Wedged between ocean and mountains, Vancouver is literally surrounded by nature, but to observe B.C.’s most bountiful supply of wildlife during your yacht charter holiday, the islands are your best bet. Whether it’s the centuries-old trees of B.C.’s old growth forests, watching bears scoop salmon straight from a river, exploring icy glaciers by air or plunging below the frigid waters off B.C.’s coastline to explore the remnants of a shipwreck, you will find plenty of ways to get up close and personal with nature.
For a glimpse at some of Mother Nature’s most impressive work, take a private aerial tour of the spectacular glaciers that lie just beyond Vancouver. Seasoned skiers may want to tack on a heli-skiing trip as well, but no matter how you see these magnificent peaks they are sure to leave you breathless. For a private chartered helicopter tour you can book with a specialist operator such as Glacier Air, SKY Helicopters, or BC Helicopters. If you are staying in Whistler and would like to see the glaciers by foot, reserve a spot on a glacier trekking or hiking day-tour through an operator such as Canadian Outback Adventures.
Staying in the heart of the Canadian wilderness doesn’t mean sacrificing your creature comforts – many of B.C.’s wildlife lodges are five-star, award-wining destination resorts where you can spend your days observing bears and whales in their natural habitat and sipping fine wines by a fireplace in the evening. Plenty of new wildlife lodges have come onto the scene in the past decade, however few can hold a candle to the Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat in beautiful Clayoquot Sound – where guests stay in luxurious heated canvas tents and spend days fishing, hiking, whale watching, horse riding, and whitewater kayaking. Sonora Eco Resort, a member of the Relais & Chateaux collection located in BC’s remote Inside Passage, offers an award-winning spa that is the perfect place to unwind after a day of fishing, hiking, bear-watching or embarking on a customised photography excursion
Old Growth forests
B.C.’s impressive old growth forests, mostly found in the remote coastal areas of the province, are recognised the world over for their awe-inspiring giant Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, which are between 100 and 1,000 years old and reach up to 70 metres in height. A delightful day-trip for children and adults, visiting these enchanting forests is a one-off experience unique to Canada’s west coast. Some of the forests are now protected provincial parks (although sadly many are still vulnerable to logging), where you will find hiking trails and restroom facilities. If you are visiting Vancouver Island, spend a day exploring Clayoquot Sound, a 2,600 sq kilometre UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of old growth rainforest on the island’s west coast.
The waters off the coast of BC are rated as some of the best for Scuba diving in the world, and are home to incredible natural wonders such as glacier-carved fjords and reefs, shipwrecks (including the world’s first ‘airplane reef’, constructed from a discarded Boeing 737), and fascinating marine creatures such as giant octopus, whales, anemones and brilliantly coloured rockfish. For a comprehensive overview of the best dive spots in BC, many of which are marine protected parks, visit this list compiled by the International Diving Centre, located in Vancouver.