Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Discovering Westham Island – Part II

Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters | Flickr

Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters | Flickr

Just 45 minutes south of Vancouver, tiny Westham Island has its own world-class bird sanctuary, farm stands and acres of pumpkin patches, and waterfront bike trails.  Check out Part I of this two-part series for more details.  

While the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island might not exactly be a hidden gem (the parking lot was filled beyond capacity when I visited), it amazes me how few Vancouverites have been there.  The 740-acre, waterfront refuge – intersected with leafy, winding pathways, lagoons and quiet backwaters – provides habitat for some 250 species of birds throughout the year.  Admission is $5 and you can buy a bag of birdseed for $1.

On any given day, you’ll be swarmed by hundreds (often thousands) of ducks, who want your precious seeds.  Over the weekend, I also saw at least a half-dozen great blue herons perched out in the water, red-winged blackbirds, brilliantly coloured wood ducks and tiny finches that have learned to eat out of your hand. Continue reading:
Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Discovering Westham Island – Part II

Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Discovering Westham Island — Part I

Photo credit: Gord McKenna | Flickr

Photo credit: Gord McKenna | Flickr

It’s a tiny island a short drive from Vancouver with its own world-class bird sanctuary, farm stands and acres of pumpkin patches, and waterfront bike trails you’ll likely have all to yourself.

And pretty much no one has heard of it.

Westham Island is roughly a 45-minute drive south of downtown Vancouver, past Richmond and just next door to the small agricultural community of Ladner. I checked out the island recently on a sunny fall day.

A narrow tributary of the Fraser River separates Westham Island from the mainland.  To get across, you have to navigate a creaky, one-lane wooden bridge that’s been patched here and there with plywood.  Sometimes the bridge rotates to allow passing boats to get by and you might find a half-dozen cars lined up and waiting to get across. Continue reading:
Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Discovering Westham Island — Part I

Hidden Gem Alert! Portside Park in Vancouver

Photo credit: bruce | Flickr

It’s hard to believe there could still be a 3.3-hectare hidden gem right smack in downtown Vancouver.

But Portside Park might just fit the bill.   It’s waterfront, has a big beach and offers some of the best views of the downtown skyline and North Shore mountains anywhere in Vancouver.  And it’s practically empty – even on a sunny, summer day.

I stumbled upon Portside Park (officially known as CRAB Park at Portside) for the first time earlier this week.  Part of the reason it’s still unknown is that it’s a bit hard to find, tucked away in an industrial part of town few people know to visit.

Continue reading:
Hidden Gem Alert! Portside Park in Vancouver