The best eco-conscious escape to Victoria

Over the past few years I have really started to live my life in a more eco-conscious way. It started in my work life, as a reporter for the Weather Network we have been focused on being leaders in climate change content. As I did more and more stories on how this world is changing due to climate change, I started to realize this should also be a focus in my personal life.

With that in mind I understand travel isn’t the most environmentally friendly activity – planes use a ton of fossil fuels, boats create pollution and noise in the ocean – the list goes on. So to offset my footprint when I do travel, I try to focus on eco-tourism and support local companies that are doing their part to protect the plant.

Recently I had a chance to work alongside Destination B.C. to explore Victoria, with a focus on environmentally friendly activities and so I wanted to share with you how you can enjoy a weekend in Victoria and be eco-conscious at the same time.

Getting here

Like I mentioned, travel can be counter intuitive when it comes to the idea of sustainability, but thankfully there are a few travel companies in British Columbia that have focused on protecting the environment and taking steps towards reducing their emissions

BC Ferries

Victoria is about an hour and a half ferry ride from the Greater Vancouver area and you can feel good knowing that BC Ferries actually works with Fortis B.C. to adopt lower carbon fuels for boats.  Over the last few years have introduced several hybrid vessels.

Harbour Air Seaplanes

A short 35 minute flight from right downtown Vancouver to Victoria on Harbour Air isn’t just convenient but it is also environmentally smart. Harbour Air has been fully carbon neutral since 2007 and is also in the process of converting their fleet to electric planes. How cool is that!!

Where to stay

The Inn at Laurel Point

The Inn at Laurel Point has been focused on sustainability for over a decade now. In fact they became carbon neutral back in 2009 with the help of their unique architectural design. The hotel installed a marine cooling system, which pumps ocean water from the nearby harbour through 114 heat pumps for efficient and eco friendly temperature controls. Now trying to figure out the next step in their sustainability plan. Through their Project 2030 plan they are focusing on zero waste practices.

Eco cautious activities in Victoria

Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours

This tour guarantees a whale spotting – and we were lucky to see a couple of humpbacks as well as eagles, seals, sea lions, and otters, but it is also an environmentally responsible company. Eagle Wing has won several awards for their commitment to sustainability and is the first whale watching company in Canada to be certified platinum with GreenStep Sustainable Tourism.They are 100% carbon neutral giving back to important projects across the province. On top of that, they have worked with several engineers to create fuel efficient and quiet boats – with engines that are designed for low noise and vibration so that they are protected the whales and their habitat as well.

Rent a canoe or kayak

Victoria is a beautiful city located right on the ocean and so exploring the water is a must. I was lucky enough to rent a kayak and travel out to a rock famous for being home to seals. We saw a bunch of adorable pups and the best part is this activity literally emits zero carbon. You can check out Victoria Kayak for rentals and information

Take a sky-high trip to the Malahat Skywalk

This was one of the coolest attractions I have ever done and I loved that it focused on environment and sustainable practices. You are literally walking through nature on a boardwalk that takes you through a coastal forest and then up to a 250m high lookout point with gorgeous 360 views of the ocean. The skywalk was built in partnership wit the Malahat Nation and its focus is to celebrate nature while also making a commitment towards environmental stewardship and sustainability. In fact one of their objectives is to replant native species and protect them from invasive plants.

Stop and smell the flowers at Butchart Garden

No trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at the Butchart Gardens. The beautiful flowers and plants are are a must see – but the botanical garden also has a list of environmental initiatives. They have been focusing on a recycling and compost program as well as non chemical weed control methods.

Grab a drink at a sustainable brewery

The Victoria based Phillips Beer is not just delicious craft beer, but it is also responsibly brewed. Some of their focuses include C02 recapture and water reduction. If you are more of a cider fan, well a Cider Farm & Ciderhouse  is a farm based cidery and sources their fruits from their more than 1,300 apple trees.

Eat Sustainably as well at Spinnackers Pub

Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub  is not just one of Canada’s oldest brew pubs but it has also been doing farm to table for over 30 years. The pub has partnered with dozens of local farmers and focuses on serving local foods year round.

So there you have it, there are definitely ways to travel and explore while also taking care of the planet (and that way we will be able to explore it for much longer).

I hope this will be an inspiration to focus more on sustainable tourism this year,

Happy and safe travels my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

7 Tips to make travel more enjoyable

Most of what I write about on this blog has to do with travel. I have always LOVED traveling. In fact I took my first across the world flight (from Canada to South Africa) when I was just 1 (my parents are brave). Traveling is a great way to see the world and learn about different cultures. However, it can also be stressful if you are not prepared. Over my many years of traveling I have picked up a few tips and tricks that can make your experience more enjoyable. 

Do Your Research

Before you travel, it is important to do your research. I know that this can be a daunting task at the time – but it will make the actual travel part so much more enjoyable. What I mean by research is take the time to learn about the culture and customs of your destination. It is also a good idea to research the best time to visit, as well as any potential dangers. By doing your research, you will be able to avoid potential problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Get Travel Insurance

Things happen that are out of our control – especially as the world starts to open up again so another important tip is to get travel insurance. This will protect you in case of any problems while you are away from home. It is a good idea to buy travel insurance that covers medical expenses, lost luggage, and cancellations. By getting travel insurance, you will be able to relax and enjoy your trip, knowing that you are covered in case of any problems.

 

Be Prepared for Jet Lag

One way to make your travels more enjoyable is by being prepared for jet lag. Jet lag can cause fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. To avoid jet lag, it is important to adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine during your flight. By being prepared for jet lag, you can avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of travel.

 

Pack Light

During my days as  a professional athlete I lived out of a suitcase and learned a very specific talent of packing light, this has come in very handy traveling today.  This will make it easier to move around and avoid lost luggage. It is also a good idea to pack versatile clothing that can be worn in different weather conditions. By packing light, you will be able to have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Stay Healthy

While it is easy to just sit by the swim up bar your entire trip, I have found it so important to try and stay healthy and in a bit of a routine while traveling.  This means eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough rest. It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. By staying healthy, you will be able to enjoy your trip more and not feel so rough when you get home. 

 

Take Care of Your Feet

I will never forget a day in Rome where I spent 10 yours on my feet exploring all the sites. Your feet can take a lot of abuse when you are traveling. To avoid problems, it is important to pack comfortable shoes and socks. If you know that you will have intensive travel where you will walk a lot, consider buying custom foot orthotics to help support your feet. You should also take care of your feet by washing them regularly and keeping them dry. By taking care of your feet, you will be able to avoid problems and have more enjoyable travels.

 

Be Mindful of Your Belongings

When you are traveling, it is important to be mindful of your belongings. This means keeping your passport and money in a safe place. It is also a good idea to make copies of important documents. By being mindful of your belongings, you will be able to avoid problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

These are just a few tips that can help make your travels more enjoyable. By following these tips, you can have a better experience when traveling.

Essential Items to Buy Before Embarking on a Camping Trip with Your Family

My husband and I moved to British Columbia so that we could be in the mountains. We both love being active in the outdoors. From biking to hiking and recently we have fallen in love with camping. While we have yet to try out a camping trip with our new addition (our 7 month old son) it is on our to do list and so we have been doing a lot of research into what we need to go camping together as a family.

Firstly I want to say no matter what activity you are doing outdoors you should always have the 10 essentials:

  • Navigation
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Sun Protection
  • Illumination
  • Insulation
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire Starter
  • Communication Device
  • Shelter

Now I wanted to dive a little deeper into some other useful items for a family camping trip.

 

1) Mosquito repellent

 

The last thing you want on your camping trip is to be constantly swatting at mosquitoes. Not only is it annoying, but it can also ruin your relaxation. To avoid this, make sure to pack some mosquito repellent. You’ll be glad you did!

 

There are a variety of mosquito repellents available on the market, so finding one that suits your needs shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re unsure of which product to choose, ask a sales associate at your local store for help. Once you have your mosquito repellent, apply it liberally before heading outdoors. Then, reapply as needed throughout the day, especially if you’re sweating or swimming.

 

2) First aid kit

 

I mentioned this earlier in the 10 essentials and it really is a must have. A first aid kit is an essential item for any camping trip. Accidents can happen, so it’s always better to be prepared. Your first aid kit doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A simple one with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers should suffice.

 

If you have any specific medical conditions that require medication, make sure to pack those as well. And if you’re unsure of how to use any of the items in your first aid kit, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or family member for help. Better safe than sorry!

 

 

3) Sunscreen

 

Whether you’re planning to spend the day hiking or just relaxing by the campsite, it’s vital to protect your skin from the sun. Be sure to pack sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it frequently throughout the day.

 

Also, don’t forget to pack lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips from sunburn. And don’t forget hats and sunglasses for extra protection! Finally, if you have sensitive skin, be sure to pack an aloe vera gel or lotion to help soothe any sunburns.

 

4) Weatherproof gear

 

I mentioned insulation and shelter – and making sure you have weatherproof gear is essnetial The weather can be unpredictable, especially in the  mountains, so it’s always better to be prepared. If you’re camping in an area that is known for bad weather, make sure to pack some weatherproof gear from EcoGearFX. This includes items such as raincoats, boots, and umbrellas.

 

If you don’t have any weatherproof gear, don’t worry! You can usually purchase these items at your local store. Just make sure to check the forecast before you leave so you know what to expect. Also, keep in mind that the weather can change quickly, so it’s always a good idea to have some extra clothes packed just in case.

 

Now that you know what to pack for your next camping trip, all that’s left is to have fun! So get outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to offer with your family and friends. And don’t forget to take plenty of pictures!

 

Top family friendly activities in Ucluelet

If you have followed my blog for a little bit now you must know I am a big fan of Vancouver Island, particularly Tofino. I have been there for work and play several times, but on a recent trip I wanted to discover a slightly less touristy area of that part of the island – Ucluelet.

I have always loved the island vibe. Small, laid back beachfront communities where surfing is a locals favourite hobby and everyone knows everyone at the local cafes. However I didn’t know how different Ucluelet could be. Located on the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nations traditional territories, the beaches here are covered in black rock instead of sand, and just steps from your front door you are transported back in time as ancient rainforests sing to you in the wind. It is rugged beauty like nothing you have seen before and something that will have you coming back for more.

Why Ucluelet?

One thing that I absolutely loved about Ucluelet over staying in Tofino was the walkability. Sure, if you are able to find a place close to town in Tofino you can get around easily, but if you want to stay at one of the more luxury resorts on the beach, you would have to drive into town. In Ucluelet no matter where you were staying  you were just minutes from beautiful trails, the rugged yet beautiful rocky oceanfront,  and delicious dining.

Where to stay

Since we became a family of four (a human and fur baby) it can be difficult to find accommodation for all of us, but I loved that Ucluelet had a lot of kid (baby) and pet friendly places. We spent the weekend in luxury and stayed at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort.

This beautiful hotel is located right on top of the dramatic black rocks of the Pacific Ocean – you can literally see the waves crashing against the shore through every window. It is also nestled right in the middle of the Wild Pacific Trail, basically an ancient rainforest is on your doorstep. And the best part, both the beach and the trails were accessible right from the hotel property and easy to access with both dog and baby (in fact some of the trails were even stroller friendly).

As for the accommodations, they were pretty special. Again rooms either have an ocean or rainforest view and we were lucky we had a bit of both. There was also lots of space so that we could put the baby to sleep while still staying up. And lastly there were dog treats for Huey when we arrived.

Top family friendly activities in Ucluelet

Alright let’s get to the good part – what makes Ucluelet so fun for the whole family to enjoy? Well we covered a lot in our 3 days – and all of it was family friendly ( although we had to leave Huey behind for a few food experiences).

1. Go for a treat at Zoe’s Bakery

When I asked for suggestions of what to do in Ucluelet literally everyone messaged me that I needed to visit Zoe’s bakery and cafe and so I set out on a mission the first day we were there to beat the crowds (I heard it could get quite busy and I wanted to make sure I got the best treats). Zoe actually used to work at the Black Rock before opening up the bakery – and let me tell you – these treats were well worth the early start to the day.

2. Treat yourself again with a day at the spa

Ok, this one isn’t completely family friendly – but we do have a baby that loves the water -and the Black Rock is home to two hot tubs and one pool. So while I wasn’t able to indulge in a spa treatment this time (which I have heard is spectacular), I was able to enjoy the pool with my little one – and let me tell you the views from the spa area are worth it – even if it’s just for a quick dip

3. Visit the beach

While you can see the beach from literally every room in the resort, it is so much fun to go down and check it out. You won’t find the sandy beaches here (for that you have to travel a bit closer to Tofino) but it was so fun to go out and see the rocks up close and keep our eyes open for some tiny creatures that call them home.

5. Go for a hike

It is so special to be surrounded by such beautiful nature. One of the things I love about this part of the world Pacific Rim National Park. You will feel so small amongst the giant trees that call this rainforest home. We did a few different hikes and really loved both the Wild Pacific Trails just outside the hotel as well as Lighthouse Loop (we took the stroller so we didn’t break our backs and there were so many gorgeous viewpoints along the way).

4. Enjoy the culinary scene

I have always been impressed with the food on this part of the island and Ucluelet did not disappoint. Some of our favourite eats included

Heartwood Kitchen : This adorable renovated cottage made you feel right at home – even though our son decided to have a meltdown, the staff was still so kind and welcoming and the food was delicious. Casual bistro style foods.

West Coast Salty Buns:We stumbled upon this adorable Mexican food truck famous for their well, salty buns. The food was so flavourful and later I learned that they really pride themselves  on sourcing local products, no wonder it all tasted to fresh. A must do lunch spot.

Currents Restaurant:Talk about dinner with a view. This restaurant is located in the Black Rock Resort overlooking the ocean. Try and book in for around sunset to get an incredible show while eating a tasty meal.

Abbondanza: If you are a fan of pizza you need to make a stop here. I had the best fungi pizza of my life! A very small hole in the wall spot so we decided to order out, but as a self proclaimed pizza connoisseur this is a must! Even the locals say so.

5. Visit the aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium is a none for profit catch and release aquarium that focuses on education. All of the displays here are with marine life found right in the local waters in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The staff there is also so helpful and ready to answer any questions. While Max was still very young he really did enjoy watching the fish swim and I enjoyed learning about this amazing program.

6. End the day with a local beer

The Ucluelet Brewing Company is situated right on the water so it offers a gorgeous view with some tasty local craft brews. As someone who isn’t a big beer drinker I really appreciated the staff helping me find some drinks I would enjoy – and guess what they are baby friendly too. Max had a great nap while mom and dad enjoyed a drink after a long day of exploring!

I absolutely loved the laid back and welcoming feel of Ucluelet and I can’t wait to head back to this magical place with the family again soon.

 

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

The best (and most authentic) Luau in Maui and why you should book a ticket

When I first went to Hawaii over 10 years ago I remember how entraining it was to experience my first luau. I loved the dancing and drums and all the fire, but when I returned to the beautiful Islands of Hawaii more recently, I wanted to experience more of the cultural side of a lu’au. After searching online and speaking with other locals I learned that the most authentic Hawaiian Lu’au is the Old Lahaina Lu’au and so we booked in to see this traditional hula and dinner experience.

The history of a Luau

To understand why it is important to consider an authentic luau, it is first important to understand the history and cultural significance of the luau. For a long time men and women would eat separately. There were also certain foods women weren’t allowed to eat. All that started to change when King Kamehameha II  took over. They had large celebrations with feasts, hula, and music. These special events were all about food, fun, but most importantly family.

However, the celebration was changed drastically around 1820 when Christianity took over, and in 1830, hula was banned for more than 40 years. King Kalakaua restored hula in 1874, and at this time hula introduced women dancers.

But over the years, unfortunately the true authenticity of hula, and luaus in general changed. Hollywood created their own version of hula, using musical instruments instead of ancient gourds and drums. The dancing became more of a visual presentation instead of its origin – language.

And overtime the actual lu’au’s in Hawaii changed as they welcomed visitors to the show. Many started to combine the Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, promoting fire dancing, and feasts that didn’t even touch on true Hawaiian food. But that is what sets the Old Lahaina Lu’ua apart. It’s goal is to teach visitors about the Hawaiian culture, by creating an authentic atmosphere touching on all the senses. I will share more on that in the experience.

The experience

The setting

One of the main reasons visitors flock to Hawaii each year is the beautiful setting. Mountains located right beside the stunning waters of the Pacific Ocean. The backdrop of the Old Lahaina Lu’ua captures the beauty of Hawaii. When you first arrive you are automatically drawn to the beautiful ocean scene. Along the waterfront there are different local artists showing off their work. Here you will find one of a kind wood carvings and a band playing live music. The seating is set up to form a semi circle around a stage and in the middle of the stage is an authentic Hokule’a, the famous voyager canoes, that would be part of the story we were going to learn tonight.

The performance

What I loved about the show is they really want to teach you. Before anything starts, hula dancers take the stage and show you a few moves. Since the dance really is a language, they also tell you the meaning behind each move. On top of that, they introduce you to some authentic Hawaiian instruments, lots of shows focus on the drums, but this show also created sound with instruments that have been used for hundreds of years, like the ka’eke’eke (hallow bamboo used to create sounds like drums), an ipu, a pu (or conch), and Ili’ili (stones that create a clacking sound). I found it fascinating that so much of the music was created by natural items.

After a brief introduction, the dancing started. Both men and women took the stage in tradition costumes and headdresses dancing to traditional music and through each movement telling a story. It was truly beautiful.

The food

One of the main reasons people come to a Lu’au is for the food right? I mean the history of the Lu’au is celebrating with a giant feast. While over the years a lot of Lu’au’s have become more “americanized”, the Old Lahaina Lu’ua prides itself on serving authentic Hawaiian foods. Yes, they serve pork that has been roasted underground for 18 hours, but they also serve other traditional foods like poi, laulau, lomilomi salmon, and the freshest tuna poke I have ever tasted. Oh and if you aren’t full after your five courses they send you home with a little treat, fresh banana bread (as we found out an island favourite).

The history lesson

While I feel many lu’uas just focus on the show, what I loved about the Old Lahaina Lu’au is that it also focused on the history of the islands and the people that call Hawaii home. We were taken back in time through dance, music, and language, to learn about how these Islands came to be and how the luau was started. Learning about the history helped created a deeper connection to Maui and the beautiful traditions and culture.

If you are visiting Maui and thinking of going to a lu’au, I highly suggest learning more about the Old Lahaina Lu’ua. 

Mahalo as they say,

and happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia