Howe Sound walking

It's easy to experience the many recreational activities Howe Sound offers. (Photo: Kris Krug)

There are many things to do and to see in Howe Sound. Some are an hour’s drive or less from Vancouver and many are accessible by public transit. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Connect to water. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the province can be seen from public transport in the waters of Howe Sound. A 30-minute BC Ferries ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver can take you to the Sunshine Coast or Bowen Island. You may even see marine life on the way!
  • Walk and hike on Gambier Island. Gambier is the largest island in Howe Sound, yet many people are unaware of it. You can get to the community of New Brighton on Gambier with BC Ferries as a walk-on ferry passenger leaving from Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. From New Brighton, choose a nature walk along the roads. You can also take a water taxi, such as Cormorant or Mercury, from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Camp Fircom in Halkett Bay, where you can hike up Mt. Artaban. As a bonus, your water taxi drivers know the area like the back of their hand, and are a wealth of information!
  • Experience the arts. Brackendale Art Gallery in the community of Brackendale just north of Squamish houses exhibits, concerts, theatre performances and workshops with local and visiting artists. They also serve homemade food in their café.
  • Explore by kayak. Howe Sound is full of islands and islets to explore by kayak. It’s not unusual to see wildlife such as seabirds and marine mammals. You can rent a kayak and do your own exploring or go on a tour through local businesses such as Talaysay Tours, operated by the Shíshálh First Nation, and Bowen Island Kayaking.
  • Learn about First Nations’ culture. The Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre in Whistler is run by the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation to preserve their cultures and share them with others. The centre offers exhibits, art galleries, guided tours, workshops and a café.
  • Take a guided walk with a naturalist. Talaysay Tours offers hiking and snowshoeing tours of Tetrahedron Provincial Park. Moonstone Enterprises does natural history and educational walks throughout the Sunshine Coast.
  • Educate your child in nature. The Sea to Sky Outdoor School offers nature-based programs for children and youth.
  • Go to market. Farmers’ markets are a great place to take the kids, meet local people, get fresh local groceries for the week, listen to live music and, of course, eat! The Squamish Farmers’ Market operates year-round, every Saturday in the summer and alternate Saturdays in the winter. The Gibsons Farmers’ Market takes place on Fridays from May to October. The Whistler Farmers’ Market starts its season in June. Bowen Island’s Summer Market runs on weekends from June to September.
  • Take a ride up the mountain. Looking for some spectacular views of the Howe Sound area without the hike? The Sea to Sky Gondola is accessible for all mobility levels and leads to a number of accessible and backcountry trails.
  • Get active in Squamish. Squamish is a hub for outdoor activities such as canoeing, eagle viewing, fishing, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, rafting, rock climbing, sailing, snowshoeing, sightseeing, tobogganing and wind surfing. Take your pick!
  • Scuba dive. Howe Sound boasts some spectacular dive sites. Get close to marine life at Bowyer Island, and sunken wrecks at Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park and Whytecliff Park Marine Protected Area. Educate yourself about protected areas such as Rockfish Conservation Areas, respect wildlife and dive only according to your skill level.

Public transport from Vancouver to Squamish and Whistler is offered by Pacific Coach Lines and Greyhound Bus Canada. The Squamish Transit System has a few bus routes within Squamish and between Squamish and Whistler.