing, and bird-watching are also popular pastimes for those visiting this nature-loving coastal city.