To Sidney-by-the-Sea and Back…in a Day

The following article was contributed by Sarah Hughs, Executive Assistant at Tourism Vancouver.

I recently had the opportunity to join our membership and media teams on a day trip to Vancouver Island, specifically to Sidney-by-the-Sea. Sidney was a place I’d seen on the map or on a sign when driving the highway between the ferry and Victoria, but a place I had never actually stopped to see. If only I had known.

We took the Canada Line from Waterfront Station to YVR, arriving at the airport in 25 minutes. We boarded the South Terminal Shuttle, (which runs every 20 minutes from Level Two of both Domestic and International arrivals) for the quick five minute drive between terminals to catch our Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to YYJ . Pacific Airlines is a family owned, born & bred in BC airline serving the Coastal & Interior regions of British Columbia.

Check in was quick, easy and efficient. We were met in the departure lounge by Jim from Pacific Coastal Airlines who was our guide for the day. I knew we were flying on a Beechcraft 1900 plane, and was pleasantly surprised that almost all of 33 seats on the plane were window seats! I love walking on the tarmac to board a plane. It makes you feel like you should stop on the stairs, turn around and wave!

Our flight to Victoria took all of 15 minutes, which is about the same time as my morning commute on the Seabus. Flying over the Strait of Georgia we enjoyed great views of some familiar sights, including the Richmond Oval and the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal as well the very scenic Gulf Islands.

After landing in Victoria we set off for Sidney-by-the Sea. Sidney is located on the Saanich Peninsula at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. With over 3 kilometres of waterfront and many wonderful activities to explore, Sidney is a year round tourist destination. There is so much to do there. You can easily, rent a kayak, book a whale watching trip from Sea Quest Adventures, board a passenger ferry for the 25 minute sail to Sidney Spit Marine Park on the tip of Sidney Island, browse the eight book stores in the downtown shopping area that make Sidney Canada’s only book town, or visit the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, which is exactly what we did.

The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is a marine education centre and aquarium highlighting the fascinating ecosystem of the Salish Sea, an area that encompasses Juan de Fuca Strait, Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound.

While not the biggest of aquariums, the centre has plenty of hands-on exhibits and many helpful guides to help you. What’s really cool is that everything on display is from the waters that are right outside the centre’s window.

Next came lunch at Georgia Cafe & Deli, a popular place for coffee and freshly baked goodies. The café is located on the main level of the beautiful Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, where we headed to immediately after lunch.

As you walk into the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa you are welcomed by Dave, a five year old black English lab who brings smiles to the faces of everyone he greets. The hotel offers trendy and modern accommodation, with 46 spacious rooms and nine suites with kitchens, many of which are dog-friendly. The hotel features the Haven Spa, a fitness centre & Haro’s Restaurant & Bar, complete with ocean views, sustainable seafood & local ingredients. The Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa is dedicated to being very eco-friendly. For example, they have installed geo-thermal heat pumps that warm and cool the building, solar shading and low-e glass to reduce the impact of direct sunlight, and CFL bulbs throughout the property. These are only a few of their extensive “Green Initiatives”.

A quick look in the Haunted House bookstore (sorry to say it isn’t actually haunted) and back to the airport to catch our flight back to YVR. Thanks to our crew of two, Captain Keen and Co-Pilot/Flight Attendant, Matt for delivering us safely and quickly to Victoria and back to Vancouver.

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