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If you’re planning a vacation, there’s no need to leave Canada! There’s so much beauty within our borders just waiting to be explored. We talked to our brokers across Canada and asked them to share their favourite Canadian hidden gems. Keep reading to find your next vacation.
British Columbia boasts the incredible islands of Haida Gwaii. A mythic feeling comes from the deep moss-covered rainforest and diverse plant and animal life. Not only is it visually stunning, but the islands have a rich First Nations culture. The islands are home to ancient village sites and over 500 archeological sites. Among the community there is a shared responsibility to care for the air, ocean, land and people.
Due to the cultural significance of the Haida Gwaii Islands there are some things to know before arriving. One of the requests is to both read and sign a pledge which is “I will respect Haida Gwaii and Haida ways of being during my visit.” Learn more about Haida Gwaii’s visitor pledge and orientation to ensure this beautiful landscape is enjoyed and respected.
Peyto Lake Viewpoint and Drumheller’s Badlands
Two of our favourite Canadian gems are in Alberta. First is Peyto Lake Viewpoint; an overlook onto the most famous lake in Banff National Park. This lake, which is about 40 km north of Lake Louise, is a result of nearby glaciers that provide a beautiful turquoise-blue colour to the water. There is a reason why it’s a hot spot for photographers: the views are spectacular! You can also visit the lake’s shoreline, but the real magic of Peyto Lake is from a distance, with the whole landscape in view.
Another destination to add to your list is Drumheller’s badlands. This landscape is filled with multi-hued canyons and wind-sculpted hoodoos as well as unique wildlife and unusual species. This includes: prairie rattlesnakes, horned lizards, prairie dogs, and bison. There are lots of activities to do, including birdwatching, canoeing, backcountry hiking, cycling, or even just taking in the beautiful surroundings. You can even marvel at the ancient rock art at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to enjoy the historic culture of these lands.
Ouimet Canyon and Tobermory
There is no shortage of beauty in Ontario! One of our favourite spots is Ouimet Canyon. About 60 km north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, you will run into panoramic views of a 150 metre wide gorge. The 100 metre dramatic stone cliffs of the canyon Is an incredible natural attraction that you need to see to believe. The gorge, which was most likely shaped over a billion years ago from glacier activity, has such a unique environment that rare Artic flora plants thrive in the bottom of the canyon. These plants typically only survive 1000 km north of the canyon, but Ouimet is the exception.
Another great Ontario destination is Tobermory. It’s a lakeside town surrounded by crystal clear water and the Niagara Escarpment. The town is filled with many activities for everyone to enjoy. These include diving, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, cruising to Flowerpot island, seeing a shipwreck and watching the perfect sunset. If outdoor adventures aren’t for you, there are various clothing and gift shops as well as establishments of art and culture, such as museums and galleries.
East coast gems
Thunder Cove Beach
Our first East coast gem is in PEI. Head an hour north of Charlottetown to find Thunder Cove Beach. This beach is one of those hidden gems that the locals don’t want you to find – but we’ve got you covered! Just outside of Kensington, this beach differs from the typical rolling dunes you’d expect to find on the north shore of PEI. The sandstone cliffs, sea stacks and cave formations are geologically diverse and a real-time illustration of how water and wind shape the islands landscape. Although these cliffs are beautiful to admire, be careful climbing them as sandstone is fragile rock. A short hike or kayak paddle away is how we recommend to soak in the view. We also recommend checking out the nearby sea stack known as Teacup rock early in the morning when the sun is still low in the sky and the water is calm.
Gros Morne National Park
Loop around to Newfoundland and Labrador to visit Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient landscape was shaped by colliding continents and grinding glaciers which produced the dramatic, sheer-walled gorge of Western Brooke Pond. Not only are there coastal pathways to explore and opportunities to beachcomb the sea stacks, but there are also chances of spotting caribou and moose. It took approximately 485 million years for the Gros Morne National Park to become what it is today. Travel along the water through fjords carved by glaciers millennia ago, leaving behind towering cliffs and thunderous waterfalls. Not only can you hike the astonishing landscape and climb life-changing summits, but there are also opportunities to experience rich cultural heritage. Festivals, music, and art are just some of the activities you can expect to take part in.
Our last hidden gem is on an island off the shore of Nova Scotia. Sable Island is one of Canada’s furthest offshore islands so it is isolated and remote. Its iconic crescent shape and shifting sand dunes make it an attraction worth visiting. The famous island is also known for the wild horses that roam freely and the world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals that live on the beaches. Plants, birds, and insects have adapted to life on Sable, some of which are found nowhere else on earth. This makes it a go-to destination for biology lovers. Sable Island has also famously earned the title “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for the more than 350 vessels that have been wrecked due to rough seas, fog, and submerged sandbars surrounding the island. So, whether you love animals or are a history buff, this island is the perfect place to for an unforgettable Canadian vacation.
Ultimately, we want you to enjoy all that Canada has to offer – there is more than you might think! Canada is home to incredible and diverse sights to see. You might not get to see them all, but we hope you try to visit as many as you can!