Though the flight into Vancouver International Airport tests the claustrophobics among us, the last few hours fly by with beautiful views of snow clad mountains. Arriving in late spring gives the privilege of both amazing views of the wintery Rockies and the warmth of summer.


After the long wait at customs, a ferry over to Vancouver Island is a very relaxing way to view the various islands of the pacific. On Vancouver Island it is a few hours’ drive through bendy forest roads, to one of the best youth hostels I have found in North America. The Whalers on the Point guesthouse is teetering on the edge of the sea, while remaining close to the small town of Tofino. It is very similar to Whistler, though the Australian and British surfers are yet to fully take over the town.  


While on the island it is impossible to avoid the climate change, whether you’re enjoying a morning walk through the rainforest or an afternoon making sand castles on Long Beach. There is a crashed war plane about 20 minutes into the rainforest on a clearly marked trail that is well worth a visit.


However, though the search and rescue crew are friendly and free, it is best to stick to the path (not pink ribbons); take mobile phones and things needed in an emergency (water), stay in a group and give up if there is no plane in sight after three hours.


Back in Vancouver, there is the option to stay by the beach which the city has grown around, in the entertainment and nightlife centre, or in the place it all began, Gastown. All are fairly close together and remain a hub of young professionals, and one of the most popular places to live in the world.


In North Vancouver City, just over the water, Lynn Canyon awaits those wanting a quiet walk alone, a romantic lunch among waterfalls or a group of hikers keen to get the best views of a beautiful city. The canyon is very secluded with waterfalls, swimming holes, reservoirs, forests, rivers to paddle in and a swaying 50-metre suspension bridge, and makes for a brilliant day out whatever your mood.


Though there are plenty of museums and art galleries, the best way to get to know the city is to sit in the coffee shops in SoMa, eat sushi in Chinatown or a Shwarma on the beach and relax with the locals in Stanley Park on a Sunday afternoon.


The city is well known for its fitness and fine dining and neither will disappoint. In the streets you can chose from Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, African or the standard North American restaurants. In the parks and beaches are joggers, cyclists, roller bladders and kayakers mixed in with the usual relaxed family sports. And that’s in the summer months.


Vancouver is holding the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, which is sure to be one of the most exciting events in the young city’s history. I was very lucky to get there before the snow and surf is taken over by tourists, before the secluded secrets disappear and Vancouver changes, whether for good; or not.  


Vancouver: Canada's coastal marvel

By Cate Attwood

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