When the English explorer, George Vancouver (1757-1798) first charted the waters here on the north east coast of north America in his voyages here during the years 1791 to 1795, he may have imagined an English settlement being established here, but he would not have known that it would one day be a great city and be named in his honour. (Read Canada History section)
Vancouver is indeed a great city, ideally located on the west coast of Canada, on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, and just 38 kilometres (24 miles) north from the border with the USA. It is the third biggest Canadian City after Toronto and Montreal.
The Vancouver International Airport is just to the south of the main city centre, and about 20 minutes away. There are taxis and also the Skytrain (an automated light rail system) will take you to the City and other stations on its network.
The main Downtown city part of Vancouver is located on a peninsula with Vancouver Harbour on the northern side and English Bay on the southern side, with the end of the peninsula being a huge park, Stanley Park covering an area of 1000 acres (405 hectares) creating a large green space in the city.
Vancouver is very much a harbour city with waterways, cruise terminals, port facilities, marinas, ferries, ships and boats in the harbour, with a number of beaches close by and islands including Vancouver Island off the coast all here to see and experience. You will also see seaplanes taking off and landing on the water too – and they have flights out of Vancouver to see the city, mountains, islands, ocean and surrounding area or take you to Victoria and other places where there is water to land on.
Mostly wherever you are in the City, you will not be far away from Vancouver Harbour and English Bay while at the same time the City is just half an hour away (depending on traffic) from ski resorts and mountains. Adding to the mix of islands, waterways and mountains are the massive forest areas that surround the city, with Forestry still being the biggest industry in Vancouver.
Vancouver has a population of around 600,000 but in the greater Vancouver area there are around 2.4 million people, with the City being quite multi-cultural with a mix of people of English heritage, but also from countries from all over the world. The city is proud of its multi-cultural heritage.
Around 30% of the population is of Chinese origin, making Vancouver a city with one of the biggest Chinese communities outside of China. There is a large Chinatown here in Vancouver, and this is just one of the many places you should visit.
A number of Cruise Ships leave from Vancouver heading mostly north to Alaska through the Inland Passage, and this is one of the world's great voyages to see this alpine wonderland, icebergs, bears, seals, birds and other wildlife as you cruise northwards. Bring some field glasses to make the most of your trip north if you are cruising.
In Vancouver itself these are some of the main attractions –
None of the beaches listed above could be classed as having waves for surfing, due to the islands off the coast stopping any large waves coming here. If you are looking to ride a surfboard, you need to head south into Washington State in the USA – so crossing the border, which means time spent going through customs just to get there. Suggested places to find surfing waves in Washington State are at Point Roberts and Fort Ebey on Whitbey Island.
Other points of interest –