The Alternative Climbing Gym challenges climbers of all abilities with a 30-foot vertical wall in a 1,500-square-foot facility. Expert instructors put students through the paces of ropeless bouldering, the teamwork of belaying, or top-roping, in which a wall scaler ascends with the help of a rope connected to both the climber and the summit. Each climbing variation at the gym enables bodies to build core strength, balance, flexibility, endurance, and stamina while slapping gravity across the face with a glove. All ages of aspiring mountaineers are welcome to use the facility and modern climbing gear, though belaying’s buddy support requires that sturdy helpers be at least 12 years old. Like the moods of adolescent rock faces, the routes change often.
Harbour Air boosts wingless beings with first-class flights on carbon-neutral aircrafts, boutique stratosphere accessories, and picturesque seaplane tours. Eco-friendly seaplanes furnished with first-class amenities such as leather interiors and hands-free cloud parallel parking launch daily and link Lower Mainland and the Islands through panoramic flights that last 20 to 50 minutes ($156.53–$563.38 round trip). The airline's auspicious boutique furnishes cloud gazers with flight-centric merchandise for gifts and seagull bribes. A small Beaver model plane ($41.99) carves its niche among collectibles with locally handcrafted western maple wood, and a Dax Wilkinson T-shirt ($34.99) celebrates Canadian aviation.
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: