British Columbia truly comes alive in the summer time, and for good reason! There is so much to do, and the entire province becomes an outdoorsman’s paradise. Summer temperatures range from the west coast’s moderate average of 23 degrees Celsius, while the interior heats things up with highs of around 30 degrees Celsius. Inspired to discover British Columbia in the summer? Check out some of the things you can get up to below!
Thanks to the numerous mountains and parks in British Columbia, there are countless hiking trails to explore. In fact, you could spend the entire summer hiking and need to come back the next year without covering it all. From the Rockies, to the Vancouver Island Mountain Range, you’ll find parks and trails that satisfy any level and desire when it comes to hiking. Although you can still do some of the hikes in the fall and winter, the summer sun makes it much more enjoyable. The provincial parks provide extensive, and well-kept trails to explore, and there are plenty of locals' areas you may get to explore, or stumble upon, if you're lucky. Vancouver Island is home to a number of famous trails such as the North Coast Trail and Cape Scott, and its terrain and scenery make it an easy top destination to hike in B.C. Learn more about the top hiking spots on Vancouver Island here: www.discovervancouverisland.com/top-hiking-spots/.
Chasing waterfalls is a favourite pastime for plenty of B.C. locals, and the province has an inexhaustible list of cascades to visit. Whether it’s an easy drive, a quick stroll, or an overnight hike, there’s nothing more beautiful than a rushing waterfall. If you’re lucky, the fall you find might even be a local swimming hole or cliff jumping spot! Many provincial parks provide the best places to spot some of B.C's most stunning cascades. Check out the list below for some of the most epic falls in the province - you might even add some to your waterfall hunting checklist:
- Helmcken Falls – Wells Gray Provincial Park, B.C.
- Takakkaw Falls – Yoho National Park, B.C.
- Bridal Veil Falls – Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, B.C.
- Spahats Creek – Wells Gray Provincial Park, B.C.
- Virgin Falls – Vancouver Island, B.C.
- Wapta Falls – Yoho National Park, B.C.
- Brandywine Falls – Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, B.C.
- Canim Falls – Wells Gray Provincial Park, B.C.
- Della Falls – Strathcona Provincial Park, B.C.
- Hunlen Falls – Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park, B.C.
Riddled all over the province are refreshing lakes that make for the perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day. Tucked into mountains, off the beaten path, glacier fed and hike-in are just a few of the lake options in the province. Some offer the peace and tranquility of a private destination, while others are filled with the roar of engines and laughter as people indulge in their favourite summer water sports. Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park are fantastic destinations close to Vancouver where people flock in the summer to take a dip and enjoy a hike. Comox Lake on Vancouver Island is glacier fed and frigid, even on the hottest summer days, while Sproat Lake provides some of the best waters on the Island for sports and fun. Okanagan Lake spans past Vernon and Penticton and is considered one of the best for summer fun, as the weather in the area is usually warm and sunny for the majority of the summer days. Two of the most scenic lakes are Eva Lake in Revelstoke and Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, thanks to their shores being hugged by sky-scraping mountains.
The list of fantastic lakes in British Columbia is endless, but that only means one thing. You'll never be far from a pristine body of water in which you can take a dip during a hot, summer's day.
Along the coast of British Columbia are some world-renown beaches that just scream “summer.” Next to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, you can relax on lengths of silky sand, soaking up some rays, playing beach volleyball and Frisbee, or even surfing if you’re on the coast of Vancouver Island. There’s nothing more “summer” than a beach day. Thanks to the islands that dot B.C.'s coast, like the Gulf and Discovery Islands, you'll have no trouble claiming a private paradise for a day, either. Below are some of the best beaches in British Columbia:
- Long Beach - Tofino, B.C.
- North Beach - Haida Gwaii, B.C.
- South Beach - Savary Island, B.C.
- Goose Spit - Comox, B.C.
- Nels Bight - Cape Scott Provincial Park, B.C.
- Tribune Bay - Hornby Island, B.C.
- Third Beach - Vancouver, B.C.
- Wreck Beach - Vancouver, B.C.
- Chesterman Beach - Tofino, B.C.
- Rathtrevor Beach - Parksville, B.C.
Fair-weather anglers rejoice when summer comes around, as it signals the time to get those boats back in the water. Well-stocked lakes and rivers provide endless freshwater fun, especially for fly fishermen, while along the coast the salmon return for some open-ocean angling. Fresh fish you caught yourself is the perfect addition to that beach bonfire or summer BBQ. In British Columbia, the most sought-after angling is catching salmon in the open ocean. It provides the trill of being miles offshore, the challenge of ocean swell (at times), and some of the most epic, screaming reels and fighting fish. Here are some of the best places to salmon fish in B.C.:
- Winter Harbour
- Haida Gwaii
Ucluelet is often considered the best of the best when it comes to landing big chinook, and having the opportunity for other great catches like coho, halibut and lingcod. Plus, it's convenient to get to compared to other destinations. If you want a charter for the west coast, check out www.salmoneye.net.
Whale watching is easily one of the top things to do in British Columbia – what an incredible thing to be able to go do! Not only do B.C.’s waters see a healthy population of humpback whales and gray whales, but the orca whales located in the Juan de Fuca Strait are some of the best studied in the entire world. Besides whales, you’re likely to spot tons of other west coast creatures such as Dahl’s porpoises, dolphins, sea otters, seals, sea lions and plenty of marine birds, too. The best thing about whale watching, is that although it is a fantastic summer activity, you can actually do it nearly year-round. Depending on where you are in B.C., you'll be able to see a variety of the coast's whale species. Want to know more about the whales? Check out this great resource.
With so many incredible bodies of water, kayaking (and canoeing) is a fantastic summer activity. There are numerous outfitters in the province that will show you the ropes, and plenty that will rent you everything you need to enjoy a relaxed paddle. Whether you’re exploring fresh water destinations, tackling a white-water adventure, or are enjoying an ocean paddle, kayaking offers you a dose of sun, fun and exercise all in one! Vancouver Island is one of the top destinations for kayaking British Columbia, and Ucluelet is a great place to do it. The Broken Group Islands, just outside of the Ucluelet Harbour, consist of over one hundred islands and islets, which are a blast to explore by boat. You can even make a multi-day excursion out of it, camping on some of the islands and truly enjoying Barkley Sound. Learn more about kayaking in Ucluelet at this website: www.ucluelet-info.com.
Thanks to its incredible mountain ranges, British Columbia is a top-notch mountain biking destination. In fact, it’s one of the top things to do in numerous cities across the province. No matter your level, there will be a place offering the best trail for your needs. Whistler even puts on a massive, mountain biking competition known as Crankworx in the summer. The mountain biking towns often offer a quirky, laid-back atmosphere and are fun for a visit, even if you don’t bike. If bustling mountains like Whistler aren't appealing, the area of Cumberland on Vancouver Island is a great go-to. It's a smaller town, with plenty of quirks and, most importantly, an incredible variety of trails. It's a go to on Vancouver Island for mountain bikers of all levels, and the various tracks are surrounded by incredible scenery, but not the crowds. Learn more about Cumberland by clicking on this link: www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/north-central/cumberland/.
Have you ever noticed a VQA section in a liquor store? Or that many of Canada’s wines have labels boasting a British Columbia origin? B.C. is a major wine-producing province, which means that wine tours and tasting is a top thing to do. Summer is a wonderful time to explore the various vineyards, as guests can take full advantage of sun, exploring the winery, and if they offer it, enjoying lunch on an onsite restaurant and patio. It’s a classy, enjoyable way to spend the day and it gives you a true taste of British Columbia. Over three hundred licensed wineries exist in British Columbia across five regions, with a number of other regions starting to grow. Most famous is, of course, the Okanagan Valley. Most of the wineries reside in its hills. Close by is the Similkameen Valley. With two burgeoning wine regions, it's not surprise that Kelowna a hotspot for wine lovers. Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island has a surprising amount of wineries thanks to its temperate climate. Close to forty wineries reside there. The last two regions are the Gulf Islands and the Fraser Valley.
Here are some of the top wineries in B.C.:
- Road 13 Vineyards - Oliver, B.C.
- La Frenz Estate Winery - Penticton, B.C.
- Church and State Wines - Brentwood Bay, B.C.
- Burrowing Owl Estate Winery- Oliver, B.C.
- Lake Breeze Vineyards - Naramata, B.C.
- Gray Monk Estate Winery - Lake Country, B.C.
- Quails' Gate Winery - Kelowna, B.C.
- Meyer Family Vineyards - Okanagan Falls, B.C.
- Hester Creek Estate Winery - Oliver, B.C.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery - Oliver, B.C.
The Okanagan Valley is known for its incredible bounty of fresh fruit. It just so happens that the prime picking time for tasty treats like cherries, peaches and apricots falls in the summer! As you drive through the province, you'll be treated to the site of pop-up fruit stands heavy with fresh fruit, and numerous U-Pick farms where you can spend the afternoon in the sun loading up on your favourite fruits. Somehow, summer isn't complete without the fresh, sticky juice of a perfectly ripe, summer fruit dripping from your fingers as you take a bite.
BC Parks does a great job maintaining stunning campgrounds throughout the province where visitors can pitch a tent, park a trailer and truly enjoy the great outdoors. Outside of the provincial campgrounds, there are numerous other campgrounds; many at stunning locations that offer a number of these top things to do. British Columbia is known for its unparalleled nature – what better way to experience it than by being surrounded by it twenty-four-seven?
If the whole, outdoor-summer-physical activity thing isn’t quite your cup of tea, there’s one more activity that British Columbia excels at: Patio Season. With a great love for fine, fresh food and wonderful beverages, you’re bound to find a fantastic patio to soak up some rays. With a perfectly brewed B.C. beer, or wine in hand, you can enjoy British Columbia and the outdoors by digging into a farm-to-table feast. Even the wet west coast sees a healthy dose of sunshine in the summer, and locals make sure to take full advantage of it. Victoria, B.C. is a great spot to celebrate patio season, as the city is said to have more restaurants per capital than almost anywhere else in North America. Check out more about the capital of British Columbia at this website.