Discover True Canada
Our Canadian Family Road-Trip
Abi has been reminiscing on their last family trip to this incredible country……
Canada had always been on our wish list; we’d been waiting for the boys to be of an age where they were physically able to mountain bike, canoe and raft so they could make the most of the outdoor lifestyle on offer, so off we took when they were aged 9 and 11, with little sister age 4 trailing behind!
We decided to brave the longest leg of the journey first, London to Hawaii via Vancouver (where the time difference is even greater than Australia!). Bizarrely we didn’t have an issue and felt less jet-lagged than we have when heading to the East Coast of the USA! The children were so excited about staying at the Kahala Hotel in rooms overlooking the dolphin pools – entertainment 24/7 and surely one of the most unique and special views ever. Next on the agenda was a visit to Pearl Harbour, a must-see for so many and incredibly moving. Our final Hawaiian pit stop was to Maui where our beach flop was somewhat interrupted by the first direct hit of a hurricane in 30 years! We do like an adventure though and survived just fine – proof, if ever, not to listen to the apocalyptic views of the Travel Channel!
Back to Canada, we spent the first few days in beautiful Vancouver, soaking up the atmosphere by cycling around Stanley Park, meandering along the waterfront and generally relaxing in what is a lovely laid-back city. We felt our true Canadian adventure began in earnest when heading over to Vancouver Island on the ferry. Our first stop was a flying visit to Victoria which pleasantly surprised us with its historic elements. The music festival was in full swing and the streets were full of entertainers, which added a fun dimension to our stay. For the kids, the highlight was the little taxi ferries whizzing across the harbour. Of course, we had to include an Orca-spotting trip on a zodiac before setting off for Tofino and the ‘Wild West’. After a beautiful drive, the Pacific Rim National Park beckoned (crazy to think that if you sail set from here the next landfall is Japan!). The ancient forests lining the wide, driftwood-strewn beaches gave an almost pre-historic feel to the coastline and there is an extra frisson to walking in the woods here too – could a bear be hiding behind the next tree?!
Talking of these furry creatures, the stars of so many childhood stories, we loved seeing young black bears foraging on our coastal bear-watching trip, again by zodiac. It’s at this point that many of our clients head up to Knight Inlet floating Lodge to see the Grizzlies – surely the ultimate Canadian safari and yes, the Great Bear Rainforest really does exist!
Waving goodbye to Vancouver Island, it was time to head back to the mainland – this time for the adrenaline-fuelled activities of Whistler. We were impressed with the excellent value of the hotels in summer and the set-up for families is great, with lots of apartment-style accommodation. Fast hill bike descents were on the cards for the boys along with rafting and zip-lining. The Peak to Peak Gondola makes for a breath-taking ride and of course we had to wait for the gold Gondola with the glass bottom! If you are looking for some down-time after all that action, the pool area at the Four Seasons is our recommendation.
Whilst a combination of Vancouver Island and Whistler makes for a fantastic trip for families looking for wildlife-watching opportunities and fun activities, we were fortunate to have a little longer so decided to include a drive through the Rockies. After a stop in Clearwater at a lovely lodge (where we had great fun running down the wooden pontoon and jumping into the lake), we headed up to Jasper. To be honest, we didn’t find the town as pretty as its name might suggest, it’s quite industrial and can get very busy. Whilst the driving was stunning and the Icefields Parkway entertaining, the attractive town of Banff was definitely more us. This was where we tried our hand at a ‘Voyageur’ (long) canoe, learning about the fur trade explorers who used this mode of transport from the 17th to 19th Centuries. A stop for ice-cream at ‘Cows’ also soon became the highlight of the day.
To sum up, it’s definitely a country we’d love to go back to and it undoubtedly offers great value for families travelling in our summer. That, combined with the stunning scenery, friendly locals, ease of getting around and accessibility to plenty of those elusive connecting rooms in hotels, means it ticks lots of boxes!
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