While everyone is going ballistic over pumpkin-spice-everything, I'm looking for ways to keep the summer-feeling strong.

Looking for a unique way to enjoy the water around Vancouver? Follow my lead.


Most Mild

Scandinave Spa, Whistler

Scandinave Spa 1Scandinave Spa

The winding pathway that leads to Scandinave Spa feels like the entrance to a fairytale. My boyfriend and I decided to test the mineral waters following an overnight hike to Joffre Lakes. Adhering to the signs that call for respectful silence, we entered the main building in hushed reverence.

After receiving our towels, locker locks and robes, we headed downstairs to change and shower. Once we were ready, we emerged and stepped directly into the serene mountain retreat.

Scandinave Spa 2Scandinave Spa /C Chomlack

A scattering of buildings, warmed by the descending sun, are surrounded by pools and waterfalls of hot and cold, mineral-enriched water. There is a eucalyptus steam room, a wood burning Finnish sauna and several solariums. Green grass carpets the rooftops of the timber frame buildings. A gentle, sweet-smelling steam rises through the air.

My boyfriend and I filled small paper cups with antioxidant tea and began the recommended cycle: 15 minutes of warming, followed by a refreshing rinse in cold water, and a solid 20 minutes of relaxation to regulate our body temperature.

Scandinave Spa 3Scandinave Spa / Chad Chomlack

In the last step of our first cycle, I began to feel something. I rested my legs on the metal grates of the outdoor fireplace, flames licking at the my bare toes, and opened my book. It was then that I recognized the feeling: I was sublimely, peacefully, completely relaxed.

Scandinave Spa 4Scandinave Spa / Chad Chomlack

We repeated the cycle four times, trying every method of hot, cold and in-between. My favourite heating agent was the log-cabin sauna and I loved the shock of the Nordic shower. The upper hammocks were probably my favourite perch to rest and read my book.

Scandinave Spa 4Scandinave Spa / Chad Chomlack

I left the spa feeling light and peaceful, and not really wanting to leave at all.

Want to do it? I suggest bringing a book or notebook to pass the time. The majority of the clientele came with their significant other, but it would not be odd to indulge alone, with a friend or with family. There is no limit to how long you can spend in the spa, though 3-4 cycles are recommended. You can add a massage treatment to make it a package.

Note: the experience is a phone-free space and spa etiquette is enforced by spa attendants. 

Website: scandinave.com/whistler


Mostly Mild

Kayaking the Indian Arm

SignAlison Karlene Hodgins / @alison_abroad

Deep Cove Kayak's 3-hour “Explorer” tour is an informative adventure through the southern part of Indian Arm. 

Our tour guide, Andy, introduced himself to the group and us to each other. There were six of us, ranging in age from 19 to 60 (if I had to harbor a polite guess). Andy explained that we wouldn’t be running a race, but taking a steady, slow pace, which suited me just fine.

After a quick paddling lesson, we became acquatinted with our kayaks. My boyfriend and I chose to share a double kayak, in part because we assumed it would be easier, and mostly because I wanted to take pictures while he paddled.

kayak selfieAlison Karlene Hodgins / @alison_abroad

Andy let us hold a sea star, related the history of the islands and led us to Belcarra Regional Park, where we stopped for a quick lunch break. He wasn't shy to answer any questions about the area and the ocean.

It was exactly the right amount of time on water. After three hours of paddling around, I was ready to head back to shore and relax.

PaddlingAlison Karlene Hodgins / @alison_abroad

Want to do it? The "Deep Cove Explorer Tour" departs daily from April 2nd to October 2nd, except on public holidays. The cost is $80 per adult and $50 for children 12 and under. No previous kayaking experience is necessary.

Website: deepcovekayak.com


More Wild

Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga

 I know, I know. How could SUP yoga be more wild than kayaking? Maybe we just had a windy day. Maybe I'm just not very good at paddle boarding or yoga (true). But after my SUP yoga class, all I could do was eat a massive falafel wrap and collapse into bed with a cup of tea to write this article.

SUP yoga 1Janaan Dibe / @jdibes

“I’m a little bit nervous,” I admitted to Roy over the phone, as I reserved the date for a stand-up paddle board yoga class. “I’ve never done it before.”

“Have you done yoga before?” he asked.


“Have you gone paddle boarding before?”

“Yes,” I said, leaving out the fact that the majority of my time on my one paddle board excursion was spent on my knees and lying on my stomach for sheer fear my wonky centre of gravity would send me splashing around in the lake.

As much as I love the water, I am no graceful ballerina on its surface.

“You’ll be fine,” he assured me smoothly, and booked my friend Janelle and I in for a 7 p.m. session.

SUP yoga 4Janaan Dibe / @jdibes

Due to weather conditions and my own hectic summer plans, that booking went through a rough few weeks of re-arranging. When I was finally able to attend, the weather was hot and sunny, but windy. Janelle and I arrived at Kits beach and changed into our bathing suits, just in case we fell in.

And, of course, I did.

We signed the waivers and got a quick run-down on PFDs, paddles and the boards from Janaan, our yoga instructor. We pushed off into the waves and steered around a submerged boat to the Maritime Museum, where we would be dropping our anchors.

My legs were sore and shaking by the time we'd made the paddle across the waves. We then sat and I tried to relax. We moved through a series of easy yoga poses, that were much, much more difficult due to the rocking waves. Many pedestrians paused to take our pictures from shore. A few may have been giggling at me. From low lunge to pigeon pose, I couldn't strip the tension from my body, though by the end of the 30-minute class, I was much more comfortable on my board.

Sup yoga 3Janaan Dibe / @jdibes

On the paddle back, I was actually brave enough to stand up and paddle on my board (you know...like you're supposed to.) I was gazing out to the copper-toned sunset when a rolling wave knocked me into the ocean. It was surprisingly warm, and I was glad I had put my PFD back on after the yoga moves. I climbed back up and stood up again.

Website: vancouverwateradventures.com/sup-yoga 


Most Wild

White Water Rafting the Elaho and Squamish Rivers

The Adventure GroupThe Adventure Group (TAG Whistler)

The Elaho has built up a bit of a reputation for itself, and it’s not a gentle one.

Fed by glacial run-off, the river is a mess of rocks and sputtering rapids, sure to scare off all who approach. Unless, of course, throwing yourself down a raving, frothing mass of icy water on top of a giant inflatable is your idea of a good time.

The Adventure Group hosts three different white water rafting excursions, and (of course) my boyfriend and I signed up for the wildest. Tackling Class 3 and 4 rapids, Wedge Rafting/TAG Whistler pad the insanity with a snack break along the river and a replenishing BBQ lunch afterwards.

We arrived at the Wedge Rafting counter in Whistler to sign the necessary waivers. We were informed we'd be taking a shuttle bus to Squamish, where the base camp is, but opted to drive ourselves.

We pulled in to the Adventure School and met our guide. Deno talked us through the safety basics, inserting such perfect jokes at opportune moments, you know he must have recited the speech a few times before.

Next, we stripped down to our swimsuits and peeled wetsuits overtop of them. While it was a gloriously sunny day, the rivers we were heading out to raft are glacier-fed. We pulled on wetsuit jackets, PFDs, booties and helmets.

A long, bumpy 45-minute shuttle took us to our launching point where we were broken up into rafting groups. My boyfriend and I were paired with a rowdy, hilarious bunch of boys up on a bachelor trip from Seattle. They were keen to hit the rapids at full speed, and we weren't arguing.

White water raftingAlison Karlene Hodgins

We hit the water and were swept off. We steered into an eddy for some optional cliff jumping. The water was extremely, shockingly, freezing cold.

The rest of the day was spent gleefully getting soaked; dipping down and jumping over spitting waves. The raft never flipped (it can, sometimes) but at one point we all decided to jump out and swim. We stopped for a snack of delicious cookies and candy before continuing on to our final destination. By the time we reached the shuttle bus, I wanted to run back upriver and do it all again. You can bet I will next season!

Want to do it? The Elaho-Squamish River rafting excursion departs every day at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine (you’ll get wet, anyways). There are two other tamer options, if this river seems too crazy for you!

Website: tagwhistler.com/elaho-squamish-river



What's your favourite water activity around Vancouver?
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