An English course in Vancouver isn’t all about the hours you spend in the classroom. Here are some of our favourite things in and around the city:
It’s worth stopping for a minute during a walk along Stanley Park’s Seawall, just to take it all in. In front of you, over the still water of the Burrard Inlet, Vancouver’s iconic skyline twinkles. The trees behind you reflect the season: the leaves are a lush green in the spring and summer, golden in the autumn and covered in that legendary, fluffy Canadian snow during the winter. Around you, roller-bladers, cyclists and joggers pound the paths, but tranquillity is never far away.
Named after Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada when the park was officially opened in 1888, the park is where Vancouverites come to relax, exercise and enjoy the natural beauty of a city dedicated to becoming the world’s greenest by 2020. Stanley Park is a glorious urban park, where the boundaries of city and country melt into one another.
The 8.8km Seawall that runs around the edge of the park is only one attraction. Stop for a picnic at Third Beach, meet the eponymous residents at Beaver Lake and marvel at the solemnity of Siwash Rock. According to Squamish legend, the rock was formed "as an indestructible monument to Clean Fatherhood" when Skalsh the Unselfish was petrified as a reward for his good behaviour. You can learn more about native culture at the beautiful totem pole display area at Brockton Point.
Vancouver doesn’t just offer an excellent quality of life for humans, but for marine mammals too. Between March and October, thousands of whales migrate through the sea near Vancouver, including gray whales, minke whales, humpback whales and, most beloved of all, orcas. The black and white giants usually arrive in May and can be seen throughout the summer, with the later months especially good. Watching the hubbub that accompanies feeding time in the Johnson Strait is a memorable experience.
If you want to get even closer to Vancouver’s marine life, the local aquarium runs sleepovers where you can learn all about the resident sharks, whales and dolphins and then fall asleep in one of the spectacular marine galleries. Find out more at www.vanaqua.org.
With so much water around the city, Vancouver is a great place to try watersports:
Raft among the salmon on the Thompson, Elaho, Nahatlatch, Squamish or Chilliwack Rivers and get your blood pumping.
Kayak along from Deep Cove along the Indian Arm fjord, which stretches 30km into the mountains north of the city. The Burrard Inlet is also popular with sea kayakers – a tradition that goes back to before colonisation.
Windsurf at English Bay or Jericho beach, where you can hire equipment and take lessons.
Check your scuba gear, zip up your wetsuit, and plunge into the chilly waters of Vancouver Bay to meet diverse species of fish, octopus and coral. Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay and Cates Park in Deep Cove are two of the most popular diving sites, especially for beginners. Legend has it that there are still sunken treasures to be found off the Malaspina Strait... but maybe you should find your sea legs first.
You don’t have to travel far out of downtown Vancouver before the landscape becomes very different. Head through North Shore and explore the lush, dense forests around Lake Capilano. Walk over the legendary, 70 metre-long suspension bridge and look down at the canyon below if you dare. Keep going further north: 1200m tall Grouse Mountain is relatively easy to climb and offers a superb panoramic view of the city (you can also take a gondola which accommodates skiers in the winter).
Adventurers will keep going further. The rainforest decks the rolling foothills of the Pacific Ranges; bears roam and eagles fly overhead. Eventually, British Columbia’s legendary high peaks appear on the horizon. Whistler Blackcomb is probably North America’s finest winter sports region and lies just 120km from downtown Vancouver. Go snowboarding and skiing in the winter, hiking and kayaking the summer... just enjoy the best of unspoilt Canada. Find out more about our English courses in Whistler Blackcomb
As well as being one of Vancouver’s most-photographed monuments, the giant, golf-ball like structure at Science World has a secret within: an OMNIMAX cinema screen. The projection engulfs visitors, showing natural history films in huge dimensions. Elsewhere in the science park, you can get up close and personal with the human body at the BodyWorks exhibition and enjoy a number of other exhibitions. Learn English in Vancouver
and lots more besides!
TELUS World of Science is open 10am-5pm Mondays-Fridays, and 10am-6pm, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Find out more at www.scienceworld.ca