5 Winter Getaway Ideas in BC

1) Go on a Food and Drink excursion in Kelowna. The region of Kelowna is well-known in the summer for its amazing wineries, but winter is as good of a time as any to visit the Okanagan Valley. Most of the wineries and wine trails are open all-year-round plus there are now tons of awesome local breweries popping up all over town, making it a great destination for wine and beer enthusiasts. Farm to Table is also a huge trend in Kelowna and the valley. Local farmers and chefs take pride in serving locally grown food from the neighbourhood farms. While you’re in the area, you can even take a self-guided farm tour to visit the local food growers and learn more about what the area can produce.

2) Go surfing in Tofino – Winter or the shoulder season are truly the best times to visit Tofino. Yes, the water will be cold but you get to avoid all the crowds and madness that you get during the summer. There are lots of great surf shops open all-year-round (Long Beach Surf Shop, Surf Sister, Pacific Surf School, etc.) and tons of spots to get surf lessons from if you’re new to the sport. Plus, the après-surf is that much more enjoyable when you’re sitting fireside with a warm beverage either at a nice Airbnb, an oceanfront cabin (check out Ocean Village Resort!) or even in your van. Van life is very much alive and well all-throughout the year in Tofino!

3) Go Hiking in Nelson – The Nelson Kootenay region offers a handful of amazing hiking options for those looking to spend some time outdoors this winter. Whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt like the 1.6k Pulpit Rock or something more grandiose like the spectacular Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, Nelson has all sorts of hikes that can be explored throughout the winter season with either regular hiking boots, crampons or even snowshoes.

4) Visit Halcyon Hot Springs – Open 365 days a year, these beautiful hot springs are located right on the waterfront of Upper Arrow Lake. While relaxing in the restorative and healing waters, you get to enjoy the beautiful views of the Monashee Mountains. The hot springs are just over an hour away from Revelstoke, making it the perfect après-ski relaxation spot. You can spend the entire weekend at the Halcyon Hot Springs exploring the area and renting out one of the chalets or cabins on property.

5) Go explore the backcountry in Whistler. Chances are, if you’ve visited BC in the winter time or your reside here, you’ve probably already gone skiing or riding up in Whistler. But have you explore the amazing backcountry before? There are lots of great local touring companies (Extremely Canadian, Altus Mountain Guides) that offer AST courses, clinics and tours for mountain enthusiasts of all levels. You can also purchase some backcountry tickets for Whistler Blackcomb, that are more than half the price of the regular lift tickets.

Happy winter adventuring friends!

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.

 

Discovering the New 2018 Toyota C-HR

I had the pleasure of spending the last couple of weeks adventuring around British Columbia with Toyota‘s brand new car, the 2018 C-HR. It was the perfect vehicle for both city and nature discoveries. Its ultra-sleek and unique design combined with Toyota’s best safety features, made it a reliable and fun car to drive, in all driving conditions.

LOOK

Its two-toned colourful exterior turned heads everywhere I went. This car is without a doubt one of the coolest looking vehicles on the market with its modern design. Toyota did a great job imagining a car that stood out from the pack and pushed the envelop on a design standpoint. The vehicle’s standard 17″ alloy wheels and also diamond-cut lines, make it very pleasing to the eyes.

SAFETY 

Toyota is renown for its top of the line safety standards and features. The Toyota Safety Sense P system includes lane departure alerts, pre-collision system with pedestrian and dynamic radar cruise control, just to name a few. The vehicle also comes equipped with 10 airbags, a monitoring system that alerts you if you have low fuel or washer fluid, an ajar door, etc. Moreover, the vehicle also offers the Toyota Star Safety System that features Brake Assist, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control and more! All of these safety features gave me peace of mind while exploring through the city and mountains and allowed for the safest driving conditions.

PERFORMANCE

Performance enthusiasts will be happy to know that the C-HR contains a 144-hp, 2.0L, 4-cyl VALVEMATIC and a continuously variable transmission. You also have the ability to choose Sport mode, which transforms the vehicle in a simulated 7-speed sequential Shiftmatic transmission, making it that much more fun to drive. But with speed comes the need for a reliable breaking system, something that Toyota has not overlooked. The car’s braking system works with front and rear discs and an Anti-lock braking system, braking assist and electronic brake force distribution, which allows you to keep control of the vehicle no matter what situation may arise.

TECHNOLOGY

It’s impossible to talk about the vehicle without noting some of its great tech features such as the backup camera that comes up in the electrochromic rearview mirror, the rear cross traffic alert with blind spot monitor as well as the Smart Key system, allowing you to start the car with just the push of a button. And for avid music fans like myself, the car boasts an impressive sound system and all the jacks you could need to play your favourite playlists or albums while on the road.

RECAP

All in all, my time driving around with the 2018 Toyota C-HR was very pleasant. It allowed me to discover new parts of British Columbia and drive through windy country roads, mountainous areas, the beach as well as the crowded streets of Vancouver. The C-HR is a car that has all the modern features a driver wants, a spacious interior and trunk for longer trips while never compromising safety or comfort for the driver and passengers of the car.

For more info on the 2018 Toyota C-HR, go here.

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!