North of downtown Vancouver on the way to Whistler is North and West Vancouver - beautiful residential communities at the foot of the mountains that offer up so many recreational activities and other amenities, you’ll never want to leave.
Divers can rent their equipment and go straight to Whytecliff Marine Park which offers a variety of marine life in its protected cove and the nearby waters. The drive up to and around this beautiful park is where I first fell in love with Vancouver. Be sure you check the local laws before you start collecting the beautiful sea creatures or disturbing the crabs that live there. You'll find everything you need to know from Dive BC.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Rent a canoe at Deep Cove and take a trip up Indian Arm northward from the Burrard Inlet for a wonderful 30-kilometre adventure into the Coast Mountains. Give yourself a full day to paddle across to Jug Island or Belcarra Park where impossibly gorgeous forests grow right down to the water’s edge. Get information, lessons and schedules at Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre. If you prefer lakes, as I do, you can rent canoes at Alouette Lake for a calm ride there or at any of the several lakes in the immediate area. Use the BC Parks Web site for more information. Bowen Island, a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, offers the experienced kayaker a more challenging adventure with unmatched views from Howe Sound, a major fjord north of Vancouver.
If ice skating is your passion, don’t miss the Karen Magnussen Recreation Centre. Karen Magnussen, an Olympic medallist, grew up in a North Vancouver neighbourhood and established a world-class rink for novices and dedicated enthusiasts alike. I have been a spectator for several events there, and I can tell you it is truly magnificent. Public skating times, fees and schedules can be found at the Web site for North Vancouver rinks.
The area is also known for numerous high-quality mountain biking trails that are maintained by the North Shore Mountain Biking Association. Be prepared for lots of fun, bumps, bruises and next-day aches and pains. Check out their Web site for information on meets and other fun activities you can participate in.
Skiing and Snow Play
There is no better city in North America for snow enthusiasts than Vancouver. No city boasts more world-class ski possibilities within a two-hour drive from downtown than Vancouver. In North Van (more local lingo), Cypress Mountain is the largest downhill facility. For experienced athletes who can't get enough of mogul skiing, the Top Gun run underneath the Sky Chair provides unmatched thrills. Snowboarders won't feel left out - there's plenty of action for them at Cypress Bowl as well, especially after big snowstorms. Check out the weather, the snow levels and expected crowd surges at the Cypress Mountain Web site. A bit closer to the downtown area, Grouse Mountain offers a more relaxed snow experience; the aerial tram to the top of the mountain alone is worth the price of admission. Grouse Mountain information is available year-round at the Grouse Mountain Web site. For family fun and lessons trek on up to Mount Seymour where you’ll find skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing areas just waiting for you. My family loves this place - for a lot less money than many other places you can have a wide variety of non-stop thrills and chills, safely tubing, tobogganing or skiing down the slopes. I'm eternally grateful for the tubing lift which pulls you back up the hill so you don't have to walk up, dragging your tube behind you. In fact, the lift up is almost as much fun as the downhill ride. You can see pictures and get loads of information at Mount Seymour's Web site.