Vancouver, Canada: Between The Mountains And The Sea
Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and most livable cities in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. I’ve lived in this city for my entire life so far, and frankly, despite my travels, I always find myself coming back. Why? As a nature lover myself, Vancouver is a mecca for those who enjoy outdoor activities, although it is dubbed inaptly by some as “No Fun City”. An urban centre immersed in nature, here’s why Vancouver is a must destination for all you tree huggers out there.
Green is always present in Vancouver due to the abundance of local parks. Vancouver’s largest urban park, Stanley Park, is home to 400 hectares of old growth forests. Conveniently located near the Downtown Core, this park features ocean and mountain vistas, which you can gawk at when you bike around the park’s 9km seawall. Other ways you could explore the park include horse drawn tours, hop-on hop-off tour buses, or on foot if you prefer to do so. There are many trails that interlink within the park’s forests, making it very easy to spend an entire day here. The park is also home a diverse range of ecosystems, ranging from intertidal areas to wetlands with animals such as beavers and river otters. You could also satisfy your curiosity for nature by visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, in addition to the lesser known Nature House of the Stanley Park Ecology Society, both organizations highly involved with local conservation.
A favourite activity of the locals, Vancouver is fantastic for anyone who loves hiking in the mountains. Due to its unique location, Vancouver allows the scenic landscapes around it to be extremely accessible. A short drive from its city centre is home to pristine backcountry with kilometres and kilometres of trails. For example, the North Shore, where I reside, allows easy access to the Cascade Mountains, with hikes for all levels. Places like Lighthouse Park and Cleveland Dam allow more leisurely strolls. In contrast, the famous Grouse Grind is a hike for the more experienced and determined hikers out there, with the reward of seeing the lumberjack show and its resident grizzlies at the peak. Some trails can even lead you as far as Whistler (which is also a short 2 hour drive and also home to the 2010 Winter Olympics)! The possibilities are endless and there is always a new patch of forest for you to explore.
Vancouver is surrounded by water, being located at the mouth of Fraser River. There are countless lakes and rivers in the area, not to mention the ocean and beaches. This makes it perfect for enjoying water sports of all sorts. Canoeing, waterskiing, stand-up paddle boarding, you name it, Vancouver has it all. With its temperate climate, these activities can be enjoyed year round (although sunny days are rare in the winter). Paddle boarding and kayaking in False Creek, right next to the Downtown Core, also allows a very unique view and experience of the city. If you’re feeling more extreme, Tofino, a 3-hour drive from Vancouver, is also a world class surfing destination.
Vancouver is also home to a diverse range of wildlife. Areas closer to the city feature animals like raccoons, skunks, and even coyotes, which thrive in urban environments. More remote areas are home to larger mammals such as deer and black bears! If you’re a birdwatcher like me, then Vancouver is a prime destination. As the climate is quite mild here, winter brings many species of ducks as well as raptors. Located on the Pacific flyway, Vancouver is also an important stopover for many migrants, allowing you to witness many wildlife spectacles such as snow geese and shorebird migration. However, Vancouver doesn’t just feature wildlife on land. Harbour seals are common in marinas, and whales are occasionally seen offshore. Bottom line is, you never know what kinds of creatures you might encounter when you stroll around this city!
Whenever I meet a tourist in Vancouver, they always emphasize on how beautiful the city is, and it’s true! Vancouver is absolutely beautiful. Whether you’re a casual photographer or a hardcore professional, any photo taken here looks like something out of a postcard. Head to Kitsilano Beach for a spectacular ocean sunset. Or up to the lookout atop Cypress Mountain for an incredible view of the city. Hike deep into the forests of Lynn Headwaters for hidden waterfalls. Or head up to Porteau Cove for some unpolluted night skies. Natural beauty is everywhere here.
These are just a few of the many reasons why Vancouver is so fantastic. The nature here has helped me develop a new connection with my surroundings and has even inspired me to pursue a career in conservation. There is something truly special about waking up with the possibility of seeing a black bear in your backyard while still living in such a unique multicultural centre. I often say that if you don’t discover the natural wonders of Vancouver, you aren’t getting the city’s full experience, so get out there and explore!
To see more of Alice’s photos, please visit: http://alicesun.wixsite.com/alicesunphotography