In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is launching a fun contest to find the top 150 hidden travel gems in our country. IHG sponsored this post and my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are my own.
Discovering Canada’s Hidden Gems
There are countless reasons why we love living in Canada and being Canadian. One reason is because we’re constantly finding new hidden gems around every corner. Narrowing down the list to just one hidden gem is not an easy task, especially since we live in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
We could easily rattle off the most popular things you should do when visiting Vancouver, but that’s not the point of this contest. The purpose is to highlight the less obvious or unknown places that contribute to Canada’s greatness.
Porteau Cove Provincial Park, British Columbia
One location that continues to capture our attention is Porteau Cove Provincial Park.
Many people, locals included, are unaware of this small slice of paradise. Porteau Cove is located on the rocky shores of Howe Sound, the most southerly fjord in North America. The park is located in the Sea to Sky Corridor, between Vancouver and Squamish.
While it’s only a 30 minute drive from Vancouver, as soon as you step out of your car you instantly feel miles away from the big city chaos.
It’s a slippery slope when sharing a favorite hidden gem.
Part of what makes this place special is that it’s often overlooked and rarely crowded. The more people we tell, the more likely it is that this hidden gem will become not so hidden.
Everyone that drives from Vancouver to Whistler, or vice versa, will pass by Porteau Cove Provincial Park. However, few people realize that it’s worth pulling off the highway to spend some quality time here.
There are two sunken ships near the pier, which makes Porteau Cove a popular scuba diving spot. But unless you’re a cold water scuba diver, you’ve likely driven right past the road signs without giving it much thought.
The park is not very big, it’s only 56 hectares in size, but there’s plenty of outdoor activities for all types. The main attraction is the old pier that’s located at the park entrance and parking lot. Beside this pier are multiple beaches and a boat launch.
The park is a great place to go boating, kayaking, canoeing and/or stand-up paddleboarding.
Travel tip – there are no equipment rentals at the park. You need to bring your own or rent the equipment in Vancouver and bring it with you.
There’s also a small campground with 60 sites available (44 vehicle accessible and 16 park/walk-in sites). Once you pass through the campground, you will find a long stretch of beach, a park with several picnic tables and a trail that leads to a lookout point with awesome views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountain Range.
We like to visit Porteau Cove at low tide so we can walk along the ocean floor and search for underwater treasures and creatures.
We usually bring a picnic with us and sit on the beach for hours while our boys turn over rocks searching for crabs. It’s not the best beach for swimming because the beaches are quite rocky, but there are a few sections that have sand and would be good for swimming (the water is typically too cold for our liking).
Part of the fun is the actual drive to Porteau Cove from Vancouver.
The Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most scenic drives in Canada. The highway hugs the coastline and snakes its way along the Coast Mountains. On the opposite side of Howe Sound you’ll see snow capped peaks and the magnificent Tantalus Glacier. There are several scenic viewpoints where you can pull over and take photos to remember the moment.
If you’re looking to fill your day with activities, keep driving north past Porteau Cove and you’ll reach Britannia Beach, another small community that’s often overlooked. There’s an old mining museum that’s fun for kids and there’s also an old General Store and a few cafes.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, there are several hiking trails near Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. You can also take a ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.
Where to Stay?
Before our last trip to Porteau Cove, we spent the night at the Holiday Inn in North Vancouver. We chose to stay at this popular IHG property because it’s conveniently located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, which is the road you take to reach Porteau Cove.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from the hotel to Porteau Cove and it’s all highway driving, so it’s super easy to navigate. Did we mention the drive along the Sea to Sky Corridor is one of the most scenic drives in Canada?
North Vancouver is the gateway to the Coast Mountains so this property is ideal for anyone looking to quickly surround themselves with British Columbia’s natural beauty.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Holiday Inn. Of course, our boys loved the warm indoor pool and the big comfy beds (there may have been some monkey’s jumping on the bed).
It’s also nice that kids aged 12 over under stay for free when sharing their parents’ room. There’s also a pub connected to the property, so you don’t need to go anywhere once you’re settled in.
Details about the Hidden Gems Contest
Visit ihgrewardsclub.com/150Canada and enter your favourite Hidden Gem in Canada from March 1st to May 31st for a chance to win one million IHG® Rewards Club Points.
There will also be monthly draws to win 50,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points which can be redeemed for hotel stays or merchandise. #IHG150