That’s me in the bright yellow top, looking up Howe Sound…no sleeves (I’m very excited about this). After months of gloom, which I’ve been endlessly complaining about, spring has sprung in Horseshoe Bay. I’ve been wanting to write a post about my community, and the timing couldn’t be better. I got a new toy for my birthday: the Olympus OM-D. It has tons of bells and whistles that will take me lots of time to figure out. But for my first attempt, I took my compact little beauty for a walk around Horseshoe Bay—at the western tip of West Vancouver, British Columbia. Welcome to my neighbourhood.
Every community has an image, and Horseshoe Bay is foremost thought of as a ferry terminal. The scenic bay in Howe Sound is a busy transportation hub for locals and visitors travelling to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Bowen Island. For better and for worse, BC Ferries is part of our lives in this community—whisking us to work and play, frustrating us with rate increases and traffic snarls, and playing a vital role in the economy of “The Bay”, as we like to call it.
But, Horseshoe Bay is much more than just a ferry terminal. Perhaps I’m a tad biased, but I think this little pocket of West Vancouver has some of the most beautiful, quintessentially Pacific Northwest scenery in the greater Vancouver area. The supernatural views of Howe Sound and the snow-capped Coast Mountains belie the fact that bustling downtown Vancouver is less than a 30-minute drive away.
So, don’t go rushing onto the ferry. There’s lots to explore in and around Horseshoe Bay. The village itself, with its pretty oceanside park, and playground for the kids, is a great place to hangout. There are no shortage of coffee shops and restaurants/take-out eateries. My personal favourite is The Olive and Anchor—a lively spot with good food at reasonable prices (their seafood specials are usually excellent). The Boathouse has a prime location right on the water with spectacular views, and nothing beats their patio on a warm summer day.
The remainder of the photos were all taken along my usual walking route that passes by gorgeous bays, tranquil residential areas, and Whytecliff Park—one of the wildest, most natural urban parks in the world (in my humble opinion). These places are all within about 2.5 km from Horseshoe Bay Village. There’s a map at the end.
Batchelor Bay beach is a favourite local swimming and sunbathing spot. I always end up bumping into neighbours on warm, sunny days. Lots of people go swimming, but I’m a wimp in cold water and only manage to get in on the hottest summer days. It’s easy to get to Bachelor Bay via a walking trail from Marine Drive or simply walk/drive to the end of Dufferin Street (about 2 km from Horseshoe Bay Village). Check out the beautiful spring blossoms on my walk to the beach.
Whytecliff Park, the one I was raving about a few paragraphs up, is a short walk from Batchelor Bay. Just take the stairs on the right side of the beach (looking toward the ocean) and at the top, turn left onto Marine Drive. It’s just a few minutes to the entrance of the park.
Howe Sound, part of the Strait of Georgia, is the world’s southernmost fiord. It stretches from West Vancouver 42 km north to the city of Squamish.
Scrambling across the isthmus and up to Whyte Island is a popular activity. Just make sure you watch the tides or else you’ll be swimming back. Keep your eyes open for seals; they are plentiful.Look up in the sky for eagles; they are also common. Less common, though I have seen them, are schools of porpoises, dolphins and whales.
Whytcliff has wonderful, short trails that meander over the rocks along the coast. Even when the park is busy, you can usually find some secluded spots and feel like you are a million miles away from the city.
Whytecliff Park is a super popular place on summer weekends. If you can get there in off-season, or on a weekday it is far more peaceful. Late afternoons and evenings are particularly spectacular with the park’s western exposure.
That’s a quick photo tour of my neighbourhood. If you’re coming to Vancouver and want to visit the Horseshoe Bay area, I’ve got lots more tips and details. Just ask.
I’m pretty happy with my first attempt with the new Olympus. Next week I’ll be taking it along on a kayaking trip to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Stay tuned for posts about this excursion, plus I’m still planning on writing about Sevilla, Cordoba, and Barcelona.