The locals’ intimate connection with the sea likely began when Squamish and Musqueam peoples first dipped their paddles into Burrard Inlet’s rich waters. Yet visitors to Vancouver’s harbour tend to distance themselves from the ocean, although boating is sometimes easier (and more scenic) than driving crowded streets.
The easiest, quickest and most inexpensive way to cruise Vancouver’s waterways is the False Creek Ferry and Aqua Bus system. Shuttles range in price from $3 one way to a $12 day pass, and connect passengers with the water as well as Vancouver’s hot spots such as Granville Island and Yaletown.
If a tour is what you’re after, these companies also provide half-day tours around False Creek. However, Harbour Cruises offers Vancouver’s only narrated tour of the inner harbour as well as spectacular sunset dinner cruises. All three tours, show off Vancouver’s West End, Stanley Park and a wide range of shore birds, including cormorants and great blue herons.
Boaters seeking a little more freedom should head to Granville Island where Bonnie Lee Boat Rentals and Granville Island Boat Rentals provide fully-equipped crafts from 13 foot cruisers to 26 foot fishing boats from $35 per hour. Heading under the art deco Burrard Street Bridge, cruise to Kits Point where low-flying kites and scantily-clad locals soak up the summer sun. Or fly over ocean swells to North Vancouver for an exhilarating trip under the famed Lion’s Gate Bridge. Want the personal boating experience but on a bigger, more luxurious boat? Cooper Boating provides luxury yacht rentals for those with more time and money.
If a slower speed is what you’re after, kayak rentals and lessons can be found from various locations. Both Wavedancer and Ocean West Expeditions offer 3-hour introductory kayak lessons as well as basic rentals from English Bay while Ecomarine offers classes and rentals from Granville Island. Instead of walking Vancouver’s famed Seawall, you can paddle around it while harbour seals watch your every move.
Jet skis, sailboats and windsurf boards can all be rented in various Vancouver locations, with pricing in every category. A quick check in the yellow pages or call to your hotel’s concierge can provide ample boating ideas.
The only other way to be more local would be to bring a latte on board.