About 15 minutes north of Whytecliff is the sleepy little village of Lions Bay. Stop for coffee overlooking the ocean and stock up on freshly made sandwiches at the cute general store. You’re now travelling on Highway 99, otherwise known as the Sea to Sky Highway, where an alternative picnic spot is at Shannon Falls Provincial Park about 25 minutes north of Lions Bay.
The park can get busy in the height of summer so arrive before midday to secure a picnic table. Then work off your lunch with a walk to the base of the falls along the boardwalk and well-maintained trail. Surrounded by old growth trees and a permanent mist, you’ll hear the water’s thundering roar before the falls come into view. Easy accessibility and the non-strenuous hike make this one of the Sea to Sky Highway’s most popular places to pull over.
If you want to split this journey over two days, Squamish would be a great option for an overnight stop. An old mill and logging town, Squamish is now more focused on the tourist dollar, as well as being home to many ex-Vancouverites who’ve moved up here to escape the high rents of the city.
The adventure sports and hiking scene is huge. The self-proclaimed Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada offers every kind of adrenaline activity imaginable, including rock climbing, canoeing, whitewater rafting, kite surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, mountain biking, scuba diving, sailing, dirt biking and cross-country skiing – phew. The less mobile and energetic don’t need to miss out either – try eagle viewing, flightseeing, snowmobiling, golfing or horseriding for starters. Accommodation options range from hotels and B&Bs to campsites, RV parks and log cabins along the riverside.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
The word ‘provincial’ might make it sound rather tame, but Garibaldi Provincial Park comprises almost 200,000 hectares and is one of the most dramatic – and accessible – wilderness areas in Canada. This is real backcountry stuff: a rugged skyline of steep volcanic mountains, wildflower alpine meadows, near-impenetrable cedar forests and a number of impressive turquoise lakes. Glacier-encircled Wedgemount Lake and 300 metre-deep Garibaldi Lake are two of the most popular, both of which can be reached via several moderate-to-challenging hiking trails.