British Columbia is the best fly-drive destination on the planet, but getting behind the wheel is by no means the only way to get around. There are as many ways to explore as there are things to do so, before you book your car hire, give a thought to other memorable ways to travel BC. How about these for a start…
Why not be transported into a new dimension in minutes and go by float plane? You’ll be amazed at how many of these tiny planes there are, bobbing alongside the boats in harbours and floating on lakes all over the province. What’s even more amazing is that they are an everyday form of transport for many – but that doesn’t take anything away from the tremendous thrill you get as you are lifted up for the very first time. It’s a breathtaking experience on a clear blue-sky day. Just imagine being right in Vancouver Harbour, five minutes from the cosmopolitan city centre, and hopping on the float plane service to downtown Victoria.
Flying up and over the Pacific Ocean, you’ll have a magnificent aerial view of Vancouver as well as the spectacular Gulf Islands. And just 35 wonderful minutes later, having spotted the odd resident whale along the way, you’ll arrive at the heart of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Equally spectacular is another water-based way to travel – the trip along the Inside Passage, the waterway between the mainland and BC’s coastal islands. Board the Northern Expedition, BC Ferries’ newest boat, in Prince Rupert and 15 hours later, you’ll be docking in Port Hardy. Sit back as you pass through a narrow maze of channels, passes and reaches and watch the natural world unfold with a sense of awe and excitement. Spot whales or dolphins in Queen Charlotte Sound. Keep alert for the sight of bald eagles, deer and, if you’re very lucky, a white-coated Kermode bear on Princess Royal Island’s shoreline. Drink in the beautiful and dramatic scenery as you listen for the haunting calls of Swainson Thrushes at Bottleneck Inlet. It is a feast for the senses – more like a natural history mini-cruise than a ferry!
If you prefer terra firma with a difference, you could of course let the train take the strain. Over 100 years ago, engineers built some of the world’s great railway lines in this part of Canada. One of the great runs is the three-hour journey between Vancouver and Whistler. Aboard the Whistler Mountaineer, you snake though canyons and over raging rivers, pass by Howe Sound and snow-topped peaks. The scenery is magnificent, the windows are big and, best of all, no-one has to do the driving.
Published // November 2010