Canada is home to plenty of gorgeous, distinctly Canadian travel destinations that are often forgotten when the long weekend comes around. With Canada Day just around the corner, why not celebrate this beautiful country by visiting some unique locations for some bucket-list-worthy adventures? Travel expert Loren Christie has voyaged across the country, and brought us some highlights that would make for a phenomenal Canada Day celebration.
Snorkeling with salmon
About 3.5 hour drive from Victoria up the east coast, Campbell River on Vancouver is a truly hidden gem. From July 20th through to the end of October, the rivers on the eastern side of Vancouver Island are teeming with hundreds of thousands of Pacific salmon. Destiny River Adventures gives you an up-close and personal look at this natural phenomenon – you put on a wet suit and snorkel gear, and plunge face first into the water and let the current do the work.
While the rapids might be considered relatively calm for rafters, as a snorkeler it’s exhilarating to fly down the river, undulating over the rocks and having giant salmon darting around you as they battle up-stream to lay their eggs.
Grizzly bear tour
The annual salmon run provides a buffet for the local bear population, and so Discovery Marine Safaris offers a full day Grizzly Bear Expedition, which takes eager bear watchers by boat up Bute Inlet to Orford Bay, home to the Homalco First Nations people. Then, you board a bus and go to tree house-like watching posts. Grizzly Bear watching starts September 1, and a full day tour is $449 for adults.
Corilair’s historic mail flight brings tourists along as they deliver the post to four small communities on the neighbouring Discovery Islands in a six-seater 1954 DeHavilland DHC-6 Beaver floatplane. You can chat with the locals in communities like Refuge Cove, population six, with its weather worn wharves and verdant green forest. Book now, because there are not many seats, and it fills up fast!
Climb Mount Norquay’s Via Ferrata! It means iron road in Italian, but this is a Canadian adventure. You can also check out the mountains around Banff – led by guides, you can pick 4 different routes, varying in time (2.5 to 6 hours), and difficulty. Climb ladders, cross suspension bridges, and other exciting adventures! Participants have to be a minimum of 12 years old on two of the routes and 14 on the other two, so this is not for young kids! You need to book in advance – click here!
White water rafting
White water rafting on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia is incredible. Unlike anywhere else in the world, you are aren’t going over rapids – you are literally fighting versus the growing tide. Over 160 billion tonnes of water move in and out of the Bay of Fundy, every day, twice a day – the highest recorded tides in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.You literally see the rapids rise around as the tide pushes back against the river. Watch for the tidal bore, the leading wave in the incoming water from the Bay of Fundy, and watch as it reverses the flow of the river which will send you cascading through 8 to 12+ foot tall white-capped rapids back down the river.
A number of different outfitters run tours that include mud sliding down the river banks. New this year, you can buy packages that include cottage, lobster boil and rum tasting.
Ferryland lighthouse picnic
For those who want a “low key” adventure, try this! An hour out of St. John’s Newfoundland, head to Ferryland and enjoy a 30 minute hike out to ocean views and the Lighthouse. There, you can pick up a homemade picnic complete with killer lemonade. They give you a blanket to enjoy as you enjoy your picnic and watch the Atlantic Ocean.
The federal government has put money and effort toward growing Indigenous tourism, and it’s important to try out an adventure that celebrates and educates on this truly uniquely Canadian experience, whatever it may be. One suggestion is the Great Spirit Circle Tour on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island, which offers a variety of cultural adventures like canoeing with a local guide, who explains the history and legends of the area.