The best way to spend a solo getaway in Whistler

It has been 11 months since I slept in past 7 am and chasing after a very mobile baby is exhausting  – momma needed a little break and so I packed up my bags for a solo night away in Whistler.

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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.

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

 

Why the Sunshine Coast should be on your summer bucket list

Summer is right around the corner, which means it is time to get out and explore, and I might be a bit biased, but I think British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places to explore. One of the places I love exploring is the Sunshine Coast. I make a trip out there every single summer. Recently I had a chance to explore with Destination BC and wanted to share some of the top things to see and do.

 

Traveling to the Sunshine Coast

One of the reasons I love the Sunshine Coast as a vacation spot is the fact that it is easy to get to. The ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale is just 40 minutes and you only have to pay for one way (some of the other BC islands I want to travel to require multiple ferries and hours of travel).

Where to stay

I have had the chance to stay in 3 different areas on the Sunshine Coast, Gibsons, Sechelt, and Egmont. Each area offered a unique and different experience. I loved the cute shops and restaurants of Gibsons, the outdoor adventure in Sechelt, and the tranquility and relaxation in Egmont – the best thing is you can explore all 3 in one trip.

There are many different options for lodging on the Sunshine Coast and I have been lucky enough to stay in different areas and places. There is a wide variety of Airbnb options, including ones right on the water. There are also adorable B&B and Cottages. One of my favourite stays was at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge. The lodge was gorgeous with rooms offering ocean views. The restaurant on site was fantastic and there was a beautiful patio where you could watch the sunset and search for whales. They also offer a ton of packages that include meals and tours.

What to do

There is so much to see and do across the Sunshine Coast. Like I mentioned there truly is something for everyone – for the foodies, and the outdoor enthusiasts, and the ones that want to just relax. Here are my top must do activities to do on the Sunshine Coast.

  • Hike to Skookumchuck Narrows: I have seen some incredible natural wonders in B.C. but this might top them all. Twice a day nature dances as the tides at the narrows change and the water actually reverses direction. The difference in water levels between on side of the rapids and the other is sometimes 9 feet high. Come at the right time and you can catch kayakers daring the waves the tide creates. Another highlight is the gorgeous forest you walk through to get to the narrows – make sure to grab a coffee at the Skookumchuck Bakery and Cafe before your walk, it is the cutest cafe I have ever seen and you can pack a picnic to eat while watching the show.
  • Princess Louisa Inlet: The float plane ride to the inlet was enough to make this trip a must do. You soar over the beautiful fjord beside snow capped mountains landing at what has been dubbed the  ‘most beautiful anchorage in the world’ and for good reason. The granite walls of the inlet are powerful, but what will truly take your breathe away is the beautiful Chatterbox Falls – a stunning 120 foot waterfall. Because of the risks the tides cause in the area it is recommended you travel here with an experienced guide. I loved the plane tour with Sunshine Coast Air.
  • Take a canoe or kayak on the water: When I stayed in Egmont we teamed up with the Egmont Adventure Centre for a day of kayaking. We went on the Sechelt Inlet Kayaking Tour. It was so peaceful to be out on the water and a big highlight was stopping by a rock that was famous for its seal population. There were more than a dozen of them, including some new pups.
  • Take a hike: The Skookumchuck Narrows is just one of the beautiful hikes on the Sunshine Coast. There are so many beautiful trails to explore. A must see is Smuggler Cove. The hike takes you through a lush forest that then opens up into a beautiful cove. Pack some snacks because the rocks overlooking the cove offer the perfect spot for a picnic.
  • Mountain Biking: While I am definitely not a mountain biker my husband and his friends absolutely love a day at Coast Gravity Bike Park. Known for it’s trails built by riders for riders.
  • Take a sip on a brewery tour: Our first trip to the Sunshine Coast we stayed in Gibson and decided to do a little bike brewery tour. There are some great spots that are part of the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail. We started at the 101 Brewhouse for lunch and a drink before enjoying the sunshine and even some whale watching on the patio of Tapworks Brewery  and then we finished off the tour at the ever popular and beautiful Persephone. Sometimes during the summer there is even a market at Persephone.
  • Shop until you drop: Both Sechelt and Gibson had some adorable local shops. I loved supporting some local businesses, and every time I visit the Sunshine Coast I make sure to come home with some delicious olive oil. Both towns have their own olive oil shop!

 

Where to eat

The different towns might be small but mighty when it comes to restaurant and food options. Here are some of my favourite spots to dine on the Sunshine Coast.

  • Buono Osteria (Gibsons): We went for dinner here for my husband’s birthday who loves pizza, and he said this is potentially the best pizza he has ever had. The owner is first generation from Italy and they make their pizzas in  a wood burning oven.
  • Lunitas Mexican Eater (Gibsons): You cannot beat this location – right on the water the patio is beautiful and the tacos are delicious
  • Smitty’s Oyster House (Gibsons): Another oceanfront location with delicious food and drinks and just a really fun vibe.
  • Beachcomber Coffee (Gibsons): Locally roasted coffee, this is a quaint little cafe and a must stop to start the day
  • El Sugundo (Sechelt): This place is a must visit. They are famous for their delicious tropical cocktails and their delicious pan pacific fusion food
  • The Bakery (Sechelt): The name says it all. A delicious bakery that serves up simple yet savoury breakfast treats