Wellness Getaway in Victoria

Looking for a wellness-filled weekend? May I suggest heading to Victoria, BC?

Victoria is just a quick 30-minute flight away from downtown Vancouver via Harbour Air. Harbour Air is without a doubt the loveliest and most convenient way to travel to the island. With a quick check-in process, a relaxing lounge where you can obtain free coffee, tea and pastries, traveling with this local company always makes you feel VIP. The flight views are also comparable to none. On this most recent trip to Victoria, it had just snowed for the first time this year, allowing for the most stunning views of the islands and surrounding mountains.

Once in Victoria, there is such a wide-variety of things to enjoy for wellness enthusiasts.

Outdoor Activities

Discover some of the most amazing local trails and scenery with Rainforest Tours, a local touring company operated by the lovely Toni Chalk. She is the most insightful and knowledgeable tour guide, who will pack you an amazing lunch and take you on some incredible expeditions. The Mystic Beach hike on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a great way to get introduced to the many kms of trails along the coast.

Another great area for outdoor adventuring is around the Westin Bear Mountain Resort. The resort offers a Hiker’s Reprieve Experience, which combines a guided hike through the Goldstream Provincial Park (where Canada’s mountain bike team trains!) followed by their signature Elements Mountain Massage at the Sante Spa Victoria. The treatment includes a clearing sage smudge, foot scrub and purifying foot bath before getting a full-body massage with B.C. Jade stones and essential oils. Truly the most relaxing and soothing experience. Following the massage, you can use the spa’s facilities – steam room, sauna and mineral pool at your leisure. They also offer snacks, tea and water plus there’s a full food menu to choose from after your treatment.

Relaxation

After all of this adventuring, it’s important to be able to retreat to a calm and quiet place. The Inn at Laurel Point is located right on the waterfront in downtown Victoria. It is the only carbon neutral hotel in British Columbia and one of only a handful across Canada. The hotel has luxurious amenities including beautiful decks for each room, you also have access to their outdoor gardens, fitness room and pool. Their restaurant AURA serves up local and organic dishes. Their hotel rooms are spacious, inviting and beautifully designed. The marble bathroom and soak tub is a perfect spot to relax after a busy day of exploring.

Healthy Eats

The city of Victoria is one of the best cities in the entire country for healthy eats. They have so much choice when it comes to plant-based restaurants or general healthy eating. Local must-visits include Be Love, Superbaba, JUSU, Rebar, Bliss and Nourish. Nourish has become a recent favourite thanks to the meticulously crafted dishes they serve at brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s impossible to not fall in love with this cute restaurant and café, located in a Victorian house in downtown Victoria.

There are tons of other wellness-inspired things to do in and around Victoria, whether it’s going for tea at the Terroir Tea Salon, going on a bike tour with The Pedaler or simply walking around downtown and in some of their beautiful parks by the waterfront. It’s so incredibly easy to have a wellness-packed weekend while in Victoria. You will go home feeling energized and ready to take on whatever the week throws at you!

A big thank you to Tourism Victoria for setting up this visit. I hope you’ll enjoy the little recap video of my wellness adventures below!

5 Workouts Worth Checking Out in LA

Planning a trip to LA soon and want to stay active while in the area? I share some of my favourite local workouts that will keep you sweating while on the go!

1) Barry’s Bootcamp – There are now 3 Barry’s Bootcamp located across the greater Los Angeles area. They offer a variety of classes, ranging from full-body workouts to leg or arm specific-classes. Half of the workout happens on the treadmill and the other half will have you working on different muscle groups from the floor with free weight and bodyweight exercises. Their easy circuit keeps you on your toes the entire hour. Their post-workout smoothie bar is also a great post-workout treat.

2) Flywheel – Their latest LA location just opened up a few months ago in downtown Santa Monica. Unlike other spin studios, the Flywheel studio is set up like an auditorium and the workout is based on RPMs and TORQ. The instructor will give riders suggestions of where they would like them to be during each song. There are two tv monitors at the front of the class that will show riders how they’re doing throughout the class (if they choose to register a profile) and will also throw in a few 30-second challenges throughout the class. Always one of the hardest spin classes.

3) Playlist Yoga – Located in West Hollywood, this small yoga studio revolves around creating the perfect hip hop and pop playlist for a Vinyasa Flow. Playlist Yoga is a candle lit yoga practice that includes lots of planks, downward dogs and warrior poses that will get you sweating. Though there are no showers or many amenities provided in the studio, each locker and studio quote was carefully curated to match the studio’s hip hop aesthetic.

4) BoxUnion – Also located in Santa Monica, BoxUnion is a trendy boxing studio offers boxing enthusiasts or the curious seeking a new fitness experience, the chance to glove up and throw a few 1-2 punch combos. Think of it like SoulCycle but for boxing, as in working out to the beat of the music. The 45-minute class is a great workout for cardio because it involves lots of dynamic body movements and +2000 punches per class.

5) SpeedPlay – One of the most talked about workout spots in downtown LA that boasts incredible city line views from their rooftop studio. SpeedPlay offers a variety of 45 or 60-minute workouts, some also include a special strength, glutes or ab portion. They incorporate running, rowing and a floor workout to create a great full-body workout. Watch for their second location opening up in West Hollywood soon!

Discovering the Backeddy Resort & Marina

The sunshine coast is an incredibly beautiful area of British Columbia. Located just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver, it’s popularity with locals comes as no surprise with it’s beautiful beaches, array of lakes and pristine nature.

The Backeddy Resort & Marina is located in Egmont, which is just under 3hrs away from Vancouver. It is a beautiful and secluded property that offers all sorts of lodging and activity options for visitors. Their latest and most Instagram-worthy accommodations are their new Geodesic Domes. These unique glamping-like domes are located right on the waterfront.

The 5 domes come complete with a bay window, a queen sized bed, small indoor sitting area (perfect for your morning breakfast!) as well as blankets and heaters for the colder months. There is also an outdoor sitting area and table to enjoy a snack or relax while sipping a glass of wine or cold beer and letting the beautiful sights sink in.

You also have access to the resort’s bathroom and showers located just a few short steps away from the domes.

In addition to their domes, they also offer vintage cabins, waterfront cabins as well as Inn rooms and waterfront RV sites, so something for everyone!

On-property, you can also find a delicious restaurant and pub called the Backeddy Pub that serves up tasty food from local suppliers, prepared daily by their chef.

If you’re into exploring and adventuring, there are lots to do right at the resort. They offer, SUP, kayak and even bike rentals. They also offer a handful of guided tours with Metta Eco-Experiences, such as a Harbour Seal Tour, an Inlet Explorer Tour, Harmony Islands Tour as well as a Bioluminescence Tour in the evening.

There are tons of local hiking and running trails located nearby, the main attraction being the Skookumchuk Narrows Provincial Park, where twice a day, you can hike to the Skookumchuk Narrows observation points to watch the waves and whirlpools. It’s an easy 45 minute hike there and back. There is lots of incredible sea life to see while at the Narrows.

Their friendly staff is available at all-times to give you all of the local recommendations you’ll need during your stay. There are lots of other activities that are a short walk or drive away from the resort, so enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. Plus, if you’re just looking for a quiet area to retreat to, this is THE place to do it!

For more info on the Backeddy Resort & Marina or their Geodesic Domes, go here.

 

5 Things to do in Palm Springs

Traveling to Palm Springs and looking for new activities to do while in the area? I’ve got you covered. The greater Palm Springs area offers such a wide variety of activities that there’s something for everyone! This was my 5th trip to the area and I always find new things to do. Here are my latest recommendations.

1) Pioneertown – Located just a quick drive from downtown Palm Springs via route 62, Pioneertown is an old live-in film set dating back to the 1940s that has now been transformed into a tourist attraction. The area was incredibly well kept and though a little small, is worth the trek. They’ve got a few shop as well as a bar and restaurant where you can stop in if you’re in need of a snack.

2) Tahquitz Canyon – This hidden gem is a stone’s throw away from downtown Palm Springs. Tahquitz Canyon is a very well kept secret in the city and rightfully so. This beautiful canyon has been around for 1500+ years and is part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. There is a beautiful 2 mile hike that leads to a 60 foot waterfall right in the middle of the canyon. You have to pay a small fee to walk on the trail but they also have a visitor centre with exhibits and information about local archeological finds, etc.

3) Native Foods Café – Around since 1994, Native Foods Café provides delicious and quality plant-based meals in a cafeteria style low-key restaurant in Palm Springs. Whether you’re craving a bowl, sandwich, burger or salad, they’ve got a wide variety of tasty eats to choose from. Though originally from Palm Springs, they’ve had so much success that they’ve expanded to several other locations across the Southern United States.

4) Off Road Rentals – If you’ve driven into Palm Springs before, you’ve probably noticed Off Road Rentals, located on the right of the highway 111 heading into town. This family-run business has been around since the late 80s. You can rent one of their 4-speed quads and drive up and down their huge sand dunes. It’s an amazing time for anyone wanting a little adventure. Depending on how busy the course is, they may even give you some free riding time!

5) Mt. San Jacinto – One of the greatest finds in all of Southern California. Mt. San Jacinto can be accessed via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (at $25+ a round trip!). It’s a quick 10 min ride up or for those wanting an extra challenge, you can also hike up the 10,000 ft mountain and just got a one-way down. Once at the Mountain Station, you can refuel or pack snacks and explore some of their 50+ miles of trails at the top. The trails offers some of the most stunning views of the desert, valley and high country forest.

 

Go Snorkeling with Seals at the Subsea Retreat in British Columbia

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by marine life. There was even a period of time in my life where I considered studying marine biology, but that ambition quickly faded when I reached high school, due to my poor grades in science. That said, my passion for all-things water-related, has remained over the years.

So when I heard of the Subsea Retreat, out of Sidney, British Columbia, I immediately contacted them. This family-run eco-tour allows ocean enthusiasts like myself, to realize their lifelong dreams of snorkeling or even scuba diving with local seals and other marine creatures. The retreat is run by Jack Madro, who has over 35-years of scuba diving and tour organization experience, Pam and also his daughter Amanda Madro, who is a biochemist, a boat captain and an all-around inspiring woman who is passionate about ocean wildlife. Each bring their many years of diverse experience together to create not only a fun and safe retreat but also give you a ton of information on the area and the local marine life.

What’s great about the Subsea Retreat is that they offer different types of excursions for people of all-ages as well as skill levels. I had personally never gone scuba diving before, hence why I opted for snorkeling. Additionally, they have all the gear necessary for their excursions, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything with you. You will be able to try on all the equipment with Jack by your side. The family will then bring you out on the water with their own private boat and make sure you are fully comfortable the entire duration of the excursion.

Sidney, is just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver (only 1h40 mins, and the retreat is a 5min drive from the ferry terminal!) or a quick 30min drive from Victoria. While you’re out in Sidney, you’ll be able to stay at their beautiful home that contains several private rooms, a large dining room and living room as well as outdoor deck, BBQ and pool, all located on a beautiful and quiet property. In between excursions, you can really kick-back and relax, you may also see hummingbirds, eagles or even deer while you’re lounging outside.

In addition to snorkeling or scuba diving, there are tons of other activities you can do while you’re staying at the Subsea Retreat such as hiking, SUPing, swimming, there are also lots of cafés, restaurants, farms and even wineries to check out in the area. The family gives great local tips on where to go, if you’re on the hunt for some additional activities.

I couldn’t believe that in just one afternoon, I got to cross two things off of my bucket list: I snorkeled with seals and also got to see a local pod of transient killer whales swim by the boat. I had such a wonderful time with the family that I’m already planning my return. Below is a little recap vlog of my adventures at the Subsea Retreat.

For more information on the Subsea Retreat, go here.

A major thank you to Toyota Canada, for allowing me to test out the 2018 Toyota C-HR during this trip!

5 things to do in Osoyoos

Osoyoos is one of the hottest places in Canada, literally! Located just 4 hours from Vancouver, this desert-like region is well worth the visit. Check out my 5 things to do in the area below!

1) Visit the Nk’ Mip cultural centre – If you’re headed to Osoyoos, you’ll want to reserve a few hours for the Nk’ Mip cultural centre, located right near downtown Osoyoos. Run by the Osoyoos Indian Band, the cultural centre offers lots of great learning experiences via interactive presentations of song, dance, wildlife exhibits, etc. They have exhibits both inside and outside, sharing the history of their people, the land, the language, etc. You can also hike through some of their trails that start off right at the centre.

2) Eat at Dolci Deli – This trendy looking café is where you’ll want to go for homemade lunch and dinner. The Dolci Deli serves up tasty dishes using local ingredients and offer a variety of vegan as well as gluten-free options. They have a beautiful outdoor patio and vintage-inspired bar and dining room. The staff is also incredibly friendly and the food is reasonably priced.

3) Swim in Osoyoos Lake – Known for its warm water, the Osoyoos Lake is one of the main attractions in the region. Its sandy bottom and long beach area, offers beachgoers plenty of area to set up for a long day of lakeside fun. If you’re also into SUPing, kayaking or even wake boarding, there are lots of places to rent equipment from and where you can organize water adventures!

4) Go for breakfast at JoJo’s Café – This local hotspot is where you’ll want to go to start off your day. JoJo’s Café is a great place for coffee, breakfast and also to work as they have some free wifi and lots of seating options inside and out. They even have some yummy homemade vegan muesli!

5) Watch the sunset from a winery – The area is filled with a handful of wineries. With the hot arid climate in the area, the Osoyoos region is able to produce a lot of the heavier reds that other areas of the province or even country cannot. One of the best spots to watch the sunset, while sipping on some delicious wine is from the Nk’ Mip Cellars‘ outdoor lounge area. You can order a flight of wine as well as one of their boards and watch as the sun sets over the lake and valley.

5 Things to do on Salt Spring Island

If you’re looking for a great weekend getaway idea for the summer or fall, try out Salt Spring Island. It’s just a quick 90 min ferry ride from Vancouver. Check my top 5 things to do in Salt Spring Island below.

1) Visit the Saturday market – The Saturday market is a great way to start off a weekend trip to Salt Spring Island. Whether you’re a fan of crafts, jewelry, handmade goodies or delicious fresh organic produce and homemade snacks, you’ll want to stop by the market during the day. It starts early in the morning and lasts until mid-afternoon. There’s also music and even some dancing in the grass, making it a fun outing for the entire family. If you make it out, make sure you grab some “Green Godess” tacos from the market taco stand, they make the best lunch! If you’re lucky you may also see Raffi there (word on the street is he sells his music there!).

2) Go swimming at St Mary Lake – This beautiful lake is located right in the middle of the island. You can pretty much park anywhere on the side of the road where you find space and walk down to the lake. There is also a small beach area with sand but that can get quite crowded on the weekend. The lake is warm in the summer, making it a great way to cool off after a day of outdoor activities!

3) Hike up Mt Maxwell – There are tons of trails that are available around the island but one of my favourites was the Mt Maxwell trails because of the incredibly views you can get at the top. The trails are uncrowded and allow you to explore a bunch of different viewpoints and landscapes on the island.

4) Cycle around the Island – Salt Spring Island is a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts. Lots of people cycle around the island, stopping at all the different farms, art studios, yoga studios, etc. around the island. You can find a map with the bike routes on the island here. There are also cycling excursions that you can join and bike shops, in case you need any tune ups while journeying across the island. If you’re a fan of hills, then you’ll be well served on the island!

5) Grab a snack at Morningside Organic Café – This cute little vegan café is located right beside the Fulford Harbour ferry stop. The Morningside Organic Café serves up a variety of bowls, wraps, vegan pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, nut mylks and more! You can also buy local produce and even books at the café. It’s also the coolest looking café around!

5 Things to do in Tofino

With Tofino being one of the summer travel hotspots in British Columbia, there’s no doubt that a lot of people will be coming to the area in the next couple of months. Having said that, there are lots of great things to do in and around Tofino, so I wanted to highlight a few of my discoveries from my first trip there last week!

1) Go surfing at Long Beach – Long Beach is definitely one of the most coveted surf spots in all of Canada. The long strip of sandy beach draws people from all around the world and with reason. It’s a great spot to learn how to surf or catch some smooth waves with your longboard. It does tend to get a little crowded this time of year, but the beach is so vast that there’s always a quieter spot somewhere in the water. It’s also an ideal spot to enjoy a post-surf picnic, BBQ and even watch the sunset.

2) Grab a beer from Tofino Brewing Co. – You can’t go to Tofino and not want to stop by their one and only brewery in the area, the Tofino Brewing Co. Their brewery is located on Industrial Way, on the way into downtown. You can get a tasting flight for just $10 and they also serve the local Tofino Kombucha, if you’re more in the mood for a non-alcoholic beverage. The spot is quaint, decorated with lots of surfing photos, and artwork. It’s a fun and casual place to go post-surf!

3) Visit Ucluelet – Ucluelet is located just a short drive away from Tofino. This small town is a lot quieter than Tofino but offers just as many things to do. I highly recommend doing the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse hike, visiting Small Beach, grabbing a homemade snack from Zoë’s Bakery and going shopping at Gypsy Drifter, the cutest bohemian-inspired shop! You can also hop on a sea plane for a tour of the area, go SUPing or visit their aquarium.

4) Tofitian Café – Looking for a place to grab your morning java or a homemade snack? You’ll want to go to Tofitian. It’s a super popular spot with both locals and visitors because they serve up delicious scones, muffins and croissants as well as tasty matcha lattés, coffees and drinks. The café is located in a cute shopping area, where you can sit on picnic tables and enjoy the proximity to the woods.

5) Rainforest Trail – There are tons of hikes to do in the area, but one that must be added to your list is the Rainforest Trail. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park, this lush green trail will make you feel like you’re in a magical wonderland. Though it tends to get crowded in the summer, there’s always room to feel alone in the vast forest. There are tons of different loops that you can choose from, which will please everyone from a newbie to a seasoned hiker!

Go Camping with MEC’s Gear Rental Program

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Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.

Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!

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Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!

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What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.

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Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.

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The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!

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Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!

For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.

This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

5 Things to do in Seattle

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1) Grab lunch at Wayward Vegan Café. This little Seattle hotspot serves up veganized versions of American diner food. Around since 2004, the Wayward Vegan Café has become a community favourite for its bottomless coffee, generous portions and comfort plates. They offer an extensive menu of all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as many gluten-free options. Waffles, sandwiches, salads and scrambles are just some of the many delicious dishes to choose from.

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2) Walk around in Capitol Hill. Located just east of downtown, Capitoll Hill is one of the liveliest areas of Seattle. Renown for its eclectic array of shops, restaurants and attractions, the colorful area has also become the city’s LGBTQ hub. Whether you’re looking for the trendiest urban offerings or quiet tree-lined parks and streets, the area has it all.

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3) Grab a mid-afternoon snack at Mighty-O Donuts. Looking for a sweet stop during your explorations? Stop by Mighty-O Donuts in Capitol Hill to satisfy your sweet craving! This ultra-popular shop has been around since 2000 and prides themselves in creating donuts and glazes from scratch using only certified organic ingredients. Plus all of their donuts are egg and dairy free!

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4) Visit Olympic Sculpture Park. This free outdoor park is open to the public all-year-round. Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park was opened back in 2007 and features both permanent and visiting installations and spans 9=acres across a park and beach. It’s a great place to admire and get inspired by art as well as a great place to enjoy ocean views or even have a picnic!

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5) Have dinner Harvest Beat. If you were to ask me my top 3 vegan meals I’ve ever had, the one I had at Harvest Beat in Seattle, would definitely be in that list. The restaurant uses seasonal ingredients from local farmers to produce their daily menus. The 100% vegan 5-course prix-fixe dinner menu can be paired with wine or non-alcoholic beverages. The dinner is set in a very intimate and warm setting that allows conversation with the chef and for a truly wonderful evening!

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