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Back from Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Whistler - fantastic!

Back from Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Whistler - fantastic!

Jul 6th, 2009, 02:24 AM
  #1  
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Back from Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Whistler - fantastic!

We got home yesterday from our trip to British Columbia, planned with the help of people on here. The trip lived up to our expectations and more, all the accommodation was good and all arrangements went according to plan. Even the weather was mainly good (just a couple of days rain) and the second week was glorious.

Some highlights - Butchart gardens - especially seeing them illuminated at night. Whale watching at Tofino - we saw grey whales and orcas. All creatures great and small - from whales to tiny hummingbirds, beavers, eagles, bears and many others that we don't have in the UK. Whistler mountain - exploring via the cable cars and trails and to cap it all a barbeque on Whistler mountain on our last night.

I hope to write a trip report once I've got myself organised - and post a selection of my hundreds of pictures online. Meanwhile it's back to the real world, washing, ironing and back to work - but with some lovely memories. Thanks to anyone who replied to my questions on this trip

A reminder of our itinerary:

20th June, arrive in Vancouver (from UK) in the evening - 1 night Delta hotel
- next morning, fly to Victoria pick up (one way) rental car
- 2 nights Gazebo B&B - visit Butchard gardens
- drive to Tofino - 4 nights Ocean village
- drive to Comox, ferry to Powell River - 2 nights Desolation Resort
- ferry Saltery Bay to Earls Cove - 2 nights Ruby Lake
- ferry Langdale to Horseshoe Bay (reserved)- drive to Whistler
- 3 nights Chalet Luise Whistler
- drop off car at Vancouver airport and back home
Maria_H is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Glad you had a good time and all went well!
taggie is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 06:27 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Thanks for checking in - looking forward to your report.
immimi is online now  
Jul 7th, 2009, 10:32 AM
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Thanks for posting! We may go up to the same places you went in a few weeks. Is there anything you would have done differently? How far a drive is Whistler from Horseshoe Bay? (I couldn't find Whistler on my map). Would you change any of the hotels, and were they reasonably priced? I have to put this trip together quickly, as our South America surprise trip for my husband's 50th birthday fell through, and the kids will be in camp, so we still want to go somewhere!
robertarafferty is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 01:32 AM
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Hi robertarafferty.

Horseshoe Bay to Whistler is a 65 mile drive - about an hour and a half without stops. There are some road works as they are improving the road for the winter olympics but they didn't hold us up, though there are some speed restrictions. Be sure to stop at Shannon falls en route - short walk to a spectacular waterfall, washrooms, picnic site, etc.

A brief overview of our accommodation - we paid approx $180 CAD a night for most, some slightly more or less. We were aiming at £100 a night for the 2 of us.

Delta airport hotel - spacious modern room with huge bed (we were upgraded after waiting 5 minutes while a premier customer checked in). Free shuttle bus to/from airport runs every 20 minutes and takes about 5 minutes. Breakfast not included but excellent buffet breakfast about $18 CAD. Good airport hotel.

Gazebo B&B - beautiful Victorian house with spacious and tasteful rooms, helpful and friendly owners and the best breakfasts on the trip. Not in a central location but convenient for Butchart gardens and only 20 minutes drive to Victoria. Highly recommend.

Ocean Village Resort - wooden cabins only yards from the beach which look a bit like upturned boats. We chose a detached cabin, which was clean, comfortable and well equipped, with lovely beach views. It's an attractive site and about 5 minutes drive into Tofino centre. Recommended.

Desolation Resort. Very well equipped, spacious and more upmarket cabins, set in forest overlooking Desolation Sound. We stayed in 4a - this and 4b are, I believe, the newest cabins and finished to a high standard. Free use of kayaks and canoes. A very quiet get away from it all location. Highly recommended.

Ruby Lake Resort - clean and comfortable wooden cabins overlooking a small lake next to Ruby Lake, we chose one with a full kitchen, though we only used it for breakfasts. Very attractive site with good Italian restaurant. Lots of birds and other wildlife in the area. Recommended.

Chalet Luise - B&B in quiet residential area, 15 minutes walk from Whistler village centre. Clean, comfortable and attractive room. Recently changed hands but new owners seem to be off to a good start and are very willing to help. Decent buffet breakfast. Recommended.

The trip worked well for us and we felt it gave us a good variety of areas and scenery - obviously it depends on your personal interests and what you are hoping to get from this trip, if it would be good for you. If you have any specific questions, I'll try to answer them.

All the best, Maria
Maria_H is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 02:41 AM
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Hi Maria.
I am hoping you can answer my question about bear sightseeing without taking a floatplane.
Look forward to hearing more about your trip.
Donna
Lordy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 06:04 AM
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The only bears we saw were 3 black bears, right under the chair lift from Whistler village to Blackcomb. There were "bear watching" boat trips from Tofino, I believe they go along some of the quiet inlets. I don't know how likely you are to see bears on this trip.
Maria_H is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 05:09 PM
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Thank you, so much, Maria for your info on hotels. We're trying to see as much as we can in the area from Seattle through Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, Tofino, Olympic Park, and return to Seattle as it is our one & only visit to this corner of the world for a long time! We'll have about 11 days, and probably not stay more than 2-3 nights anywhere. Please let us know about any must-sees in these areas!
robertarafferty is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 12:43 AM
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Butchart gardens in the evening was amazing and if you go on a Saturday, they have fireworks too (we didn't see that) - TIP - we went about 4pm, plenty of time to see the gardens in daylight, eat dinner there, then explore the illuminated gardens which are open until 10pm.

Victoria - we spend the day there, before going to the gardens. We particularly like Fisherman's Wharf with it's quirky little houseboats, harbour seals and fish and chips! We also liked the pretty sea-side town of Sidney, near Victoria airport.

Whale watching - we went on one of the bigger boats but it depends how much excitement you want. Smaller ones get nearer the whales but look quite a bumpy and possibly wet ride.

Whistler - highlight has to be the trip on the cable cars up the mountain - the "peak to peak" is amazing and the views on a clear day are fantastic. The ticket gives you all day access to a number of cable cars, some closed cabins, some open chair lifts. TIPS - a 2 day pass is only $10 CAD more than a 1 day pass. If you are there Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the Whistler lift is open until 8pm (other days 5pm) and you can have a BBQ and buffet (eat as much as you like) for $29 CAD. We spent one entire day exploring the mountain lifts and following various little trails and the 2nd went up the lifts in the afternoon and had the evening BBQ.

I've started to upload some of my pictures to Flickr. It's going to be a slow process, as I've got loads to get through, so it might be worth checking back here later, if you are interested:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/3169346...7620538664991/
Maria_H is offline  
Jul 11th, 2009, 08:29 AM
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I returned last week from vacation in BC and had a wonderful time. Highly recommend the Holiday Inn Express in Courtney-went on hike at Paradise Meadow on the recommendation of someone we met in Courtney and enjoyed it very much.
layashana is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 12:10 AM
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My photos on Flickr are now complete and also on here:

http://www.worldisround.com/articles/354437/index.html

I'm still working on a text version.
Maria_H is offline  
Jul 30th, 2009, 11:15 AM
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Maria,

Is the BBQ on Whistler Mountain only on Fridays? We are visiting Vanc/Whistler the last week of Sept and I am wondering if they will still have it...
Lalylori is offline  
Jul 31st, 2009, 12:08 AM
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Looks like you are too late in the season - they have something on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, when the main lift is open until 8pm, instead of 5.

http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/tod...dine/index.htm

It is worth noting that the 2 day lift pass is only $10 CAD more than a one day pass. It's very easy to pass a day in the mountains on the lifts and trails and nice to be able to return, if only to admire the view.
Maria_H is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 10:03 PM
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These are really nice pictures Maria_H. Thanks for sharing them!!
GlenC is offline  
Aug 1st, 2009, 10:49 PM
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What type of camera did you use Maria?
GlenC is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2009, 09:59 AM
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Hi Maria, It sounds like you had a fantastic trip. I like your advice on Butchart's. I have heard it echoed elsewhere that arrival at 4 pm or so is the way to go. Can you tell me where you had dinner. There is a special deal for the Blue Poppy. We are trying to figure out if this is a worthwhile/enjoyable meal. Any chance you had dinner there? If not, where and would you recommend it. Thanks very much.
Annetti
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Aug 3rd, 2009, 01:34 AM
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Hi GlenC - thanks for your comments. Most of my pictures were taken with a Panasonic G1, a few macros and the panoramic view with the Canon Powershot G9. Took aver 1400 pictures, so these were just the tip of the iceberg!

Hi Annetti - yes, it was fantastic! We went for the deal at the Blue Poppy which meant we got a meal for not much more than $10 CAD - the food OK but not exceptional. It'a a self-service restaurant with food kept warm on hot-plates but maybe as it was a little quiet when we went in, we thought the food was a bit overcooked and not quite as hot as it could have been. There's a choice of a few things and the menu is available on the web site. Our b&b hosts had said they had generally enjoyed the meal there, so maybe I'm being picky.

The other more upmarket Dining Room restaurant looked good but much more expensive and I think you would need to book. Overall it was good value for the price and the gardens at dusk were certainly well worth it.

You could always take a picnic or I beiieve it's also possible to leave the gardens and be re-admitted (I think they stamp your hand) so you could eat elsewhere - or have a good lunch before you go in and just have a snack there later.
Maria_H is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Hi Maria, Thanks for answering my question. I doubt you are being picky, food kept warm on a hot-plate usually is tepid and not very tasty. I think we will forgo the Blue Poppy, as enticing as the deal sounds and either do the dining room for lunch or eat before we come. Thank you again. Annetti
annetti is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 10:28 AM
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Maria, I have another question for you. I see that you spent 4 nights at Tofino. Was that the right amount of time or could you have managed with less or even more if you had the time? And if you care to comment on what you did during the 4 days, that would be appreciated, too. Thanks in advance. annetti
annetti is offline  
Aug 4th, 2009, 12:34 AM
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Hi Anetti, we found 4 nights in Tofino about right for us, as we wanted to see a variety of places but we would not have had problems staying longer, if we had the time. Due to the time taken to drive there, we didn't think it was worth going for too short a time.

Our first full day there was rather wet, so we just explored between Tofino and Ucluelet and walked a couple of the shorter trails, near Ucluelet. The next day the rain had gone and the weather was clearing nicely, so we were able to enjoy some more of the trails and visited the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre and beach. A booklet describing all the trails is available at one of the visitor centres.

After checking the weather forecast for decent weather, we'd booked a whale watching trip in the afternoon of our third day - this was a fantastic experience and we saw both grey whales and orcas. The morning before the boat trip, we spent in the little Botanic garden, which has some nice trails and a little cafe for lunch. Evenings were spent over a leisurely meal then a walk along the beach to see the sunset, if we were lucky.

How long you spend really depends on your interests - but bear in mind the time taken to get there. There are plenty of trails and beaches to explore, if you like that sort of thing. There were also more boat trips - bear watching and one to the hot springs, which we were told was worth doing but these add to the expense. Generally it's an away from it all sort of place where you make your own entertainment and enjoy the local natural environment.
Maria_H is offline  

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