This post by Margo Pfeiff originally appeared on the Hello BC website.
Everyone’s idea of a once-in-a lifetime trip is different. It’s personal. After all, you’re opening your wallet wider than usual so you want pampering and a highly memorable experience based on your passions. These sorts of British Columbia holidays come by the plenty.
For some, bliss is watching wildlife up close or luxury small-craft cruising around mystical rainforest islands. Action seekers might crave helicopter skiing or heli-hiking amid towering peaks. And what’s not to love about riding the rails and sipping bubbly amid spectacular scenery?
Diverse British Columbia offers so many choices. Here’s a few more to add to your champagne bucket list.
On the ocean
Cruising Northern BC’s islands of Haida Gwaii is as good as it gets. The province’s 25,725 kilometres of coastline are teeming with whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and seabirds, but nowhere more than in Haida Gwaii. Cultural as well as natural, Bluewater Adventures’ 70-foot yacht expeditions explore lush rainforest where rare Haida mortuary poles stand among abandoned village sites. Maple Leaf Adventures allows you to visit Haida Gwaii on a leisurely sailing ship or a restored 1912 tugboat. Kayak into coves, hike to historical ruins, and tour First Nations sites with local Haida Watchmen while your on-board chef prepares freshly caught shellfish and seafood for dinner.
In coastal forests
Wolves; grizzly, black, and rare white spirit bears; orcas and humpbacks. Moss-carpeted, primeval, and remote, the biologically diverse Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s biggest intact temperate rainforest. Most resorts work with knowledgeable local First Nations to enhance the experience. Many luxury eco-lodges “float” alongside the shore and are accessible by boat, helicopter, or float plane.
Great Bear Tours on Vancouver Island is an intimate 10-guest resort nestled at the mouth of a pristine salmon river. Knight Inlet Lodge is a premier grizzly bear viewing hideaway with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Their scenic Knight Inlet cruise visits remote waterfalls plummeting from cliff faces where ancient glaciers have carved dramatic paths. Farewell Harbour Lodge is a West Coast-inspired luxury waterfront retreat in Broughton Archipelago, BC’s largest marine park renowned for its orca population.
Iconic, family-owned Nimmo Bay resort —which has a waterfall running through the resort—began offering heli-fishing for enthusiastic anglers. Fly-fishers are swooped into remote fishing holes teeming with salmon. It’s also a luxury wilderness adventure base renowned for spoiling its guests.
In the mountains
Swooping up amid jagged peaks and granite spires by helicopter to ski virgin powder is actually a BC-based invention by the founder of CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, which has several far-flung, decadent winter heli-skiing and summer heli-hiking retreats in mountainous southeastern BC. Some, like the comfortably casual-luxury Cariboos Lodge even offer Family Adventure packages so that kids too can learn to make turns in champagne powder while mum and dad head off to tackle gnarlier slopes.
At the head of a fjord on central BC’s coast just an hour’s flight north of Vancouver, Tweedsmuir Park Lodge and Bella Coola Heli Sports is vast, easy-access heli-skiing terrain. Stay in private timber chalet luxury near two wild rivers amid the Great Bear Rainforest near Bella Coola. There’s even summer heli-skiing on nearby glaciers—carve turns in the morning and reel in a salmon in the afternoon.
On the rails
Winding on several routes across BC, past waterfalls and over towering bridges towards the breathtaking Rockies, the Rocky Mountaineer is rolling rail luxury with glass-ceiling dome cars, white linen local gourmet cuisine, and BC wines.
Or, pull out all the stops and charter an entire train for a Rocky Mountain circuit on board the vintage Royal Canadian Pacific. With a fleet of vintage, beautifully restored 1920s business cars that once transported Winston Churchill, King George VI, and US President Roosevelt, you and a group of friends can re-live the rare, ultimate luxury of early train travel.
British Columbia can make your wildest once-in-a-lifetime trip dreams come true.