Sure, you could decide to spend spring break doing your annual domestic deep-clean. But explain that to your kids, who just heard their friends are heading out on exciting spring break escapes in regions across the province. Here are just a few excursions the whole family can enjoy:
1. Surf the coast
If you thought surfing was a uniquely southern sport, think again. The sport is booming on beach breaks in and around Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The apex is located just south of Tofino, but Ucluelet — known as Ukee by locals — is gaining a reputation as a jumping off point on the shoulder of the wave.
Lessons: Surf schools abound, with lessons starting around $75 per person per session, including board and wetsuit. Alternatively, rent a long board and suit from $15 each per day. Among the many suppliers are Live to Surf, the granddaddy of the area’s surf shops, or Canadian pro Sepp Bruhwiler’s Westside Surf.
2. Carve it up
Spring is upon us, but the snow hasn’t gone anywhere in the higher reaches. Warmer temperatures lend themselves to sun-soaked resort patios and sunburnt faces — both of which may come as a welcome change after winter. With resorts across the province, this is one activity that can be done in nearly everyone’s backyard.
Day lift passes: Consider Sun Peaks near Kamloops (adults from $79), Revelstoke ($80), Big White near Kelowna ($79), Mount Washington near Victoria ($75), or Whistler/Blackcomb near Vancouver ($115).
Lessons and equipment: Many resorts have learning sessions starting from under $60 and equipment rentals from $40. Some mountains offer package deals.
3. Swim Harrison Hot Springs
If you need to rejuvenate those sore muscles and that bone-tired soul, head to the indoor and outdoor mineral pools at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. The kids will have too much fun to interrupt your relaxation, and if you’re not a parent, don’t fret — some pools are adults only.
Admission: Access to the resort’s five pools is only for guests, with two-night spring break family packages starting from $449, and bed and breakfast from $139. If you stay elsewhere in the area there is a public hot pool in the centre of town that costs $9 per swim for adults, or about $13 for the day.
4. Flip a coin in the capital
Victoria’s mild year-round climate makes it an obvious choice for a spring getaway for the family. Wind permitting, try taking the helm of a sailboat as you brave the Strait of Juan de Fuca or round the Discovery and Chatham islands. On a calm day, opt instead for a motorized harbour tour, then one of the city’s indoor activities like the Royal BC Museum and its current exhibition on wildlife photography.
Prices: Charter a boat for a half day for $400, or for $675, take it for the day at Blackfish Sailing Adventures. Harbour tours are $22 for adults, and museum admission is $16 for adults, or $25.80 including a screening at the Imax.
5. Go for a ride
March is not always known for its blue skies, so to up your chances of fair weather, head to the Sunshine Coast and pedal some of the area’s dozens of scenic bike routes. There’s no guarantee you’ll end up with a tan, but you’ll have a great time whatever the weather, and whatever your style of riding or skill level. Should it happen to rain, there is plenty to do and explore indoors.
Costs: Ferry fees from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast are $50 per vehicle and $15 per passenger. If you’re renting bikes or want a tour, try Off the Edge Adventure Sports, where rides start at $40 per day and guided trips from $130 per person.
7. Get back into hibernation
Tired of above-ground activities? Try spelunking. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park, located just west of Parksville on Vancouver Island, is home to an explorable network of caves packed with crystal formations and fossils. The caves can be a wet at times, but caving is the kind of activity that demands getting out of your comfort zone.
Costs: Self-guided caves are open daily, and helmets with lights can be rented for $8.50 from Horne Lake Caves & Outdoor Centre. They also offer three-hour spelunking tours for $69 for adults, with all equipment included.
8. Make your footprint
Snowshoeing is a relatively inexpensive way to see some pristine backcountry all across the province. If you simply can’t get away for spring break, take a few hours and head to your local hills. For something further flung, try Fernie in the East Kootenay region.
Costs: Rent a pair of snowshoes for around $22 a day, or head out on a tour.
8. Rediscover our coastal heritage
Haida Gwaii is far from most B.C. cities, but getting there is a key part of this serious adventure and there’s plenty to do when you arrive. Catch a ferry along the Inside Passage before BC Ferries cuts this legendary route, then cross the Hecate Strait. Once the multi-day journey is through, stretch your legs and explore Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site or visit the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay. Your family will surely remember this trip.
Fares: Ferry fees for a one-way trip from Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert, then on to Skidegate are around $175 per person and flights between Masset and Vancouver start around $250.
Source: Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun