There is something very special about Canada’s gateway province and there is no better place to feel this magic than when gliding through powder at one of our favourite ski resorts, Whistler Blackcomb. With runs for everyone and a twinkling village with loads of bars, clubs and top-notch restaurants, it’s no surprise Whistler has become a rite of passage for Australian snow bunnies.
It’s not, however, BC’s only winter offering. If you venture east you’ll come across other popular resorts, such as Big White and Fernie, while serious ski addicts will want to hire a truck and throw the skis on the roof for a road trip to remember along The Powder Highway, a 1000-km circuit jam-packed with downhill, cross-country, heli- and cat-skiing opportunities. If you go there, you may just want to stay forever.
OK, so beach-spoilt Aussies don’t exactly need to venture to Canada for a surf, but if you’re having withdrawals or have a desire to see how long you can last in the chilly water off Vancouver Island, you’ll want to head straight to Tofino. This once sleepy but quickly growing, Byron-esque town has surf culture down pat and some seriously stylish hotels, too. After you’ve hit the waves, cosy up in the warmth of the stunning Wickaninnish Inn. If you’re there between November and February, grab a single malt whisky from the bar and watch wild weather lash the coast from one of Canada’s best storm-watching spots.
Vancouver is arguably Canada’s prettiest city thanks to its sprawling harbour. It also has a laid-back culture (similar to Sydney), where tourists can mix with locals while doing yoga in the park in seaside Kitsilano – in summer, of course. Kits, as it’s known to locals, is also a great place to grab a healthy bite, go for a spot of shopping, and enjoy a swim or paddleboard.
First-timers to the Vancouver need to head to Granville Island, a former industrial centre that’s now home to great restaurants, art galleries and a fantastic produce market. It’s easy to reach via one of the oh-so-cute ferries and is a great place to stock up on delicious BC berries.
Moving away from the coast, the Okanagan Valley is one of Canada’s prime agricultural areas and, as a result, there’s a strong farm-to-table culture here. Base yourself in Kelowna for a few days as you tour the surrounding wineries. Summerhill Pyramid Winery is a good place to start; it’s won multiple awards for its sparkling and ice wine, and all of the wines are certified organic – bonus points.
After you get your grape fix, why not sample some good old-fashioned apple or peach pie at Davison Orchards Country Village, in nearby Vernon?
From there, venture to the rainbow resort of SilverStar, where you can go mountain biking in summer and snowboarding in winter among the lollipop-coloured buildings.
No trip to BC would be complete without exploring at least one of its stunning parks. Head towards the Rockies and into Yoho National Park, where you can unplug and immerse yourself in Canada’s wilderness. If you’re up for a challenge, lace up your boots for a heli-hiking adventure in Bugaboo Provincial Park.