It's hard for Andrew and Christine Edwards to remember a life without scuba diving. From an early age, they both would plunge into the depths of Vancouver's waters, gazing across underwater landscapes where wolf eels swam and octopi stretched their sneaker-covered tentacles across a carpet of strawberry anemones. These experiences stuck with them, and in 2007, the couple opened Ocean Planet Adventures to share their life's passion with others.
From Discovery Scuba classes to advanced PADI certifications, Ocean Planet Adventures' instructors guide their students at dive sites peppered across Clayoquot Sound and Barkley Sound, a UNESCO biosphere. During these expeditions, instructors and groups feast their eyes on jungles of aquatic plants and animals, including whales. Aside from open-water diving, the staff teaches specialty courses such as wreck diving, which lets divers explore shipwrecks or polish the hoods of sunken automobiles.
Competitors in the nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, the Peninsula Panthers foster excellence in fledgling hockey players as they compete against some of Canada's finest young talent. With three Brent Patterson Memorial Trophies in their arsenal—including back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011—the Panthers have emerged as one of the league's premiere programs and a hotbed for future stars to move on to the next level. A handful of NHL players have matriculated through the Panthers system, including current Dallas Stars fixtures Jamie and Jordie Benn.
The pilots of Island Express Air ply the skies above the West Coast, armed with years of training and the latest XM satellite GPS technology. They nimbly manoeuvre compact aircraft to Abbotsford, Victoria, Tofino, Nanaimo, and Vancouver South, flying low to provide incredibly scenic views. They lend their services for chartered flights and also run regular routes for the frequent business traveller.
As golfers line up tricky, round-deciding rolls on the green of the signature 17th hole at Olympic View Golf Club, they might have to block out an unusual sound. Just behind the green, water crashes earthward for more than 60 feet over one of the course’s two waterfalls. The dramatic feature generates a roaring din as well as a beautiful backdrop for players as they near the end of their scenic golfing excursions.
Such tranquil scenes are common on the 6,600-yard course framed by the dense forest of south Vancouver Island and the looming profiles of Olympic Mountains peaks. But the calm can be deceptive, as the Bill Robinson–designed layout aims to challenge. Twelve lakes are interspersed throughout the site, and numerous bunkers intimidate golfers with their depth and walls etched with tally marks. This signature mix of beauty and difficulty earned the club a four-star rating from Golf Digest in 2008, as well as a ranking of 10th Best Public Golf Course in British Columbia by Score Golf in 2011.
The GBC Golf Academy at Olympic View Golf Club aims to prepare golfers mentally and physically for playing the most enjoyable golf of their lives. Located on 14 acres, the academy features nine large grass driving areas with target greens as far as 330 yards. In three short-game areas, players practice putts, pitches, and fake surprise at finding the ball in the cup. The amply appointed grounds complement a teaching philosophy that encourages development of a repeatable swing tailored to the individual’s physical capabilities.
Course at a Glance:
A tiny ripple glides along the smooth-as-glass water, alerting captain Pete to the fact that he and his passengers are about to have company. Sure enough, within seconds a group of glossy black fins breaks through the sea in a silent, synchronized ballet. A native Washingtonian who has spent his entire life on the water, captain Pete orchestrates San Juan Excursions to grant guests the chance to go head-to-head with nature in moments such as these. As marine naturalists certified by the Whale Museum’s Naturalist Training Program, captain Pete’s crew of passionate guides take to the peaceful waters of the Puget Sound to entertain boatloads of guests with informative facts about area wildlife witnessed during excursions.
The team’s passion for nature informs its low-impact approach to whale and wildlife watching, which is exemplified in the Odyssey, the company's tour boat. Originally a U.S. Navy search-and-rescue vessel forged in 1941, the craft is fueled by biodiesel when possible and maintains a low propeller RPM to minimize the Bono moans it releases into the water column. Though San Juan Excursions specializes in whale watching, it also sends adventurers forth to explore the waters on their own steam during sea-kayak tours.
At Cadence Fitness, guests can tone their bodies in core workouts, sultry pole-dance spins, and aerial circus arts without leaving the building. However, the women-only studio isn't a training spot for acrobats?its expert staff invites ladies of all backgrounds and body types to their classes. Owner Amie set out to create a safe and compassionate haven where guests can experiment with movement, whether they are spinning six feet from the ground aboard a lyra or stretching into atmospheric yoga's midair splits. Her programs have been featured on Shaw TV's "The Daily" for their accessibility and benefits, which include having enough strength and balance to tightrope walk while tearing phonebooks in half. Amie and her team also host workshops, parties, and teacher-training seminars, inspiring groups to shed their insecurities and twirl toward empowerment.