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Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

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Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

1. When is the best time of year to visit Vancouver for whale watching, bear/wildlife tours?

2. Would like to take a day tour to Whistler, a wildlife tour another day, a whale watching tour, visit Granville Island and possibly Vancouver Island. Would it be practical to make my home base in Vancouver?

3. I will be flying into Vancouver. Would it be practical to make my home base in Vancouver?

4. I would prefer not to have to rent a car. What would be the best way to get from the airport to Vancouver and what would be the approximate cost?

5. Also looking for suggestions for any other places of interest, such as scenic drives, scenic walks.

Thanks!

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1. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

September just after the kids are in school. Overnight in Whistler and look for bears there. You can get a whale watch out of Vancouver.

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2. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Airport to downtown is a $35 taxi or a $9 train. Top questions on the non-mobile page lists hotels near the train.

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3. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Thank you. I am traveling solo and would rather not drive so I can enjoy the ride. Assuming I do drive, how long is the drive and what is there to do once I get to Whistler?

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New Jersey
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4. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Thanks. Is it worth it to rent a car while in Vancouver? My guess is because it's a big size, public transportation is convenient?

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5. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Lots of shuttle and tour options to Whistler, which is very walkable (stay in the Village, not over at Creekside if you don't have a car). A car is a serious liability in Vancouver. Don't want or need one. Transit and shoe leather will get you where you need to go.

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6. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Take Epic Ride to Whistler, 2 hours express shuttle, no wifi, no lavatory on board.

www.epicride.com

Whistler has a tourism website: https://www.whistler.com/

The Peak to Peak gondola across the 4 km valley in 11 min starts restricting their hours come September. Google will let you know what those Peak to Peak operating hours if you enter those words.

For scenic in Vancouver, spend time around the harbour and the seawall.

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7. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Hi Eileen,

I've copied questions below and then answered below:

1. When is the best time of year to visit Vancouver for whale watching, bear/wildlife tours?

May to October is whale watching season in Vancouver, with July, August, and September being the absolute best months for orcas because that's when there are three distinct pods (large groups) of orcas, as opposed to the regular one pod that lives here year round.

There aren't any bear tours out of Vancouver. The closest bear watching tour company is located in Whistler, a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver in the Coast Mountains. Those tours go to see black bears, and May to October is also the best time for that too. If you want to see bears in Vancouver, with exception to lucky sightings on the outskirts of town (where suburbia carves into the rainforest), you can buy a ticket to get to the top of Grouse Mountain, and there are two rescued/orphaned Grizzly bears who live happily in a natural enclosure there and are well-cared for. (They would not have survived if left in the wild).

2. Would like to take a day tour to Whistler, a wildlife tour another day, a whale watching tour, visit Granville Island and possibly Vancouver Island. Would it be practical to make my home base in Vancouver?

Yes and no.

A day tour to Whistler is totally possible. It's a 90-minute drive one way, although most tours make stops along the way. But yes, this is an easy day trip.

Whale watching out of Vancouver, absolutely can be done. That will eat up a good chunk of one day. Those tours at the minimum take 3 hours in length. Some go as late as 5 hours and others stay out even later!

Granville Island (a peninsula, not technically a real island anymore) is basically right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. You can hop on a water taxi from the south side of downtown and be at Granville Island 2 minutes later. Granville Island's the kind of place you can visit for a morning or an afternoon, depending on how much you like to poke around in shops and galleries and markets. 1-2 hours is usually sufficient.

As for Vancouver Island, well... it's probably a lot larger than you're imaginging it to be. It's easily a two-week destination on its own. You can certainly do a day trip to Victoria, the largest city on Vancouver Island, and a lot of tour companies offer those tours. But it takes at least 3-4 hours just to get from Vancouver to Victoria, so it's at least 8 hours of transportation. So if you're okay with spending 14 hours of your day on a tour, go for it. If you'd prefer to poke around Victoria on your own time, I'd splurge on a seaplane and take Harbour Air from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria, as it's a 35 minute flight and gives you the full day to explore Victoria. Even then, you're really only going to be scratching the surface of what Victoria has to offer, and you'll only have explored a fraction of Vancouver Island. Doing a day trip to Vancouver Island from Vancouver is like doing a day trip to Massachusetts from New York City. Sure, you can take the train for 4 hours and arrive in Boston, poke around Boston for a few hours and return back to NYC, but it's almost better as a separate destination.

3. I will be flying into Vancouver. Would it be practical to make my home base in Vancouver?

Yes, depending on how much time you have and how much time you wish to spend on Vancouver Island.

4. I would prefer not to have to rent a car. What would be the best way to get from the airport to Vancouver and what would be the approximate cost?

Vancouver has banned Uber. This leaves you with a taxi, which costs $35 Canadian, or the Canada Line, our rapid transit train - a skytrain/subway hybrid that takes you directly from the airport to downtown Vancouver in about 25 minutes (with about 10-12 other stops in between). The Canada Line is cheaper... they tack on an airport fee when you leave the airport so it's about $9 Canadian. (All prices in Canada are in Canadian currency, by the way).

Once in Vancouver, you don't really need a car. Parking is expensive, free parking is almost non-existent, and there is so much pedestrian and bike lane infrastructure, it's really more efficient to walk, cycle, or use public transit, especially in the tiny downtown core.

5. Also looking for suggestions for any other places of interest, such as scenic drives, scenic walks.

Stanley Park

The Seawall

Lynn Canyon

Museum of Anthropology

Kitsilano Beach

Lighthouse Park

Queen Elizabeth Park

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Edited: 13 June 2018, 10:45
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New Jersey
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8. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Thank you all for your prompt and very informative replies. The information is of great help to me to start planning.

New Jersey
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9. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Thank you so much for your reply. It is much appreciated and gives me a good head start in planning my trip.

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10. Re: Questions Regarding First Time Visit to Vancouver

Just starting to gather ideas for our planned trip next June - will be watching this thread with interest. Thanks for starting it Eileen, and to all the wonderful DE's - very grateful for your time and knowledge.

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